Best Wines of Washington's Winegrowing Regions

Posted April 09, 2013

Hot and dry, the Horse Heaven Hills are wide, rolling slopes above the Columbia River where many varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, grow well, and Rhône varieties, such as Viognier and Mourvèdre (as well as Syrah and Grenache), thrive. About 10,000 acres are planted in grapes, with plenty of vineyards, but there are few actual wineries to visit. In fact, many of the wineries that grow grapes here have tasting rooms in Woodinville, such as Alexandria Nicole Cellars, whose Destiny Ridge Vineyard is in the Horse Heaven Hills.


Alexandria Nicole 2009 Alderdale Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, Destiny Ridge Vineyard, $42

The Horse Heaven Hills is one of the more remote AVAs in the state, with vast rolling vineyards overlooking the Columbia River, and only six actual wineries that call it home. Jarrod and Ali Boyle make wines from their Destiny Ridge Vineyard and sell them at their tasting rooms in Prosser and at Woodinville’s Hollywood Hills Schoolhouse. This Cabernet Sauvignon won kudos from our judges for its deep cherry and dark berry fruit, toasted oak, spice and long finish.
Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Finalists:

Andrew Will 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, Discovery Vineyard, $48

Buty 2010 Beast, Horse Heaven Hills, Phinny Hill Vineyard, $40
DenHoed 2008 Andreas, Horse Heaven Hills, Wallula Vineyard, $80

McKinley Springs 2010 Viognier, Horse Heaven Hills, $16

Viognier is originally from the Rhône Valley in France, where it thrives in the heat. In the warm, dry Horse Heaven Hills, Washington Viognier is gaining a following for its lushness and peachy aromas. McKinley Springs Vineyard, a second-generation vineyard owned by Rob Andrews, is mostly a rich, silty loam soil over a deep layer of broken basalt, which helps absorb excess moisture and assists the vines in reaching for that water. Winemaker Doug Rowell’s Viognier has aromas of honey and peach, with a bit more citrus on the palate, a mineral and lime peel finish that is a delight to drink.
Horse Heaven Hills Viognier Finalist:

Syncline 2011 Viognier, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard, $20

Robert Ramsay Cellars 2010 Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hills, McKinley Springs Vineyard, $35

Robert Ramsay winemaker Bob Harris first worked with Mourvèdre grapes from Rob Andrews’ McKinley Springs Vineyard when he was blending it with Syrah. He liked the power and intensity of this deep purple wine, which reminded him of the 100 percent Mourvèdre wines he had experienced from the Bandol region of France. So he made this wine to show how this fruit could shine. He proved his point: A rich, smooth and spicy wine with a lush mouthfeel and velvety finish, this is a good option for Cabernet lovers who want to try something different—and delicious.
Horse Heaven Hills Mourvèdre Finalists:
Hollywood Hill Vineyards 2008 Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hill, $34
Mercer Estates 2009 Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hills, Spice Cabinet Vineyards, $32.99