In 1975, John and Ann Williams (Kiona Vineyards) planted Red Mountain’s first vines in the scrubby desert soil just west of the Tri-Cities. The banks thought he was nuts and refused to loan him money for the project. He literally sunk all of his money into a hole in the ground, and with the aquifer tapped, the desert bloomed. Red Mountain AVA now produces the most sought-after grapes in the state, easily fetching the highest prices once bottled. The wines are red and bold with strong tannins that, when managed well, provide excellent structure and age-ability. For food pairings, think red and smoked meats.
Kiona Vineyards Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
(Red Mountain; $65)
Sourced from the AVA’s oldest vines, the Kiona Old Block exhibits a softer tone than younger vines in the area. The aromas are red fruits like currants with an herbal almost grassy note. Red fruits on the palate are accompanied by a hint of bell pepper and a puff of cinnamon. Old Block elegantly expresses the AVA’s most desirable characteristics.
Hedges Family Estate DLD Syrah 2012
(Red Mountain; $38)
Red Mountain is not best known for its Syrah’s, but this purple-black example proves that it can be done well. The nose is earthy with a whiff of star anise and allspice, while also a bit floral suggesting roses and lilacs. It turns dark with blackberry and black plum on the palate finishing with some toasty dried herbs.
Hightower Cellars Red Mountain Reserve 2012
(Red Mountain; $55)
Hightower Cellars is a great example of how boutique wineries add character and quality to an AVA. This Red Mountain Reserve conveys intense dried Bing cherry aromas with vanilla and even some minty notes. Expertly finessed tannins give a supple round mouth feel supporting flavors of cassis, black plum and tobacco.
Col Solare Red Mountain 2012
(Red Mountain; $75)
In partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle, Col Solare is an Old World-style property with vineyards fanning in a radial pattern from the goldenrod-colored winery. Winemaker Daryl Allwine (seriously) coaxes dark cherry, blackberry and tobacco aromas from his first vintage with Col Solare. It has a sensual silky texture and a long lingering finish.
Terra Blanca Winery Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
(Red Mountain; $48)
Even at the tender age of five, winemaker and owner Keith Pilgrim had a wine collection. When his wife ReNae vetoed his sailboat tour business idea, they invested in Plan B – 300 acres of sagebrush on Red Mountain. This Cabernet Sauvignon gives off violet, raspberry and a touch of cedar on the nose and goes from red to black fruit on the tongue. The solid tannin structure yields a spiciness to the finish. This wine will lay down for years (if you can keep yourself from drinking it immediately).
Fidelitas Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
(Red Mountain; $65)
Winemaker Charlie Hoppes coaxed luscious blackberry pie, cocoa, and leather aromas with a hit of black pepper into this Estate vintage. The palate smacks of red fruits – raspberry and cherry – while juicy acidity and balanced tannins lend big size to the wine. Drink it now or put it away for a few years.