Our Varietals

Across all sites, we make farming adjustments. Sometimes within a block, or even by the row to optimize expression of terroir. As soil type changes, or a winemaker’s style shifts, we’re able to address that in the vineyard.” –Lacey Lybeck

 
The variance in soil, climate, and sunlight across our five vineyards gives us the ability to coax a range of characteristics from our grapes. From elegant to powerful, with soft or muscular tannins, from dried herbs and spice to a spectrum fruit. Below you’ll find 18 grapes we currently grow for winery clients (the list has been sorted by number of acres). But we have a few plantings up our sleeve yet…

 
CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Total acres planted: 271
Sagemoor, Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a special grape for us. We’ve got vines that date back to when nobody was really planting Cabernet in WA state. We have prized 1972 plantings at Sagemoor, Bacchus, and Dionysus that have never experienced a freeze, despite some killer winters over the past 40+ years. We have 40 acres of 1989 plantings at Weinbau, and 18 acres from 1985 at Gamache. Maintaining cabernet grapes at every one our five sites provides a broad range of flavor profiles which helps us to fulfill a winemaker’s personal vision. At Weinbau, Vineyard Manager Miguel Rodriguez coaxes rich, dark fruit, licorice, and chocolate from small berries he achieves with specialized water management. A livelier red fruit can come from Gamache’s cooler element, plus leather and earth. Dynamic sister properties Bacchus and Dionysus change block by block with oscillating hills and climate, Bing cherries at the edge of a windblown bluff deepen to black cherry as you travel away from it. The maturity of our ’72 plantings mean dried rosemary dried thyme come easily, as well as a generous backbone of tannin.  We have winemakers that blend different Cabernet blocks, and some who focus on one particular spot. We enjoy their final products equally.

MERLOT
Total acres planted: 222
Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

We have a great relationship with growing Merlot. Canopy management and water are huge for this grape. We’re set up to prescribe water exactly how and when the vine needs it, so we can truly control that aspect of the growing. All of our Merlot grapes deliver dense, dark, full-bodied fruit. That said, Bacchus and Dionysus produce an elegant, more feminine style with gentle tannins. Weinbau Merlot is earthy and complex, with a big backbone.

CHARDONNAY
Total acres planted: 160
Sagemoor, Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

This noble grape expresses dynamically in Washington state. Thanks to differences in our sites, we grow a nice juxtaposition of styles. Bacchus and Dionysus offer a rich, dense, classic New World Chardonnay. At the elevated and cooler Gamache Vineyard, the grape retains a crisper acidity with delicate, fresh flavors. Think lemongrass, lemon curd. Weinbau Vineyard on the warm Wahluke Slope can be lush with tropical fruit characteristics.

RIESLING
Total acres planted: 124
Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

We have such a crush on Riesling. Our vineyards grow a variety of clones including mineral-driven Neustadt 90, starfruit-laden Geisenheim 198 and 239, and more. We can support varying winemaker styles from the very ripe and fruity to bone dry. At Weinbau we have some of the first plantings of Riesling on Wahluke Slope dating back to 1981. At Dionysus, block 17 has produced acidic, food-friendly Riesling since 1973. Did you know that Washington state grows the most Riesling in the new world and about as much as Alsace? Sounds like we aren’t the only ones loving this aromatic beauty…

SYRAH
Total acres planted: 71
Sagemoor, Bacchus, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

At Weinbau, we have two unique clones planted in 2005 producing wonderful savory Syrah grapes that appeal to winemakers for how agreeable they are to different house styles. Weinbau’s home on the Wahluke Slope is frequently the hottest vineyard region in the state, which can mean a big juicy mouthful of fruit for Syrah. It took us 10 years of watching, trying, waiting, to figure out how Syrah likes to be treated. If grapes were cast into human archetypes, Syrah would be the Eternal Optimist. The sun will come out tomorrow… It keeps on keepin’ on, behaving as though help (or water) is on the way (whether it is or it isn’t).

CABERNET FRANC
Total acres planted: 62
Bacchus, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

If you walk the Cab Franc rows in our different vineyards, you see a difference in the clusters. At Bacchus the Cabernet Franc clusters are bigger, all of the berries touch. Weinbau clusters are more loose. Fittingly, Bacchus produces wonderful red fruit characteristics—strawberry, rhubarb—with potential for fresh rose petals and tea leaves. Weinbau’s days get a bit hotter, so, the fruit can reach a riper style with earthy elements like dried herbs or leather. At Gamache, Cab Franc is fantastic. Nicely restrained, with fresh cranberry-like acidity, and long, dusty tannins.

SAUVIGNON BLANC
Total acres planted: 49
Sagemoor, Bacchus, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

Another still-vital 1972 grape planting, Sauvignon Blanc from Bacchus is incredibly pure thanks to beautifully balanced canopies. The oscillation of our hills at Bacchus lets us achieve different styles in a single row. True varietal characteristics on the north facing aspects; more star fruit on south facing. At harvest time, we’ll pick up to an exact spot for one winemaker, and the very next vine supports a completely different vision of another winemaker. At Gamache, we have 1985 plantings of Sauv Blanc with amazingly pure expression thanks to their elevation and location, set back from the mighty Columbia River.

MALBEC
Total acres planted: 25
Sagemoor, Weinbau, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

Malbec does well when the fruit is allowed good exposure to the sun. So, we do careful vertical shoot positioning (VSP) to give our vines direct sunlight all morning, and a nice layer of leaf protection later in the day once the grapes have warmed up to ambient temperature. The result is Malbec that ripens to a deep, dense color with broad flavor potential.

PETIT VERDOT
Total acres planted: 15.5
Dionysus
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

We grow our Petit Verdot to be powerful, in a block that winemakers sometimes see fit for vineyard-designated blends. Thanks to how much fruit this varietal grows, we’re able to keep an extra crop on the vine through cell expansion building up the vine’s internal power, then we remove half of the crop leaving only the very best clusters to soak all that power up. We aim to keep our Petit Verdot berries small and mighty. You can add quite a backbone to any red with just 2-3% of this classic black beauty.

PINOT GRIS
Total acres planted: 14.4
Gamache
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

The great Northwest is a wonderful growing region for the crisp, clean, zesty white wine that is Pinot Gris. At a less-hot site like Gamache, Pinot Gris positively excels. Complex aromas, a mouthful of honeydew and bright orchard fruit reminiscent of the organic peaches that grow adjacent to the vines, and always ample acidity. We love examples of this grape from all over the region, but our Gamache fruit really has our hearts (and palates).

VIOGNIER
Total acres planted: 11
Sagemoor, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

Another grape we’re growing in both a warm site and a cool site. Sagemoor imparts a more voluptuous fruit to its Viognier—think Meyer lemon, honeydew. The cooler air at Gamache can help Viognier to achieve a piercing acidity on top of nuanced citrus or melon. Both sites produce rich, beautifully textured wines.

GRENACHE
Total acres planted: 9
Sagemoor, Weinbau
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

Grenache really excites us these days. We have mature plantings at Weinbau that ripen evenly, and ultimately offer a nose of beautiful red fruit and tobacco. We achieve nice tannin at Weinbau as well. Sagemoor’s Grenache is much more dainty, floral, soft. We’ve tried examples from Sagemoor that ebb and flow in the glass with bouquets that continue to develop over hours. Vineyard Manager Lacey Lybeck is experimenting with head-trained Grenache in a sandy corner of Sagemoor. If you’re so inclined and you get the chance, ask her about it.

MOURVEDRE
Total acres planted: 5.5
Weinbau
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

A successful Mourvedre crop requires a lot of care. Vineyard Manager Miguel Rodriguez and our team at Weinbau have worked tirelessly for years on understanding the Mourvedre vines, and WA wine is all the better for it. Small berry size, loose clusters, and a nice canopy to prevent sunburn are crucial. When picked around 19-20 Brix, a winemaker can achieve that Provençal-style rosé. Let it hang until 25-28 Brix and there’s potential for beautifully dense red wine with spice, long tannins, and a range of peppercorns.

BARBERA
Total acres planted: 3.5
Sagemoor
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

Fun is a good word for this grape. Barbera is fun. Barbera is also sensitive to sunburn, so we use overhead sprinklers to provide a cooling effect during the hottest of days. We enjoy growing Barbera because you can pick it at such different times, many styles of winemaking can be realized. Fresh, bright acids will greet an earlier pick, and those classic dusty characteristics can join in if you’re willing to wait.

CARMENERE
Total acres planted: 3.0
Weinbau
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

Growing great Carmenere is a passion of Weinbau’s Vineyard Manager Miguel Rodriguez. We whittle down clusters for even ripeness, and closely monitor ripening because this grape is ready once it hits about 24 Brix. Some say you need a distinct palate to enjoy this spicy treat of a red, but we think Miguel is growing some of the most purely executed Carmenere in WA state, and you need only to taste it from an equally passionate winemaker’s hands to understand the allure.

ROUSSANNE
Total acres planted: 2.5
Sagemoor, Gamache
Follow the links for a deeper dive into each vineyard’s makeup.

We love nurturing this Rhone varietal in two small blocks, one at Gamache and one at Sagemoor. We say “nurture” because Roussanne wants attention, and threatens to rot or ripen unevenly if neglected. In a winemaker’s hands, ours has potential for a range of style choices. Fruit characteristics span across ripe, tropical, baked, or austere. It can have a rich mouthfeel balanced with high-pitched acidity, or be a more delicate, mineral-driven white. We achieve the more viscous, mouth-filling style at Sagemoor, while our Gamache Roussanne is usually favored by winemakers looking for subtler expression of this aromatic grape.

SEMILLON
Total acres planted: 1.5
Dionysus
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

When Dionysus was originally planted we had 18+ acres of Semillon. These days we harvest just over an acre of that original 1997 crop, up in block 20 at the top of the vineyard. Semillon is a moving target, showing abundant fresh lemon and lime zest early in the ripening stages, maturing to fig, honey, and peach with a lanolin softness if left hanging a bit longer. We’ve seen it bottled on its own, or blended with its Bordeaux soul-grape Sauvignon Blanc or, when the stars align, a winemaker can coax stellar ice wine from these grapes.

SANGIOVESE
Total acres planted: 1.25
Sagemoor
Follow the link for a deeper dive into this vineyard’s makeup.

To keep our Sangiovese varietally correct, we remove leaves at veraison for maximum sun exposure, then limit the water. “We give the pain” as Vineyard Manager Lacey Lybeck likes to say. We only have a small amount planted, but we put in the harshest spot we could find. Our goal is to restrict its vigorous nature, to grow the smallest, most dense berries we can produce. The results are juicy and rustic fruit characteristics, bright acid, and beautiful aromas. Sangiovese from Sagemoor makes wines we’d like to taste a second (and third) time.