conquering the mountain

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The hubs and I have a bucket list, but it’s not your traditional list of all these exotic places we someday want to go (we have one of those too!), this list is filled with AVA’s. The list is pretty extensive and encompasses exactly 15.7 countries, but we are determined. Our process is simple. Tackle the ones we can drive to first. That’s why last weekend we (over)packed the car and trekked up to Red Mountain.

Never heard of Red Mountain? I’m not surprised–The Red Mountain AVA is located on a southwest-facing slope in south central Washington (about three hours from Portland on the I-84 and right next to Tri-Cities, WA) and it’s small, only about 4040 acres. But don’t let it’s size fool you because it’s also mighty. Red Mountain is the warmest grape-growing region in Washington and has a unique and complex mixture of the most rare and highly valued soil types. So you know that means – big reds and hot grape varietals. We’re talking Cab, Merlot and Syrah. YUM!

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We got into the Tri-Cities area a bit late Saturday night so we decided to head straight to our hotel. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit difficult deciding on a nice hotel however, we ended up going with a Springhill Marriott which was centrally located, brand new and reasonably priced…which meant more money to buy wine. <—these are my husbands words. I swear.

After a very comfortable night sleep, a carb-filled breakfast and at least two cups of coffee, we were off! Beginning on the east side of the mountain, below is our list in order of where we stopped. Enjoy!

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Col Solare -Talk about a first impression, this place is gorgeous! The winery is a collaboration between Washington state’s Chateau Ste. Michelle and Italy’s famed winemaker, Marchese Piero Antinori, which means Washington grapes with an Italian-style. Our favorite was their 2012 Col Solare, which was a blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot and Syrah.

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Fidelitas – Owned by winemaker Charlie Hoppes, Fidelitas has some really well-made, delicious wines, both whites and reds. Mr. Hoppes is also a consulting wine maker for numerous other Red Mountain wineries and has received numerous accolades for the wines he produced. Our favorite was the 2015 Klipsun Vineyard Optu White and the 2014 Red Mountain Merlot.

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Kiona Vineyards and Winery – Planted in 1975, Kiona is the oldest vineyard on Red Mountain and totally worth a stop. Their Tasting Room is filled with history and is fun to walk around and explore. Gearing up for warmer weather.. we picked up a few bottles of their signature Rosé of Sangiovese and a few bottles of their Columbia Valley Chenin Blanc.

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Anelare – This was my clear favorite, Charlie Hoppes makes the wines here, but his wine making is significantly different stylistically from his own label Fidelitas. Anelare’s wines are small production and premium and we were spoiled with Carmenere, Syrah, Cab and Merlot.

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