Tour the Red Mountain Wine Region
Washington’s smallest wine appellation, Red Mountain, is considered one of the most exciting in terms of winemaking potential. The entire growing region is just over 4,000 acres and sits within the Yakima Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) near the small town of Benton City. Although the name implies a mountain location, at 1,500 feet in elevation, Red Mountain is really more of a large hill. A distinctive micro-climate here sets it apart from any other site in eastern Washington. Without a doubt, you should be looking into Red Mountain wine tours if you are in Washington.
Some of the most prized vineyard land in the state is located in Red Mountain. Famous sites include Klipsun Vineyard, Ciel du Cheval and Artz Vineyard. Only a handful of wineries have facilities here, but Red Mountain fruit goes into some of the most highly touted wines made in the Pacific Northwest. These would include the wines of Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will Cellars, Betz Family Winery, Doyenne, Gorman Winery, Mark Ryan Winery and numerous others. The Red Mountain area is one of the warmest growing sites in the state and is noted particularly for powerful red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Note – if you’re looking to launch a career in wine then this is a spot to consider!
In 2007, Col Solare opened a new eight-million dollar winery facility on Red Mountain. The venture is an international partnership between famous Italian winemaker Marchesi Piero Antinori and pioneering Puget Sound area winery, Chateau Ste Michelle. Its sole wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend, gets rave reviews from all leading critics. This stunning winery is open by appointment only.
The state of Washington’s Department of Natural Resources owns land on Red Mountain and currently leases five parcels for vineyards. In 2008 the state announced a new lease of 404 acres for a vineyard and winery complex that will bring together as many as twelve boutique wineries to share a fifty-million dollar Italian-style complex. A moratorium on well drilling curtailed growth in the past but since the state of Washington controls water rights as well, it would appear additional development is now more likely.
Visiting Red Mountain is an easy detour off a major highway about twenty miles west of the Tri-Cities area of Kennewick, Richland and Pasco, Washington. Excellent wineries to visit include Fidelitas, Hedges, Hightower, Kiona, Sandhill, Seth Ryan, Tapteil and Terra Blanca. Although several new winery facilities are in development, tourist amenities like restaurants and lodging are still in the planning stages. Red Mountain is in a quiet rural area. Tasting room schedules vary and moderate tasting fees are customary.