It is often said that great wine starts in the vineyard. We contract with high quality vineyards to bring the best wine to you. Here are our current vineyards organized by AVA (American Viticultural Area):
HORSE HEAVEN HILLS (est. 2005)
Vineyards: Coyote Canyon, Phinny Hill
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The Horse Heaven Hills AVA was established in 1972 and is home to over one quarter of Washington’s planted acreage (17,082 acres). The area is among Washington’s warmer growing regions, making it an ideal place for Cabernet Sauvignon which makes up a large percentage of plantings. Many vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills are planted on south-facing slopes, providing for extended sun exposure.
Like many of Washington’s growing regions, the Horse Heaven Hills is located on an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of wrinkles in the earth that create slopes ideal for grape growing. The area has an arid and semi-arid, continental climate. As with almost all areas of eastern Washington, irrigation is therefore required to grow wine grapes.
Pressure differentials cause significant winds in the Horse Heaven Hills. These winds reduce canopy size and toughen grape skins, as well as protect against mold and rot. The nearby Columbia River also has a moderating effect on temperatures, reducing the risk of early and late season frosts, which can be a problem in nearby areas.
There are three main soil types in the area—wind-blown sand and loess, Missoula Flood sediment, and hill slope rubble from the Columbia River basalt bedrock. Each of these provides well-drained soils suitable for vinifera.
The Horse Heaven Hills had its first vinifera plantings in 1972 at what is now Champoux Vineyard, and vineyard designated bottles—particularly Cabernet Sauvignon—from this site are some of Washington’s most coveted and expensive wines. The appellation is wholly contained within the Columbia Valley.
RED MOUNTAIN (est. 2001)
Vineyards: Ciel du Cheval, E&E Shaw, Heart of the Hill, Hedges, Quintessence
Varietals: Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Mourvedre’, Pinot Gris and Syrah.
At 4,040 total acres (1,630 ha), Red Mountain is one of Washington’s smallest appellations. It is also one of the state’s warmest, with broad, southwest-facing slopes that soak up the summer sun.
Due to these warm temperatures, red grape varieties dominate, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up 60% of plantings. The area’s warm temperatures and persistent winds lead to small berry sizes and thicker skins.
Located near the small town of Benton City, Red Mountain’s name is somewhat of a misnomer as it is neither red nor mountainous, with elevations ranging from 500 feet (152 m) to 1,500 feet (457 m). Red Mountain is, in fact, an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in eastern Washington. The area takes on a reddish hue in springtime as the cheatgrass changes color.
The nearby Yakima River moderates temperatures and provides continual airflow, guarding against frost that can be problematic in nearby areas. Nighttime temperatures drop precipitously—often as much as 40 degrees—helping preserve the acid levels in the grapes.
SNIPES MOUNTAIN (est. 2009)
Varietals: Chenin Blanc and Tempranillo.
Snipes Mountain is one of Washington’s smallest appellations at 4,145 total acres (1,677 ha). Located between the towns of Sunnyside and Granger, Snipes Mountain is less a mountain than it is an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in Washington.
One of the defining features of Snipes Mountain is its soils, some of which come from an ancestral riverbed of the Columbia River. Many areas of the mountain are covered with fist- and melon-size cobblestones deposited by an ancient flow of the Columbia River. On top of this is loess—windblown deposits of sand, clay, and silt—over Missoula Flood sediment, with all but the top 90 feet of Snipes Mountain (1,290 feet above sea level) lying below this series of cataclysmic events.
Steep north and south-facing slopes allow cold air to flow downhill, helping to prevent frost damage that occasionally affects nearby regions. These slopes also provide varied aspect for grape growing. The area has an arid, continental climate. Irrigation is therefore required to grow vinifera grapes, as is the case in most of eastern Washington.
WAHLUKE SLOPE (est. 2006)
Varietals: Malbec and Mourvedre’.
The entire Wahluke Slope appellation sits on a large alluvial fan, which has a constant, gentle grade of less than 8%. This makes the soils notably uniform over a large area. The uniformities in aspect, soil type, and climate are the major distinguishing features of the area.
Elevations vary between 425 feet above sea level by the Columbia River, which forms the western boundary, to 1,480 feet, though most vineyards lie below 1,000 feet. Precipitation averages less than 6 inches (15cm) annually. Irrigation is therefore required to grow vinifera grapes, as is the case in most of eastern Washington. Winds in the area lead to smaller leaf size and smaller grape clusters compared to other regions, concentrating the resulting wines.
The topsoil is deep, wind-blown sand with a depth, on average, of more than 5 feet (150cm). This provides both ample drainage for vinifera vines and greater uniformity in plant vigor and ripening than seen in other areas of Washington.
The appellation’s slope and proximity to the Columbia River, which forms its western boundary, helps minimize the risk of frost, which can affect other areas of the state. The area is geographically isolated, bordered by the Columbia River, Saddle Mountains, and Hanford Reach National Monument.
As one of the warmest regions in the state, the Wahluke Slope is known primarily for red grape varieties, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The appellation is a sub-appellation of the larger Columbia Valley.
WHITE BLUFFS (est. 2021)
Varietal: Pinot Gris
The White Bluffs AVA was established in 2021. The appellation lies on a plateau that rises up from Pasco Basin, north of this city. The plateau is, on average, 200 feet above the surrounding area. This higher elevation extends the growing season relative to the surrounding area and helps protect against frosts and freezes.
White Bluffs gets its name from the appellation’s other main distinguishing feature – a layer of ancient lakebed sediment that lies underneath windblown silt and Missoula Flood deposits. This sedimentary layer, which is whitish in appearance, is referred to as Ringold formation. It can be seen in escarpments by the Columbia River, which provides part of the border of the appellation. This layer of ancient lakebed sediment means that vines planted in White Bluffs never have an opportunity to interact with the basalt bedrock, unlike almost all other areas of the Columbia Valley. It also means the vines have a different suite of minerals to interact with. Finally, these lakebed sediments have a higher clay content, which impacts water holding capacity.
Though the White Bluffs was approved in 2021, there is a long history of grape growing in the appellation, with the first vines planted 1972. Some of these vines are still productive today and are among the oldest in the state.
The appellation is 93,738 total acres, with approximately 1,100 acres under vine. White Bluffs is home to one winery and nine vineyards, with nearly one in every ten wineries in the state sourcing fruit from this area.
YAKIMA VALLEY (est. 1983)
Vineyards: Boushey, Dineen, Tudor Hills
Varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Syrah.
Yakima Valley is one of Washington’s most diverse growing regions. It also is the largest sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley, both in total size and planted acreage (18,924), with the valley home to over one quarter of Washington’s total grape vine acreage.
Designated in 1983, Yakima Valley was the first federally recognized wine-growing region in the Pacific Northwest. The valley has an arid, continental climate, with annual average precipitation at just 8 inches (20 cm). Irrigation is therefore required to cultivate vinifera grapes. The Yakima River, which bisects the appellation, provides water for irrigation as do local aquifers.
Yakima Valley is one of the few appellations in the state where white varieties are more planted than red, led by Chardonnay and Riesling. The Yakima Valley is notable for having cooler areas toward the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It also has blazingly hot areas by the center of the Columbia Basin.
Stretches of cooler terrain in Yakima Valley are home to almost half of the Chardonnay and Riesling grown in the state. Simultaneously, Yakima Valley’s many warmer sites yield significant percentages of Washington’s best Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Mirroring the appellation’s physical diversity, Yakima Valley wines encompass a broad range of styles.
Like almost all of eastern Washington’s other growing regions, Yakima Valley soils are strongly influenced by the Missoula Floods, which were a series of dramatic cataclysms in prehistoric times. Moderate to deep silt-loam is layered over gravel or directly onto basalt bedrock. This foundation creates well-drained soils that are ideal for irrigated viticulture.