Snipes Mountain: Birds or Gunmen?

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The answer is neither. Snipes Mountain is named after an early pioneer to Yakima, Ben Snipes, who built a house at the base of the mountain and established a cattle ranch in the 1850s. The viticultural area is a subset of both the Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley AVAs and is unique due to the existence of rocky aridisols which contain gravel deposits that range in size from that of a fist to melons. The appellation is in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains which deprives the region of precipitation and yet lies in the ancient river bed of the Columbia River. The AVA includes Snipes Mountain as well as nearby Harrison Hill and can be located between the towns of Sunnyside and Granger, Washington.

Vineyards were initially planted on the mountain beginning in 1914. Only one winery is currently in operation in the AVA, but other vineyards exist supplies grapes to other wineries. The appellation is one of the smallest in the state with only 4,145 acres in total area of which only 535 are in production.

Snipes Mountain

Next In Our 196+ Part Series!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Oh, Stephen would be so proud of us… we keep plugging away at our series of AVAs and unlike his series, “Better Know A District”, my series keeps growing.

Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara is certainly proof of that. And yes, when the finally publish the result of the negotiations for the Calistoga AVA, I will map that baby up too. In the meantime, I will keep plugging on the areas that have been around for a while.

That being said, I present to you the next installment:

The Finger Lakes!

The Finger Lakes AVA surround the lionshare of the lakes. There are about 100 wineries in the region, which has been producing wine since the 1820s. The Viticultural Area was established in 1982 and amended in 1987. There are two sub-AVAs for Lake Seneca and Lake Cayuga that I will publish together next week. These two lakes along with Canadaigua and Keuka are the centers for the majority of wine production.

Finger Lakes AVA

Destination Sommelier

Some of us choose a restaurant based on the wine list. Quality of food, of course, is a factor, as is the friendliness and efficiency of service, but, if you are like me, it is the wine program, or the Sommelier responsible for it, which matters most.

Henry Bishop is a name I had heard more than a year ago from a trusted member of the Chicago wholesale community. The name Henry Bishop surfaced again last week, when a new colleague of mine mentioned that she had dined at a mexican restaurant called Salpicon. She spoke highly of Henry Bishop, specifically a sense of humor and a penchant for the esoteric. I looked at the restaurant’s website,, which has the wines organized by country, and in some cases by producer. At that moment I had decided that I was going to eat there. I was not phased by the quixotic combination between a serious wine program and a mexican concept, and didn’t even look at the dinner menu.

I met Kevin and Maman for dinner at Salpicon last Thursday. We started with guacamole and chips, and three ‘Salpicon Margaritas’ (when in Rome…). It felt like a typical mexican restaurant experience. We asked if Henry was in, he was. Henry Bishop approached, introductions were made, common acquaintances referenced. We asked him to pair wines with our ‘tasting menu’ (always order the tasting menu). What happened next turned our typical mexican restaurant experience into a stimulating and thoroughly unique adventure into the [other] world of wine.

Henry Bishop’s Wine Pairings
1.Pere Ventura Brut Nature NV Cava, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Spain
2.2005 Firelands Winery Gewurztraminer, Isle St. George, Sandusky, Ohio
3.1997 Villa Guntrum, Oppenheimer Schützenhütte, Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheinhessen
4.2006 Dubaril Gamay Romand Rosé, Cave de La Côte-Uvavins, Morges, Switzerland
5.2005 Summers Winery Charbono, Villa Andriana Vineyard, Calistoga, Napa, California
6.2006 Emilio Bulfon Piculìt Neri, Valeriano, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
7.La Face Cachee de la Pomme, Neige, Apple Ice Wine, Quebec, Canada
8.Mount Pleasant Tawny Port, Augusta, Missouri

Each of the above wines delivered quality and balance and would have been acceptable under any circumstance. But what occurred that night was special, an adventure through six countries, two forgotten but important historical wine producing states, and french canadian apple orchards that employ cryoconcentration and cryoextraction to produce a unique and exotic ‘wine’. Henry had us in the palm of his hand. Each time he arrived at the table with a new wine meant a new surprise and new fork in the road of our conversation.

If you are like me, you choose a restaurant because of it’s wine list. And if you are like me, and enjoy to place yourself at the mercy of a talented and intuitive Sommelier, visit Salpicon and ask for Henry Bishop. Or, if you have a Sommelier that has earned your trust as Henry has mine, then please share your story and contact us at Destination Sommelier.