Horse Heaven Hills AVA – June 16, 2015 – This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Horse Heaven Hills American Viticulture Area (AVA). In honor of this milestone, the Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers (HHHWG) is highlighting their prestigious region with their annual “Trail Drive” wine event and scholarship fundraiser along with a special tasting of rare 2005 vintage wines produced from Horse Heaven Hills vineyards.
Horse Heaven Hills has deep roots. In 1972 Don and Linda Mercer planted the first grapes on Horse Heaven, a shock to those who knew the landscape as an arid, harsh environment. Dr. Walter Clore was busy convincing various landowners of excellent potential wine grape growing spots, and thankfully, the Mercer’s drank his Kool-Aid. Horse Heaven Hills AVA is known for being one of the hottest regions in the state, what makes it stand out amongst a few of the other regions is it’s almost mild climate. Warm Chinooks frequent the banks of the Columbia River, which borders the AVA to the south, along with lots of south-facing benches for cold air drainage. And then there’s the effect of the wind. The strong wind, apparent by slanted trees on properties that dot the region, benefit the grapes by keeping pests and diseases at bay. While Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay reign supreme, the AVA has one of the most diverse selections of grapes, and some notoriously temperamental varieties are finding a home in Horse Heaven, including Mourvèdre and Grenache.
In 2005 when the AVA was approved there were roughly 6,000 acres in production. Today that number has doubled with more than 12,000 acres. The AVA is home to some of the states top respected vineyards, producing 100-point wines and multiple award winners, but the thing that makes it extra special among community members is the neighborly attitude of these growers. The HHHWG gather monthly to foster a collective community spirit, at each other’s homes or wineries to talk shop and share wines over home prepared food pairings.
Ten Years of Terroir
Kicking off the festivities on June 26th is a very special opportunity at The Clore Center in Prosser, Wash. A selection of 2005 Cabernet Sauvignons hosted by a panel of Horse Heaven Hills viticulturists and winemakers. 2005 was a stellar year and these wines are extremely special and rare. Wineries featured will be Columbia Crest (2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon—Wine of the Year, Wine Spectator), Fidelitas’ Champoux Vineyard, McKinley Springs, Martinez & Martinez, Buty’s Phinny Hill Vineyard, amongst many others. Tickets for this event are $100 a person and will include food pairings. The tasting starts at 6pm and is limited to 50 attendees due to limited quantities of these special wines. Proceeds from this event will go towards the HHHWG scholarship fund and The Clore Center. For ticketing information visit The Clore Center or phone 509-786-1000.
Annual Trail Drive
Since the inception of the A.V.A., the Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers have invited folks to head into the Hills and visit the vineyards during the third Saturday in July. The Trail Drive proceeds are donated to their scholarship program, for students entering the wine industry from the area, donating two $1,500 scholarships, yearly. The Trail Drive takes you through the dry-land wheat fields of Horse Heaven to the rolling hills of vineyards, stopping at various wineries with the opportunity to meet and talk with vintners and growers. The day finishes with an evening meal, music, dancing and more wine tasting. For ticketing information visit the Horse Heaven Hills Wine Grower’s webpage: www.horseheavenhillswinegrowers.org.
To learn more about the AVA and the current members please visit the Horse Heaven Hills Wine Grower’s webpage, www.horseheavehillswinegrowers.org. Or contact the following for more information:
Chairman—Paul Champoux, Champoux Vineyards: 509-948-5759
Vice Chair—Mimi Nye, Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard: 509-875-4371
Secretary—Angela Andrews, Andrews Horse Heaven Ranch: 509-894-4528
Treasurer—Sandy Rowell, McKinley Springs Winery: 509-786-0004