Fidelitas owner becomes a ‘Wine Boss’

Charlie Hoppes finds it hard to believe next year will be his 25th vintage in Washington. Fans of his wines are just happy he’s been around so long.

The owner of Fidelitas Wines on Red Mountain, near the Tri-Cities, is never one to dawdle, and he continues to develop his winemaking and marketing.

Hoppes’ first winemaking job after college was in 1988 at Snoqualmie Winery. After a brief stint in Walla Walla, he was hired by Chateau Ste. Michelle, where he stayed until 1999, when he went back to Walla Walla to help launch Three Rivers Winery.

Throughout his early career, he wanted to eventually do his own thing, and he started Fidelitas in 2000 as a small side project. Originally, he was to call the winery “Fidelis” and even had corks made for that first vintage. Alas, the name was trademarked by a large retailer, and he had to change to Fidelitas. But pull a cork on any bottle from his inaugural vintage and you’ll find the name “Fidelis” on it.

In 2002, he left Three Rivers to devote all of his energy to Fidelitas and his burgeoning consulting work, which included such clients as Goose Ridge, Cañon de Sol, Ryan Patrick and Zefina.

Hoppes has long been in love with Red Mountain and its rich, ripe grapes. He purchased five acres of land and opened a stylish tasting room in 2007. He also moved into the Puget Sound market when he became part of Urban Enoteca, a tasting room in Seattle. Earlier this year, he opened a facility in nearby Richland, where he makes wine for such brands as Hamilton Cellars, Market Cellars, Cooper Wine Co. and Gamache Vintners. He now makes nearly 20,000 cases of wine annually, 7,500 of which is for Fidelitas.

His entire winemaking operation is now under the playful name “Wine Boss,” and he plans to release new wines under yet-to-be-determined brands.

Hoppes also became a farmer, of sorts. With grape grower Dick Boushey, he planted three acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on his Red Mountain property and hopes to bring in his first estate harvest in 2012. While he brings in grapes from some top vineyards, including Stillwater Creek, Weinbau, Boushey and Champoux, he remains fascinated with Red Mountain and plans to increase his percentage of grapes from Washington’s smallest grape-growing area until it is more than half of his production.

Here are some Fidelitas wines we’ve tasted in recent weeks. Hoppes’ wines are distributed across Washington and other national markets, so check with your favorite wine merchant or contact Fidelitas directly at 509-588-3469.

Fidelitas Wines 2008 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $35: The nose carries hints of fresh crushed blackberry, president plum, dark cherries, black currant, malted milk balls, coffee, Montreal seasoning and minerality. Explosive flavors of fresh plum, boysenberry and marionberry take you on a ride as the vibrant acidity washes back the tannin. Enjoy with lean meats now and hold back a bottle or two for the long haul.

Fidelitas Wines 2008 Boushey Vineyard Red, Yakima Valley, $50: A smooth and pleasing structure is developed inside this medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50 percent), Merlot (44 percent) and Cabernet Franc. It’s a straight shooter with tones of Van cherry, black currant, dusty chocolate and pipe tobacco, capped by a long trail of boysenberry acidity. (351 cases, 14.8 precent alc.)

Fidelitas Wines 2008 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $50: This opens with aromas of red currants, Graham crackers, black olives, minerally earth and Earl Grey tea. The palate is perfectly balanced with oak, acidity, tannin and fruit, with the latter dominated by elegant flavors of blackberries, tobacco, dried cranberries, espresso, tar and chocolate. This is one of the most collectible wines made in Washington.

Fidelitas Wines 2008 Merlot, Red Mountain, $45: This opens with aromas of mulling spices, dried cherries, pipe tobacco and blackberry pie, followed by balanced flavors of cherries, strawberries, cinnamon toast, in-check oak, black licorice, brown sugar and chocolate.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For the freshest reviews, go to www.winepressnw.com/freshpress.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Urban treats prove Switzerland is more than its pristine alpine meadows

For interesting art, colorful old towns and serene waterfront settings, be sure to stop in Zürich, Luzern and Lausanne.

Denise McKenzie, who has been a bartenders at Kuhnle’s Tavern for many years, works behind the bar on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 106 years, Kuhnle’s Tavern in Marysville is closing

Come say farewell Sunday from noon to midnight at the historic bar with five beers on tap and a 50-cent pay phone.

Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Hop on over to Whidbey Island for a garden tour on Saturday, then rock out with local bands in Everett on Saturday night.

Subaru Forester Touring SUV (Photo provided by Subaru)
2025 Subaru Forester Touring

Don’t look now, the 2025 model year vehicles are beginning to hit… Continue reading

Great Plant Pick: Sapphire indigo clematis

What: A profusion of royal purple flowers burst forth in early summer… Continue reading

Decorative floral violet background from a blooming Nepeta cataria catnip, catswort, catmint with bright bee.
Please pollinators with perennials like hyssop, catmint and cape fuschia

Newer cultivars of perennials simply bloom longer, quenching our cravings for color and extending the benefit to bees.

Mountlake Terrace maintenance crew Ty Burns begins demolishing “the bunkers” on Monday, June 10, 2024 in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Eyesore no more: After decades, Mountlake Terrace bunkers bite the dust

The bunkers held a storehouse of history, much of it moldy, outdated and unwanted.

Hitting a homer is hard for most. On this machine, we all have a chance

This restored 1930s Jennings slot machine — with candy prizes for knocking it out of the park — sold for $3,840 at auction.

Airbnb host banned after spilling food in another host’s home

Airbnb bans River Roberts after he accidentally spills food on his host’s sofa. Will he ever be able to book another rental?

The secret to getting ahead at work? A sense of service to others

In contrast, employees who are more focused on their own needs often feel frustrated, underappreciated and unmotivated.

Leslie Davis, left, and Lyndsay Lamb, twin sister stars of HGTV's "Unsellable Houses" and 2004 Snohomish High School graduates, donated a private design session to the school's auction fundraiser for their 20-year reunion. (Photo provided)
Got $2,000? Bid on face time with HGTV’s ‘Unsellable Houses’ twins

The sisters are offering up themselves in a fundraiser for their Class of 2004 Snohomish High 20-year reunion.

Rose Freeman (center) and Anastasia Allison of The Musical Mountaineers play atop Sauk Mountain near Concrete in October 2017. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Musical Mountaineers’ sunset serenade to launch Adopt a Stream campaign

The nonprofit aims to transform into an “accessible model of sustainability,” with solar panels, electric vehicles and more.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.