“Red Moutain has established itself as not only Washington’s premier wine-growing region, but one of the finest in the world.”
“Red Mountain has established itself as not only Washington’s premier wine-growing region, but one of the finest in the world.”
— SEAN SULLIVAN, WINE ENTHUSIAST MAGAZINE
Red Mountain has made its name by growing some of the best Cabernet in the state. Now, many other grapes are grown here but many of the most highly regarded bottlings in the state are sourced in part or exclusively from here. The highest scoring Cabernet from Washington in Wine Spectator came from Ciel du Cheval, the 2007 Grand Reve Collaboration (97 pts).
The Wine Advocate just gave the 2014 Quilceda Galitzine Vineyard a perfect 100 pt Score! “The utterly spellbinding 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard is 100% Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon that was brought up in new barrels. Bravo to the team at Quilceda! This is a sensational vintage from Quilceda's Paul and Alex Golitzin! Both the classic Columbia Valley Cabernet and the Galitzine Vineyard are sheer perfection.” Jeb DunnickClick here to take a tour of Red Mountain AVA
The Red Mountain AVA is located on a southwest-facing slope in south central Washington, a little more three hours from Seattle. At just over 4000 acres it is the smallest wine-grape growing region in Washington. I always tell people that it feels more like a neighborhood than an appellation. Even for Columbia Valley it has a unique combination of diverse geology, gentle south slope, consistent winds and happens to be the warmest spot in the state for grapes.
But, years ago (1972), two men, John Williams and Jim Holmes, pioneered grape growing in the area. Everyone thought they were crazy. Even the engineer they hired to dig the well thought they were a couple of crazy “boys”. In 1975 they planted grapes. "It was a good spot, and best of all, we could afford It." says John Williams. Eventually they would plant another vineyard, Ciel du Cheval (see above), the partnership ended in 1994 very amicably both families remain friends to this day and both went on to great things.
The first Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon fruit was sold to Preston. Winemaker is Rob Griffin, now of Barnard Griffin Winery. "The conventional wisdom in the late 1970's was that Washington was a first class white wine region with limited prospects for reds. My opinion on this point was permanently changed in 1978 with the opportunity to crush the first crop from Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain. The depth of color and fruit intensity was definitely a revelation as to the potential for Washington Merlots and Cabernets. The fruit yielded wines of tremendous depth and intensity, real diamonds in the rough and a foreshadow of great things to come." - Rob Griffin.
“For decades the Williams family has been farming classic varieties on Red Mountain, one of America's great AVAs. They know the land like few others do, and their grapes reflect it.” Bob Betz, Master of WineKiona is a family farm. Today, the third generation works the farm and makes the wine. They sell to the best wineries in the state and keep some of the best fruit for themselves. Today, all the land that can be planted with grapes is. But, one of the benefits in being the first to plant is that they can produce truly world class wine that is remarkably affordable.
Kiona Estates Cuvee 2014
A new wine from some of the oldest grapes on Red Mountain (plus some Columbia Valley fruit). The Columbia Valley components bring acid, fruit, and drinkability, while the Red Mountain additions contribute depth, structure, and color. This is a terrific blend of Estate fruit, primarily Cabernet and Merlot with a little Syrah thrown in for good measure. This wine packs serious punch for the price! Holds up to wines twice or even three times the price!
Vineyards: 34% Vista, 23% Nine Canyon, 17% Emory, 15% Kiona Estate, 7% Heart of the Hill, 4% Ranch at the End of the Road
Composition: 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre.
Now you can spend more money if you want to. But a wine of this provenance is rarely seen at this price point.
Join us for special evening Wednesday Feb 14th 6 pm with Paul Hobbs winemaker Greg Urmini RSVP 206 682 7374
Photograph Copyright Mitch Tobias
Paul Hobbs is one of the most respected and influential winemakers in the world. Paul started his career in 1977 and over the last 40 years has worked with Robert Mondavi, Opus One, Simi and most famously in Argentina with the Catena family and was the first winemaker bottle varietal labeled Malbec. He founded Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991 and Vina Cobos in 1999. Twice named Wine Personality of the Year by Robert Parker, Jr., he continues to be a leading consultant winemaker around the globe. He has made wines everywhere from Hungary to Uruguay.
Photograph Copyright Mitch Tobias
Paul is highly regarded as winemaker and has inspired a number of nicknames among the press, from “Trendsetter” to “Prospector”. Forbes recently called him “The Steve Jobs of winemaking”.
In 2004, Paul Hobbs Winery 2002 To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon earned 100 pt score in Wine Advocate and Hobbs was named "Most Important Winemaker in California" by Robert Parker
Paul Hobbs Winery focuses on single vineyard varietal wines sourced from some of the best sites in Northern California – Hyde, Beckstoffer, Stagecoach to name just a few. A farmer at heart, Paul is a true vigneron. They have put together a solid team of vineyards and growers. It is these strong relationships that the winery is built on. The focus is small production, vineyard designated wines. Meticulous vineyard management, hand harvested, low intervention winemaking, all native ferment, aged in French oak, all unfiltered and un-fined mean that these wines taste of place.
“Terroir- driven chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet are the focus at Paul Hobbs Winery.” –Paul Hobbs
In addition to his eponymous winery his second label CrossBarn is not so much a lesser wine but a place to put all that fruit that he finds. CrossBarn began as just one small lot of Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2000 vintage but its popularity has inspired the introduction of chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and more. With CrossBarn, Paul ventures beyond the vineyards sourced for Paul Hobbs wines while holding to his ideals of sustainable vineyard practices and gentle winemaking techniques, to bring you wines of stunning quality and exceptional value.
With as much as Paul has going on it is not surprising that he needs a little help.
Greg Urmini a Sonoma native and graduate of Cal Poly came to work as a summer intern in 2007. Greg progressed up the ranks from Cellar Worker to Production Assistant then to Assistant Winemaker. In 2014, he was promoted to Winemaker at CrossBarn. Then in 2016, Greg was promoted to Director of Winemaking.
“Working for Paul Hobbs has been a true honor and blessing. To learn and grow with an organization makes me feel like I’m part of a family. Paul’s winemaking and personal philosophies coincide with my own. Care and nurture for the fruit from vine to bottle which then turns that great fruit into a beautiful glass of wine. I enjoy waking up each morning with a burning passion for the industry as well as curiosity of how we can make our wines great," said Greg.
CrossBarn is named for the Family farm in upstate New York. His father grew apples, as well as few table grapes. He and his father always talked about planting Vinfera and making wine. He tells the story of tasting Chateau Yquem with father at an early age, and how he was transported by the experience. Seems poetic that would name the winery after his Father’s farm. Goes to show you can take the boy out of the farm but you can’t take farm out of the boy.
“With my idle hands there's nothing I can't do
But be the Devil’s plaything baby and know that I've been used”
-Idle Hands by the Gutter twins
To say Mark McNeilly and Trey Busch like to keep busy is literally an understatement. Both have made a name for themselves in the wine business, not just as winemakers but as leaders in the industry. Both Mark Ryan Winery and Sleight of Hand Winery garner scores in the 90’s across the board in the press. Both, these guys are not just successful winemakers but champions of the Washington wine industry. They are also great friends, lovers of good food and great music.
“Let your hands do what they will do
Stand inside, make your maker’s move”
Launched in 2009 with a wine called Idle Hands, the wine quickly became a cult hit. 'Idle Hands' was named after a song by Gutter Twins - Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees and Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs.
Both of the Underground wine project wines are sourced from Red Mountain. Idle Hands is a 90% Syrah 10% Cabernet Blend sourced from Red Heaven Vineyard. Devil’s Playground is the inverse, 90% Cabernet and 10% Syrah sourced from Quintessence Vineyard. Both these wines are great expressions of Red Mountain fruit.
“My eyes have seen, they have been shown
This is an occupation to stand alone”
In the highly competitive world of wine it is rare to see this sort of collaboration and camaraderie. These guys make great wine and are the sort of guys that make working in the business fun.
DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 (WA) $37.99
This is a delicious, lively and very luxurious Red Mountain Cab for the price. Lots of vanilla laced blackberries, cassis and mocha flavors, with bright, refreshing acidity and juicy tannins. The wine is full bodied and definitely drinks with some sizzle. A nice buy in small batch, top shelf Cab.
IDLE HANDS CAB SYRAH 2014 (WA) $32.99
Super rich and full bodied Syrah based blend From Mark Ryan and Trey Busch using Red Mountain's top vineyards. Dark, sexy and full of mocha, blackberry, plum and roasted coffee bean notes. Delicious with a big steak.
10 years ago, the 2007 vintage marked one of the best in Washington State. Quilceda received another 100 pts score, Cayuse and K Vinters both received 99 pts for Syrah and a little project on Red Mtn got the highest score 97 pts, for a Cabernet sauvignon from Red Mountain in the Wine Spectator. The Grand Rêve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Collaboration Series Reserve 2007 was jointly made by Ross Mickel and Mark Ryan using Ciel du Cheval fruit. “No Washington Cabernet has rated higher in Wine Spectator annals.”
Grand Reve Vintners started as a collaboration between Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson to focus on the Red Mountain AVA. This was a fascinating project where five top winemakers made wine from the same vineyard. Ben Smith (Collaboration I) made a Cabernet blend, Ross Michel (Collaboration II) a Rhone blend, Mark McNeilly (Collaboration III) a Syrah, Carolyn Lakewold (Collaboration IV) a Merlot, and Chris Gorman (Collaboration V) a Grenache.
One of the releases was that Cabernet Reserve, made with Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan and Ross. Harvey Steiman wrote, “Supple, generous and beautifully focused, accenting its ripe currant and raspberry fruit with hints of licorice, sage, red meat and mineral, lingering on the expressive finish. Combines ripeness with power and exceptional grace.” Only 100 cases were made of this wine. Drink ‘em, if you got ‘em.
Ross got his start in the wine biz working at Canlis with Master Sommelier Rob Bigelow. He went on to work with Chris Upchurch at Delille. (Interestingly Chris’ Eponymous vineyard is on Red Mtn.) He then went on to work with Master of Wine, Bob Betz. For almost ten years he worked at the masters side fine tuning his skills not only as a winemaker but as a scholar and taster. He has traveled the world (Australia, South America, Europe and South Africa) to learn all he could about wine.
Let’s just say Ross knows his way around Cabernet and Red Mountain. What I am writing about today is his 2013 Red Mountain Cabernet. This is made using Red Mountain fruit: Quintessence & Ciel du Cheval and just flat out rocks!
ROSS ANDREW RED MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 $19.99 btl / save $10Rich and dense with black fruit, licorice and spice. Well-structured and refined. This is a powerful blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon & 4% Merlot. This is what Washington State Cabernet should taste like! Seriously the best deal on Cabernet in the state!
This is a great example of Red Mtn Cabernet at $29.99 it is a remarkable value. At $19.99 well it’s just stupid good! get yours while you still can!