By Kori ~ November 19th, 2008.
Continuing our visits to some of the major vineyards in Washington State, Dad (John) and I made a day trip to the legendary Boushey Vineyards and the up-and-coming Elephant Mountain Vineyards.
Dick Boushey planted his first blocks of grapes in 1980 just off of County Line Road, about five miles north of Grandview, Washington, in the Yakima Valley AVA. Walking through some of the north/south rows, the deep sand almost looks like ant beds with no ants. We observed very little rock or gravel in these south sloping vineyards in the Rattlesnake Mountains.
Boushey Vineyards started with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and now grows most of the other major red varieties as well. From our experience, we believe that Syrah may be the best Boushey-grown variety today. If you come across a Boushey vineyard-designate Syrah bottling, I encourage you to give it a try. Boushey grows for some of the best winemakers in Washington, including Betz, DeLille, Fidelitas, Forgeron, Long Shadows, and McCrea.
Heading back toward the city of Yakima from Boushey Vineyards, you’ll pass through the small town of Wapato. West of Wapato you’ll find the famed Red Willow Vineyard that we featured in several posts earlier this year (here, here, and here). North and east of Wapato in the relatively new Rattlesnake Hills AVA we visited the Elephant Mountain Vineyards on Nightingale Road and were very impressed with what they are doing. The vineyard, established by Joe and Tom Hattrup in 1998, is located high on the southern slopes of Rattlesnake Ridge at the base of Elephant Mountain. The north/south rows are gently rolling, mostly in deep sand, with some rocks close to the top of the vineyard in the Syrah rows.
Once again, at Elephant Mountain, we’ve found a grower with a background in orchards doing great things with wine grapes. As with Boushey, Elephant Mountain started out with only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and now is growing many other varieties including Syrah. I don’t believe that there is any question that Elephant Mountain is one of the Yakima Valley’s finest younger vineyards. While I haven’t seen many Elephant Mountain vineyard- designate bottlings yet, their grapes are playing an important part in the bottlings of some of the state’s best vintners.
As a bonus, Elephant Mountain Vineyards boasts a visitors’ area with a spectacular view of the Yakima Valley. All in all, we had another great day in Washington Wine Country.
Filed under: American Wine, Vineyards, Washington State Wine