The Red Mountain vineyard has been sold, but with grower Dick Boushey taking over, the high level of quality won’t suffer.
ARGUABLY WASHINGTON’S most famous vines are at Klipsun Vineyards on Red Mountain.
Established 33 years ago, it is one of the oldest vineyards in the state. In spring, it was sold to a Chicago-based company — Terlato Vineyards — that owns several California wine properties, including Napa Valley’s Chimney Rock Winery.
Patricia Gelles and her husband, David, helped plant Kiona Vineyards in 1975, the first vineyard on Red Mountain and a benchland in the eastern end of the Yakima Valley. They were early investors of Ciel du Cheval, planted a few years later by Jim Holmes.
Three to try
Here are three Washington wines made using Klipsun Vineyards grapes:
Maryhill Winery 2013 Klipsun Vineyards syrah, Red Mountain, $40: Aromas of plum, chocolate and molasses, followed by flavors of blackberry, blueberry and milk chocolate in the finish.
Brian Carter Cellars 2012 Solesce, Columbia Valley, $65: This classic Bordeaux-style blend leads with 56 percent cab from Klipsun, which contributes notes of sage, plum and blackberry with firm tannins. A great wine from this Woodinville winery.
DeLille Cellars 2014 Four Flags cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $48: A blend of cab from four Red Mountain vineyards, including Klipsun. It’s a remarkable red that includes depth of fruit, flavor and structure. It’s among the best this Woodinville winery produces, and that is saying a lot.
Patricia recalls the day Holmes phoned her and told her the Klipsun land was for sale — a site that Napa Valley winemaker André Tchelistcheff said was the best cab land on Red Mountain. The Gelleses bought 40 acres and began planting in 1984. That first year, they planted cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. Today, Klipsun has expanded to 120 acres planted to seven grape varieties that are sold to 30 wineries across the Northwest.
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Its reputation is for sturdy, ripe reds with tannins that provide a structure strong enough to help the resulting wine stand up for decades. It can be said that Washington’s reputation for cab is partly built on Klipsun’s ability to ripen world-class grapes on the sun-drenched hills above the Yakima River.
Klipsun, a Chinook word for beautiful sunset, is perfectly named. Red Mountain is the warmest location in the Columbia Valley, and the vineyard is on a west-facing slope, where it takes full advantage of summer and fall’s abundantly warm weather and perpetually blue skies. All factors combine to help Klipsun deliver perfectly ripened grapes, vintage after vintage.
With the change in ownership, grower Dick Boushey will take over managing Klipsun. Boushey, who planted his own vineyard in Grandview about the same time as Klipsun, already manages several top vineyards on Red Mountain, including Col Solare, Upchurch and others. Klipsun’s old vines are in good hands.
John Terlato, chairman of Klipsun’s new owner, Terlato Vineyards, says he plans to continue selling grapes to Klipsun’s customers, although he is holding back a little to create a label with Woodinville’s Brian Carter, a longtime Klipsun customer. He has some 2016 wine for Terlato in the barrel. No word on a release date.