By Kori ~ August 22nd, 2008.
While Paul Gregutt named Red Willow Vineyard one of the Top Ten vineyards in Washington State in his book, Washington Wines & Wineries, I got the distinct impression that his ranking was based more on longevity than anything else. As I pointed out in my Red Willow Vineyard: The Mother of Washington Syrah post, Red Willow has one of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon blocks in the state, planted in 1973, and the first Syrah block in the state, planted in 1986.
In my second Red Willow post on July 30, I mentioned the long and close working relationship between Red Willow Vineyard and Columbia Winery, dating back over 30 years. While Columbia has made some excellent wines with Red Willow grapes, I believe that the Old World-style of most of those wines was more a function of the winemaker than the grapes themselves. As a result, Red Willow has probably not received the attention that they deserve since that Old World-style has not been as popular with many New World consumers.
In the last few years, Red Willow has been able to diversify their grape production away from almost exclusive use by Columbia Winery and into the hands of a number of other notable Washington producers, such as Betz, DeLille, Long Shadows, Owen Roe, Fall Line, Masset, Wineglass, Adams Bench, Barrage, Cavatappi, Natalie’s Estate, ZanZibar, Kana, and Andrew Rich.
You will want to be on the lookout for some of these releases over the next few years. I believe that when you see and are able to taste some of the releases from these wineries and their talented winemakers using Red Willow grapes, the true potential and value of this vineyard to the Washington wine industry will be realized. While Ciel du Cheval, Boushey, and Champoux vineyards get most of the hype today, they may be looking up at Red Willow five years from now.
Filed under: American Wine, Vineyards, Washington State Wine