Red Willow Vineyard Revisited: Expanding on Tradition



By Kori ~ August 18th, 2010.

Red Willow Vineyard is one of the top vineyards in Washington State. Located in the northwest corner of the Yakima Valley near Wapato, Washington, Red Willow is a fourth-generation family farm, owned and operated by Mike Sauer and his family. 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. The iconic Monsignor Chapel sits atop Red Willow and gives the vineyard a distinct identity.

On our recent trip to the Yakima Valley, we had the pleasure to visit Red Willow Vineyard again. It had been two years since our first visit with the Sauers. It was great to see Mike Sauer and his son Jonathan again as well as meet Jonathan’s wife Kelly and Mike’s son-in-law Rick Willsey. The Sauers are truly one of the finest families in wine country.

Through the years, Mike Sauer and Red Willow Vineyard have been involved in many viticultural research efforts and have experimented with numerous grape varieties. Red Willow Vineyard has had a longstanding relationship with Columbia Winery, formerly known as Associated Vintners, which dates back to 1978. For almost 30 years, Columbia Winery sourced Red Willow fruit almost exclusively. However, in 2005, Columbia started giving up some of their blocks, which allowed other notable Washington producers the opportunity to source this prized fruit. While Columbia is still one of their largest customers, this diversification is allowing the true potential and value of the vineyard to be realized. We have been closely watching the releases of Red Willow wines from some of our favorite wineries including Betz Family Winery, Owen Roe, and Adams Bench. It is exciting to see the different styles that each winemaker brings to the table with fruit from the same vineyard. While Red Willow’s place in the history of the Washington wine industry is already well established, I am glad to see their tradition expanding through these new partnerships as consumers see the Red Willow name on more bottles.

Read more about Red Willow Vineyard in previous posts:

Here are my notes on several wines that we have tasted recently that are produced from Red Willow fruit:

2008 Betz La Côte Patriarche Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Beautiful, inky purple-black. Gorgeous nose with black fruit, smoke, floral, beef jerky, and spice aromas. Luscious black fruits on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with medium to high tannins and a long, lingering finish. Pure, clean, great complexity, and well-balanced.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $55

2007 Owen Roe Red Willow 1973 Block Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep, dark red in color. Gorgeous nose with floral, herbal, and black fruit aromas. Vanilla, toast, nuts, black fruits, spice, nutmeg, and a hint of earth come through on the palate. Very complex and well-balanced with crisp acidity and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: MadWine (Seattle, Washington), $71

2007 Owen Roe Cabernet Franc Rosa Mystica (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Dark red. Black, blue, and red fruits and slight vegetal notes on both the nose and palate. Medium-bodied with medium tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $42

2007 Adams Bench Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Inky purple in color. Nice nose with aromas of raspberry, blackberry, and black cherry. Loads of black fruits and chocolate come through on the palate. Big and bold with a lot of layers. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $48 [Sold out]


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Vineyards, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

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