Back in the 1940s, Mike Andrews' grandfather began a farm in the desolate region south of the Yakima Valley and was responsible for clearing sagebrush from more than 100,000 acres for other farmers.
Today, Andrews grows more than 1,100 acres of vineyards. He began planting Coyote Canyon Vineyard in 1994 after spending years growing other crops and running a cattle business. Through the years, he has continued to expand his vineyard, adding 700 acres in a three-year spurt from 2006 to 2009.
In 2006, Andrews decided to move into the winemaking business and purchased Yakima Cellars, a winery in downtown Yakima. The location did not end up working well for the winery, so in 2008, he moved to the Winemakers Loft in Prosser.
"Downtown Yakima wasn't the best location," he said. "But being along the highway in Prosser has been great."
Coyote Canyon Winery has quickly gained a reputation for producing some of Washington's finest wines, winning accolades and medals for nearly every wine it releases.
The winery has three tiers of wines. The Downtown Red and White are the only holdovers from Yakima Cellars and are Coyote Canyon's least-expensive offerings. The Coyote Canyon label includes the winery's standard wines, and the H/H Estates is the reserve line.
The H/H name goes back to Andrews' time in cattle ranching, when that was the name of his operation.
Under the H/H label, Andrews has wines named for his grandfather (GW Smith Malbec), his father (Robert Andrews Mourvedre) and himself (Michael Andrews Red).
He also has a Cabernet Sauvignon called Big John that was named for a guy who bought one of his bulls in Reno, Nev.
Bozak Red, his Bordeaux-style blend, is named for a 2,600-pound bull he once owned.
"Our Bordeaux blend is our biggest, stoutest wine," he said.
Though Andrews grows 26 varieties at Coyote Canyon, nearly half his acreage is dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon, the No. 1 red wine grape in Washington.
He sells about 95 percent of his grapes to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Most of the rest goes to 18 other wineries, and he holds back just 1 percent for his own 4,800 cases.
Coyote Canyon wines are sold in Washington and Idaho. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or call the winery directly at 509-786-7686.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2010 Downtown White, Columbia Valley, $12: This blend of viognier, roussanne and chardonnay opens with aromas of orange zest, strawberry, gooseberry and lavender, followed by flavors of SweeTarts and tropical fruit. It's a tasty and inexpensive wine to pair with shellfish, chicken or pasta.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2011 Roussanne, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: Roussanne is a white Rhine variety that is catching on with Washington winemakers. This is a delicious example with aromas of fresh-cut honeycrisp apple, apricot and dried pineapple. On the palate, it reveals flavors of canned pear and fresh-cut pineapple with lemon custard in the finish.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2011 Sweet Louise, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: This dessert wine is a blend of viognier and riesling from estate grapes. It opens with aromas of creme brulee, lavender, jasmine and orange oil. On the palate, it's a delicious sipper at 13 percent residual sugar that offers flavors of sweet lemon, quince paste, caramel and poached apricot.
H/H Estates 2010 Michael Andrews Reserve Red, Horse Heaven Hills, $35: This premium blend of tempranillo and graciano is named after owner Mike Andrews and is a Spanish-style blend using estate grapes. It offers aromas of blueberry juice, crushed leaf, sarsaparilla and clove. On the palate, it offers big flavors of pomegranate, blueberry and red currant. It's a big wine that will pair with grilled meats, rich stews, braised lamb or empanadas. This wine has not yet been released.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information website. Go to www.greatnorthwestwine.com.
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