We farm these vineyards to exacting standards, practicing sustainable viticulture methods exclusively, in order to produce site-specific wines. The fruit is hand-picked and hand-sorted in the vineyards. A small portion of the best grapes are set aside to make Corliss wines. The remaining fruit is sold to a select group of award-winning Washington wineries.
Our first Red Mountain vineyard, purchased in 2007, was 33 acres originally planted in 1989 to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It is located on Sunset Road – a Red Mountain sweet spot that we refer to as ‘the tenderloin’. The fruit from this site has historically produced some of the finest wines from Washington State.
In 2009, we acquired another 139 acres across from the original site. We spent more than a year planning and laying out the vineyard, doing soil mapping (the site is laden with basalt and alluvium deposits which warm the roots), and getting ready to plant. The first vines went in on southwest slopes, with rows oriented to shade the fruit from too much sun, at elevations climbing to 1,500 feet.
The rows were angled to allow proper airflow, preventing cold air from pooling (a frost hazard) when the temperature drops. We planted 56 acres, predominately to Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot), with smaller amounts of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. Because of the rather steep topography, we call it ‘The Canyons’.
Our third vineyard parcel, acquired in 2012, is 174 acres adjacent to The Canyons. It is one of the founding vineyards on Red Mountain, with plantings of rarely-seen Nebbiolo, as well as 30-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon. Numerous other red and white varieties are also in the ground, and being evaluated for quality and health.
Blackrock Vineyard is a stone’s throw from Red Mountain, on the eastern edge of the Yakima Valley AVA. There are 50 acres planted from 1998 to the present time. It’s one of those sites that seems able to perform brilliantly across a wide spectrum of grapes, including Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot), Rhône varietals (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Counoise), and Mediterranean varietals (Dolcetto and Barbera from Italy, Tempranillo from Spain). Working with so many unusual varietals at this vineyard is a gives us a wealth of opportunity. As with our Red Mountain sites, Blackrock was planted on very steep slopes, is sustainably farmed, and offers a range of soils. Here the climate is more temperate, with average temperatures 5 to 10 degrees cooler than nearby Red Mountain.