Good Fruit Grower

December 2012

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Fries explained that both red and white grapes grown in Ancient Lakes tend to have higher acids in general due to the area's cooler temperatures. And because of the dramatic diurnal swings in daytime and nighttime temperatures, the grapes are able to retain their high acids. Red grapes from Ancient Lakes are also high in tan- nins, he said, adding that he picked his Cabernet Sauvignon grapes during the last week in October at 28° Brix. He describes the red wines as those that reward cellaring before drinking. "Saying that Ancient Lakes is good only for whites reminds me when people used to say that Washington State would be known just for its Riesling," Fries said. Arredondo, winemaker at Cave B, agrees that there are zones within the AVA where reds do well. "At Cave B, we grow 18 different varieties, and there are definitely areas where some do better than others," he said, noting that reds do better on the cliff's edge, closer in proximity to the river, and whites do better further away. Arredondo says that while he's had bud damage from past cold temperatures, he's never lost a vine from trunk damage. Grape pioneer Vincent Bryan, one of the first to plant grapes in the state north of Interstate 90, could be considered the Ancient Lakes AVA grape pioneer. He planted the area's first grapes in 1980 for his Champs de Brionne winery, falling in love with the rugged basalt outcroppings and cliffs, bunch grass and sagebrush. "We thought we'd found a special spot for grapes," said Bryan. "At the time, no other vines were in the area aside from some Labrusca grapes being grown by a few growers. I was like a sheepherder in cattle country." Bryan first planted a four-acre experimental vineyard to evaluate the area's grape-growing potential, filling it with northern French varieties—Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. He quickly planted more diverse varieties, expanding the list of reds, because of the enormous climate variations he found. Whites do very well on Bryan's Cave B Estate vineyards, and most of the vineyard is planted to whites. "Clearly, the white grape piece is an important part of the region," Bryan said. White grapes grown here have a very distinct flavor and are true to character, he says. "But a strip runs right along the cliff's edge that is ideally suited for red grapes." Many of the double gold awards they've received have been from classic Italian and French red varieties like Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Syrah. Bryan believes that the future of the Ancient Lakes AVA will be in its vastness and ability to grow a wide diversity of varieties. • GOOD FRUIT GROWER DECEMBER 2012 59 Photo courtesy of White heron cellars

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