Red Mountain, which is a part of the historic Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area, offers sweeping views of vineyards and provides some of the Northwest’s top red wines. (Courtesy of Richard Duval Images)

Northwest Wine: Red Mountain turns more red and green

In recent years, Red Mountain has turned more red — and more green.

The bench at the eastern end of the Yakima Valley is one of the warmest regions of the vast and arid Columbia Valley and has developed into one of the premium grape growing regions in the Pacific Northwest.

In the past couple of years, a lot of planting has converted vast tracts of sagebrush into lush vineyards, thanks in no small part to an irrigation project that has brought precious water to Red Mountain.

Much of Red Mountain’s recent fame has been with cabernet sauvignon, but other varieties are thriving and creating fanfare, too.

Here are some of the top red wines from Red Mountain that we have tasted recently. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Côtes de Ciel 2013 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Counoise, Red Mountain, $23: Red Mountain pioneering vigneron Jim Holmes and his winemaking son, Richard, launched their Côtes de Ciel brand with the 2012 vintage. This effort with counoise is the first vintage for their label with this grape they planted in 2000. Expect aromas of cherries, blueberry and chocolate-covered marshmallow with a whiff of campfire smoke. Inside, it carries a muscular stature with flavors of blackberry, dried cherry and pomegranate. This won a gold medal at the 2016 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. (15.1 percent alcohol)

EFESTE 2013 Taylor Mag Vineyard Estate Petit Verdot, Red Mountain, $50: This Woodinville cult winery is the brainchild of Daniel and Helen Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin and Angela Taylor — the first letters of their last names form F-S-T. Their Taylor Mag planting is dedicated to red Bordeaux varieties cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot. The nose is redolent of boysenberry and pomegranate with dried herbs, white pepper and raisin. Its flavor profile leads with marionberry and elderberry flavors, backed by firm tannins. (14%)

Forsyth Brio 2012 Kiona Vineyard Mourvèdre, Red Mountain, $35: Veteran winemaker David Forysth’s work with this red rhône grape carries dark aromas of blackberry and blueberry, joined by gaminess, savory hints of black olive and fun touches of chalkboard dust and pencil lead. Voluptuous tannins and pomegranate acidity set up for a rich and focused finish. These wines also are available at the Walter Clore Center in Prosser. (15.4%)

Kiona Vineyards &Winery 2012 Carménère, Red Mountain, $35: The Williams family grows 5 acres of this little-known red Bordeaux variety on its Heart of the Hill Vineyard, and it makes for one of Washington state’s largest bottlings. Classic carm aromas of sweet herbs and moist potting soil mix with fruity notes of marionberry, black currant and spicy chocolate, followed by flavors of black plum and black currant which lead to espresso grounds tannins. Enjoy with lamb or pork. (14.5%)

Maloney Wines 2013 Scooteney Flats Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65: Cornell grad Joshua Maloney’s background in Washington state includes a long list of acclaimed red wines for behemoths Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Milbrandt brothers, but his young eponymous project is tiny and focused. His cab opens with dark and penetrating aromas of muscovado sugar and vanilla leading into a mix of blackberry milkshake, dark chocolate cordial cherry and earthiness. On the palate, it’s bold yet bright featuring a blend of blueberry with chocolate-coverage pomegranate, capped by a long handshake of tannin. (15%)

Martin-Scott Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $28: East Wenatchee vintner Mike Scott traveled to Shaw Vineyard for this superb cab. It offers aromas of poached cherry and plum, followed by dark, dense flavors of ripe blackberry, black cherry and black currant. All the rich flavors are backed up by firm but pliable tannins that give way to a long finish. This wine won a gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. (14.3%)

Sparkman Cellars 2013 Ruckus Syrah, Red Mountain, $52: Woodinville vintner Christian Sparkman deepens his reputation with Ruckus, a Côte Rôtie style of syrah he began courting in 2006. The program of 33 percent new French oak makes for enticing aromas of caramel corn with sweet plums, leather, cocoa and toast. Its structure is suave as marionberry and blueberry flavors are framed by fine-grained tannins and polished by a layer of bittersweet chocolate in the finish. (14.5%)

Telaya Wine Co. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $40: Boise winemaker Earl Sullivan isn’t confident Idaho’s Snake River Valley can get cabernet sauvignon to ripen each vintage, so he’s a new customer of young Quintessence Vineyards. This cab features aromas of sweet oak, plum, marionberry, white chocolate and baking spices, followed by mouth-filling plum skin tannins and raspberry acidity. (15.5%)

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at

Talk to us

More in Life

Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake, photographed Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
These 4 recipes will prevent the heartbreak of blah desserts

Each of them is decadent and well worth the calories, and they’ll all become your new favorites.

Snohomish Historical Preservation Commission member Fred Cruger with his dog, Duffy, in Arlington along one of the history walk sections at Centennial Trail. The event will be up through September. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Discover local history as you walk the Centennial Trail

Take a smartphone quiz as you stroll the trail. If you answer every question correctly, you’ll win a prize.

Rosemary Fish Fillets with Lemon Garlic Pasta. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Lemon, garlic sauce, rosemary make flavorful fish dish

This recipe calls for mahi-mahi, but any type of firm white fish will work — snapper, tilapia or cod.

A course of traffic-cone slaloms is one way to help teens improve their driving skills. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Her teen is putting pedal to the metal for accident avoidance

She signed the new driver up for an advanced collision avoidance class taught by Defensive Driving School.

Seattle filmmaker ‘would have been honored’ by being at Emmys

Lynn Shelton, who died in May, was nominated for directing and producing Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, now a symbol of peace and reunification. (Rick Steves’ Europe)
Rick Steves: Today’s Berlin is freedom’s victory dance

Checkpoint Charlie is now a capitalist sideshow. You’ll be sold fake bits of the wall, WWII gas masks and DDR medals.

We need to make suicide prevention a public health priority

The pandemic has impacted our mental well-being. Be on the lookout for suicidal behavior.

2020 Jeep Renegade adds more features for lower trim levels

All models have a new telematics unit, and a 9-speaker Kenwood premium audio system is available.

Blue leadwort is a low-growing perennial that acts as a colorful groundcover for the garden. (Getty Images)
A few perennial gems to help brighten up the fall garden

He can’t help but find new treasures to plant each time he visits the nursery. Here are four he added recently.

Most Read