Good Fruit Grower

February 1

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 47

24 FEBRUARY 1, 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER I f there's a new frontier for luxury Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the owners of California's Duckhorn Wine Company think they've found it. (Hint, it's in Washington, not Napa Valley.) Dan and Margaret Duckhorn, founders of Duckhorn Vineyards and Duckhorn Wine Company, are known within the industry for their pioneering spirit. When they established Duckhorn Vineyards, one of the first 40 wineries in Napa Valley in the mid-1970s, they focused on making Merlot wine famous in the middle of Cabernet Sauvignon country. They launched Paraduxx Winery in 1994, the only winery at the time dedicated solely to nontraditional, non-Bor- deaux style red blend wines, and, in 1996, began Goldeneye Winery to make Pinot Noir wines from California's Anderson Valley, years before the Pinot Noir boom. "They've always been driven to go to the best place for a given variety," said Carol Reber, senior vice president and chief marketing and business development officer for Duckhorn Wine Company, which is a collection of six wineries. "That pioneering spirit is in the company's culture and DNA and is what led us to Washington state and to Red Mountain." Canvasback story Reber was one of the champions behind Duckhorn's Washington proj- ect, called Canvasback Wines, and is in part responsible for bringing the California wine company to Washington. With Canvasback, Duckhorn is staking its claim on Red Mountain to make Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Canvasback made its first Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2012 vintage by sourcing fruit from such acclaimed vineyards as Ciel du Cheval, Hedges, Klipsun and Kiona. Wine inventory was sold out in a matter of months. In 2014, Canvasback planted a 20-acre estate vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines near Col Solare vineyard and win- ery and Force Majeure Vineyards. East Wenatchee, Washington, native Brian Rudin joined as Canvasback winemaker in 2014. He uses the custom wine facility Artifex in Walla Walla to craft the Red Mountain wine. Since the initial Canvasback wine release of 2,000 cases, production has ramped up quickly. Rudin plans to make 18,000 cases from the 2015 vintage. And that's before the estate vineyard begins bearing fruit that should add another 4,000 to 6,000 cases to annual wine production. The Canvasback story began during an executive, off-site meeting held on a rainy, spring day in 2011. As Reber tells it, the company was holding an extensive tasting of Merlot, red blends and Cabernet Sauvignon wines with Washington wines mixed in. It was a blind tasting so no one knew which were company wines or competitor wines. "When we were done with the tasting and got to the unveiled Cabernet set of wines, we were absolutely blown away by the quality of Washington Cabernet," she said to Good Fruit Grower. "We thought the quality of Washington was outstanding." Duckhorn's President and CEO Alex Ryan told his winemaker to "get yourself a ticket and get up there" to learn the landscape and search for a possible vineyard location. "What we found in Washington was a concen- tration of a few large, successful wineries and hundreds of small, upstart wineries, many very successful in their own right," Reber said. "It was clear to us that there was a unique opportunity to launch our own project." She adds that during Duckhorn's reconnaissance trips to Washington and discussions with some of the state's top growers and winemakers about Cabernet Sauvignon, all fingers pointed to Red Mountain AVA. Red Mountain, in lower Yakima Valley, is the state's smallest wine region, with Centerpiece A blind tasting of wines brought Duckhorn Wine Company to Washington. by Melissa Hansen California HOME IN WASHINGTON

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - February 1