More Washington AVAs – Red Mountain

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

At the time of this writing, the Red Mountain AVA is, indeed, the smallest appellation in the State of Washington, although if the trend of designating smaller and smaller sub-regions continues we will eventually have every block of vineyard considered unique.  The appellation is located in both the Yakima and Columbia Valley AVAs in Benton County, Washington between the towns of Benton City and Richland.  This area has 4,040 acres, 600 of which are under cultivation.

Appropriately enough given the name of the appellation, the area is known primarily for its high quality red varietals including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah.  It is believed the quality comes from the Southwest facing slopes which are warmer than typical for the Columbia Valley and cool evenings which preserve the acid levels within the grapes.  Additionally the gravelly soil with high levels of calcium carbonate and acidic soils help to balance the flavors and concentrate the berry flavors of the grapes.  Is this how the mountain got its name?  No.  It is named for the wine red color that the native cheatgrass turns in the spring.

Wine began to be produced on the Mountain in the 1970s with John Williams of Kiona Vineyards and Jim Holmes (now) of Ciel du Chaval.  There are now 13 wineries including:

The total acreage in the AVA under cultivation is 14.85% of the total… imagine the wines that could be produced from 15% or 20%!

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