Food & Drink

Great Northwest Wine: Hit gold from Yakima Valley’s Red Mountain

It is neither red, nor is it a mountain, but “Brown Ridge” doesn’t sound like much of a grape growing region.

Red Mountain is a 4,040-acre bench in Washington’s eastern Yakima Valley, and in the 40 years since the first wine grapes were planted amid sand and sagebrush, Red Mountain has developed into what is arguably the most important region in Washington. It also is the state’s smallest American Viticultural Area.

Red Mountain doesn’t produce the most grapes in Washington, but it does have the reputation for growing arguably the best. And most of them are red (more than 90 percent).

On average, Red Mountain is the warmest spot in Washington. As such, the grapes never have trouble ripening. In addition, Red Mountain vineyard land is by far the most expensive in the state.

And about the name: It comes from cheatgrass that grows on the ridge and turns reddish in color each spring.

Here are six wines from Red Mountain grapes that earned gold medals at this spring’s Great Northwest Wine Competition. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or call the wineries directly.

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