We’re fond of referring to Yakima Valley as “the cradle of the Washington wine industry.” We say this for the following reasons:
The state’s earliest vineyards were planted here primarily because of the work of Walter Clore, who was based in Prosser.
The Pacific Northwest’s first federally approved American Viticultural Area was Yakima Valley on April 4, 1983, eight months ahead of the establishment of Willamette Valley AVA in Oregon.
Some of the state’s first vines were planted by W.B. Bridgman in the valley as early as 1914 along Snipes Mountain near Sunnyside.
Yakima Valley today remains an important region with nearly 20,000 acres of wine grape vineyards and more than 60 wineries. While it nests in the expansive Columbia Valley AVA, there are three sub-appellations in Yakima Valley: Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain and Red Mountain. This simply means Yakima Valley is a diverse and growing region.
At this spring’s seventh-annual Cascadia International Wine Competition, 22 wine professionals judged more than 1,000 wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. Here are gold medal-winning wines from 2019 Cascadia that used grapes from Yakima Valley.
Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the winery, and see the full list of medal winners at greatnorthwestwine.com.
Kyle Johnson, who served as their winemaker for now-closed Olsen Estates, used 90% whole-berry fermentation to develop opulent aromas of black plum, chocolate, saddle leather and chorizo. A good acid structure with stylish, tightly woven tannins are a superb foundation for the blackberry fruit flavors infused with pepper, Scandinavian black salt licorice and deep florals.
A pleasant medium-length finish would pair well with barbecued spare ribs and all the fixings.
Aromas and flavors of raspberry sauce, plum and dark cherries harmonize as raspberry-plum chutney fills out the palate. Balanced acidity and smooth tannins allow the finish to continue with raspberry.
The complex nose opens with spice and a medley of black fruit. In the mouth, flavors of late summer blackberries, Van cherries, a dollop of Hershey’s chocolate syrup and smooth tannins end with a long, satisfying finish.
Fascinating aromas of black cherry, fig, vanilla wafer and sandalwood leap out. The texture is akin to satin with a bit of naughtiness that gives it a kick in the midpalate. Its finish is long and slow, with echoes of pâté, incense and Chukar Cherries enrobed in milk chocolate.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue operate Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.
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