Good Fruit Grower

September 2013

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Grapes Rocks with a story DuBrul Vineyard is a geologist's dream, showcasing rocks from different eras and catastrophic events. G by Melissa Hansen eology is an important part of what makes a wine appellation unique and distinct. The Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area was influenced by several geological wonders, all which can be observed at DuBrul Vineyard. As you drive up the dirt road leading to the top of the 45-acre DuBrul Vineyard located along the eastern side of the Yakima Valley near Sunnyside, Washington, you can't miss seeing a big pile of rocks. But these aren't just any rocks. "These are rocks with a story," said Hugh Shiels, owner of DuBrul Vineyard and Côte Bonneville winery. "The rocks tell a story about the geology of the Yakima Valley AVA." The appellation, Washington State's first AVA, is —Hugh Shiels celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year. Hugh and Kathy Shiels purchased an apple orchard in 1991 and began converting it to a vineyard the following year. The rock pile, there when they bought the land, contains the kind of rocks that excite geologists like Kevin Pogue of Whitman College's geology department. Pogue has toured the DuBrul Vineyard and combed through the "My goal is about fruit intensity." These four types of rocks found in DuBrul Vineyard each tell a different story about the region's geologic influences. rock pile to find several types of rocks, including granite and ancient quartzite, basalt, igneous rocks from the Ellensburg ormation, and others. F According to an article written by Pogue, Yakima Valley's story begins 15 million years ago when molten lava flows covered eastern Washington and solidified into a 13,000-foot blanket of basalt. The weight of the basalt depressed the Earth's surface and created the Columbia Basin. The next influence was the ancestral Columbia River. The Columbia once flowed through the Yakima Valley, depositing granitic rocks from the Canadian Rockies, igneous rocks from the Ellensburg Formation (rocks formed from Cascade volcanic ash and sediments mixed with basalt), and other rocks and sediment. The course of the river changed when tectonic upthrusts created Rattlesnake Hills and Horse Heaven Hills and diverted the Columbia River eastward to the Wallula Gap. Lastly, when Glacial Lake Missoula built up behind an ice dam some 15,000 years ago and flooded Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington, its floodwaters backed up into the Yakima Valley and deposited more rocks and sediment. Pogue's description of Yakima Valley AVA's geologic influences can all be witnessed at DuBrul Vineyard. The basalt promontory that the vineyard is planted on, combined with the flood-borne rocks and wind-blown loess and volcanic ash, has created low-vigor soils important to premium wine grape production. World class DuBrul Vineyard, named after Shiels's wife's family, was planted in 1992 and now includes six varietals—Cabernet Franc, Cabernet auvignon, Syrah, Merlot, CharS donnay, and Riesling. About 25 percent of the fruit is used for Côte Bonneville's estate wines, the Shiels family winery. The rest is sold to more than a dozen wineries. From the vineyard's start, he envisioned a worldclass wine grape vineyard. "My goal is about fruit intensity," he explained. "I want my fruit to be intense and be made into wines that are supple, elegant, and appeal to consumers." He enlisted expert viticulturists and consultants to help him with vineyard layout, variety selection, trellis 36 SEPTEMBER 2013 Good Fruit Grower

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