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The Stephenson/Sauer family have been farming at Red Willow since the 1920s and first planted wine grapes in 1973. Patriarch Mike Sauer is one of the true pioneers of the Washington wine industry and worked with Walter Clore to plant some of the first Syrah vines in the state. The vineyard is located west and slightly south of Yakima and is famous for its iconic stone chapel, built by the family on a peak in the vineyard. The part of the vineyard where we source our fruit is shaped like a saddle, which allows for many different vineyard aspects and elevations. Most of the vineyard lies above the Missoula flood plain. On the west side of the saddle, the soil is poor and rocky, and it is from here we source Cabernet Sauvignon for Sestina and our 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. On the east-facing slope, more clay is found in the soil, ideal for the Merlot planted there, which lends important savory notes and core red fruit flavors to Sestina. Another section of the vineyard, named Les Vignes de Marcoux, lies about one mile west from the original site and features a deeper, sandier soil, perfect for our Oliane Sauvignon Blanc.
Dick Boushey was the very first grower with whom we partnered and remains a vital key to Avennia’s voice. We source three different varieties from him, which go into three of our flagship wines. He is best known for his Yakima Valley Syrah and Avennia is the only winery that uses both of his oldest blocks of this coveted fruit. The older, called Grand Côte (meaning "great hillside”), produces wine that is piercingly pure and focused, with meaty and mineral aromas backing up its deep blackberry and damson plum fruit flavors. Wines from the second block, Factory Road, show richer body and feature savory cured meat notes, along with orange peel, and a distinct iron note. The combination of these two Syrah blocks makes up Arnaut, a wine we have made since our first vintage, 2010. We also source Merlot from a part of his vineyard that is planted on fractured basalt. The result is a beautifully expressive wine that is medium garnet in color, with ethereal notes of red fruits, crushed white stone, flowers, and a hint of mint which is the backbone of our Right Bank Bordeaux-style red blend, Valery. Dick’s Sauvignon Blanc is planted on a nearby south facing slope. This rich, citrus and peach-tinged wine matches perfectly with the Red Willow block to form Oliane.
Sagemoor sits on a largely west-facing slope just north of Pasco, right next to the Columbia River. Sagemoor, Bacchus, and Dionysus vineyards are part of one of Washington's newest AVAs - White Bluffs AVA. Here, location is everything, and we’ve made every effort to lock up the best fruit that matches our style for Sestina and Gravura. The newer Dionysus Cabernet Sauvignon block is planted on a gently west-facing slope near the river. These old vines, planted in 1973, provide a great expression of complexity, including blackberry and cassis fruit, some earthy tones, and an unmistakable bay leaf note that sets it apart. The nearby Bacchus block, planted in 1972 to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, is startlingly different, at a higher elevation, up on a weather-exposed promontory. The fruit from here is very elegant, often almost medium-bodied, but beautifully nuanced and complex. Black cherry and red currant form the backbone, but there is a wide array of savory complexities, including fresh loam, saddle leather, fresh tobacco, mountain flowers, and a sweet minerality.