2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $50

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Vineyard: Sagemoor 91% Desert Wind 5% Dead Canyon 4%
Alcohol: 14.4%
Production: 56 cases

The Columbia Valley is a large appellation that encompasses many of Washington’s appellations and hence vineyards.  Much of this wine is made from grapes sourced from the Sagemoor Vineyards, located north of Pasco, which became one of the first substantive vineyards in Washington soon after it was planted in 1968.  It now supplies grapes to many of Washington’s top wineries.  It consists of three vineyard entities; Sagemoor, Bacchus and Dionysus.  This wine is made from grapes from Dionysus Vineyard block 14, a Southwest facing block overlooking the Columbia River.  These old vines are challenged in the low-nutrient and water holding sandy soils producing small but flavorful berries and a supple rich mouth.

This particular wine is made up 91% Sagemoor vineyard fruit and 5% fruit from the Wahluke Slope Fries Vineyard and 4% from the Horse Heaven Hills.  We are unable to use a vineyard designate on this wine as at least 95% of the fruit needs to come from one vineyard to be vineyard designated.  Unfortunately small lot winemaking has its challenges and one of them is keeping barrels topped.  Barrels need to be keep full at all times otherwise they will spoil so it was necessary to bring in wine from other of our vineyards to maintain topped barrels but, as a result, losing the vineyard designation.


2008 Desert Wind Cabernet Sauvignon, $50

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Wahluke Slope
Vineyard: Desert Wind
Alcohol: 14.6%
Production: 28 cases

The Wahluke Slope is one of the warmer Washington appellations and is particularly good for growing red grapes to produce some of Washington’s great red wines.  In is not unusual to find pieces of petrified wood on the vineyard floor in the ancient sandy soils that allow for good drainage and low nutrient capacity. These soils along with the warm days and breezes produce small canopies and berries for concentrated flavors and color.

These grapes are grown by the Fries family in their Desert Wind vineyard. This particular block was planted in 1993 and I’ve had the good fortune to make wine from this block since 1996.  The Desert Wind Cabernet Sauvignon has a strong Cabernet character with excellent structure and good acidity.  These grapes were fermented in small one ton bins and punched down by hand daily.  Once flavors, color and tannin had been extracted to a nice balance the wine was pressed off from the skins.  The wine was then racked to French Oak barrels where it was aged for two years.


2008 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $50

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Vineyard: Kiona 87% Desert Wind 13%
Alcohol: 14.4%
Production: 56 cases

The Red Mountain appellation at 4040 acres is the smallest Washington grape growing appellation.  Paradoxically sitting within the cooler larger Yakima Valley appellation it is one of the warmer appellations primarily due to its Southwest facing slopes.  The soils are a well draining silt loam with high calcium carbonate content.  The low water and nutrient holding capacity of the vines produces small canopies which directs more energy into developing the fruit flavors and tannins in the grapes.  Red Mountain fruit is known for its intensity and big tannin structure.

For Red Mountain fruit we went to the vineyards of the Williams family of Kiona winery fame who were the first to plant grapes in the Red Mountain area when John Williams and Jim Holmes teamed up to plant wine grapes in 1975.  This wine is produced from grapes from that original vineyard planting. The grapes were fermented in a small bin and punched down three times daily until color and tannins were extracted and in balance. The wine was then drained from the skins and placed in French oak barrels.   The wine shows complexity and depth with rich sweet tannins which turn the usually assertive Red Mountain tannins into a supple complex and memorable wine.

The label does not carry a single vineyard designation because needs to be at least 95% of one vineyard in order to be vineyard designated.  Unfortunately small lot winemaking has its challenges and one of them is keeping barrels topped.  Barrels need to be keep full at all times otherwise they will spoil so it was necessary to bring in wine from other of our vineyards to maintain topped barrels but, as a result, losing our vineyard designation.  However at 87% this wine is still very much defined by the Kiona vineyard characteristics.


2012 Kiona Vineyard Mourvèdre, $35

Varietal: 100% Mourvèdre
Appellation: Red Mountain
Vineyard: Kiona
Alcohol: 15.4%
Production: 60 cases

This Spanish variety, also known as Mataro, is one of the three varieties often used in blending of Cotes-du-Rhone wines, the other varieties being Syrah and Grenache.  In the vineyard it is late to bud and late to ripen so it needs a warm site, such as the Red Mountain appellation, to fully ripen.  It produces a wine of moderate tannins with good acidity and flavors of perfumed blackberries with a hint of black pepper.  It is a great accompaniment to meals that call for a flavorful wine but without the tannin and weight that Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon possess.

The vineyard block was planted in 2006 after Scott Williams, winemaker and owner of Kiona Vineyards and Winery, returned from a trip to the south of France where he enjoyed a number of Rhone wines which are usually a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, commonly called GSM blends.  Scott planted only four acres, enough to parse out grapes to just a few wineries.  Fortunately for these wineries, this exotic Mediterranean variety does well in the unique calcareous and well-drained Red Mountain soil which produces ripe flavorful grapes reflecting the terroir or environment they were grown in.

These grapes were harvested in late October and fermented in a one ton bin.  After daily punch downs to extract color and tannin the wine was pressed and then put immediately into second-fill French oak barrels so as to slowly age the wine without overpowering it with oak.  The wine was aged in barrel for 17 months and then bottled where it was aged another 24 months in bottle to soften and meld the wine.