Good Fruit Grower

February 1

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26 FEBRUARY 1, 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER W hile some winemakers might become bored making just one type of wine, Brian Rudin is grateful for the chance to focus on a single varietal. Rudin, winemaker for Washington's Canvasback, has a purposeful winemaking mission: craft the best Cabernet Sauvignon wine from the state's Red Mountain appellation. Canvasback, owned by California's Duckhorn Wine Company, is a testament to Washington's growing wine promi- nence and national recognition of wine quality. Canvasback, the sixth winery in the Duckhorn portfolio, is the only Duckhorn winery outside the Golden State. Canvasback released its fi rst wines from the 2012 vintage and recently planted an estate vineyard on Red Mountain near Benton City. Good Fruit Grower visited Rudin during the fi nal days of harvest last October to catch him in the throes of crush. He was busy picking up grapes from Hedges Family Estates' Jolet Vineyard, destemming grapes on the crush pad, and checking fermentation. Although he won't have estate fruit for winemaking until the 2016 harvest, he has access to some of Red Mountain's best Cabernet Sauvignon growing sites. Red Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) has some of the highest heat units in the state and is known for its bold and impactful fruit. "But within Red Mountain there's regional- ity," Rudin said. The southeast side tends to produce fruit with intense dark color, huckleberry and blackberry fl avors and bright acids, while fruit on southwest facing slopes have more sarsapa- rilla and spice notes, softer acids and elegant textures. He also said that the bench below Sunset Road, with its alkaline soils and strong winds, produces powerful, thick-skinned fruit. Rudin strategically blends a very small percentage — a little more than 5 percent — of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Walla Walla Valley AVA to help polish the edges of his wines and accent fruit from Red Mountain. Sourcing fruit from Walla Walla Valley also helps extend harvest and crush because grapes usually ripen two weeks after Red Mountain. Because Canvasback wine is labeled as Washington State Red Mountain AVA, 95 percent of the grapes must come from Washington and 85 percent from Red Mountain AVA. The Canvasback name is in keeping with Duckhorn Wine Company's waterfowl tradition and joins its other winery names of Paraduxx, Migration, Decoy, Duckhorn Vineyards and Goldeneye. Canvasback ducks migrate along the Pacifi c Flyway and have breeding grounds in Washington. Longwinds Vineyard Canvasback's estate vineyard, one of the highest vineyards in elevation on Red Mountain, is aptly named Longwinds. Rudin said the mountain's steady breezes provide good, quality airfl ows that help dry fruit after rain events and minimize disease. The top of the vineyard is around 1,100 feet elevation, while the lowest point is around 900 feet. The steep slope helps defend CANVASBACK Brian Rudin practices a vineyard-focused approach to winemaking. by Melissa Hansen PHOTO BY MELISSA HANSEN Winemaker Brian Rudin stands in Canvasback's estate vineyard named Longwinds. The 20-acre block, at 1,100 feet in elevation, is one of the highest vineyards on Red Mountain. RO "My goal is to �igure out the sweet spots on Red Mountain and use the breadth of resources and tools I have to make wine." —Brian Rudin

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