SeVein could become the Northwest’s next Red Mountain. Wineries from Washington and Oregon are buying land and planting grapes in the development, where land is going fast.
PERHAPS THE MOST fascinating and important wine project going on anywhere in the Pacific Northwest is SeVein, a vineyard development in the southern Walla Walla Valley.
SeVein already has a world-class reputation for its established vineyards, including Seven Hills, Ferguson, Summit View and Serra Pedace, and some of the Northwest’s wine luminaries are quickly buying and planting there.
The anchor vineyard is famed Seven Hills, which was planted in the early 1990s. It is owned by Walla Walla Valley wine royalty: Norm McKibben (Pepper Bridge), Gary Figgins (Leonetti) and Marty Clubb (L’Ecole No. 41).
Three from SeVein
Barrister Winery 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $37: This Spokane producer loves grapes from SeVein, and this is a delicious example that’s available only at the winery (509-465-3591). Aromas and flavors of plum, black currant and mint are backed by focused tannins that lead to a long finish.
L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Ferguson, Walla Walla Valley, $64: This cabernet sauvignon-leading blend uses grapes from the estate Ferguson Vineyard. Each vintage has earned international acclaim. Aromas of warm cocoa, brown spice and plum lead to elegant flavors of black olive, black currant and dried herbs. It’s all but sold out at the winery but should still be in fine wine shops.
College Cellars 2014 Summit View Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $35: A succulent and rich red made by the faculty and students at Walla Walla Community College, this is loaded with aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, black currant and mild oak, all backed by luscious tannins. This is a new release and can be purchased from the winery (509-524-5170).
(There are two Seven Hills Vineyards; “Seven Hills West” was planted in the early 1980s. This original Seven Hills is under different ownership and is not part of SeVein.)
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The former wheatland surrounding Seven Hills was purchased in 2004, and the group has been selling parcels — including water rights — since.
Clubb purchased a 42-acre lot and planted 18 acres to Bordeaux varieties. He named the vineyard Ferguson after his in-laws, Baker and Jean Ferguson, who founded L’Ecole in 1983. In 2014, Clubb’s first vintage of Ferguson, a cabernet sauvignon-based blend from the young vineyard, was rated the top Bordeaux-style wine in the world at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards. It beat out top red wines from Napa Valley to Bordeaux.
SeVein is on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley, and it is high in elevation, which protects it from frosts and winter freezes.
Today, wineries such as Betz, Siren Song, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Doubleback and JM Cellars have bought into SeVein’s 2,700 acres. More than 450 acres of the roughly 1,500 acres has been planted, and less than half of the land is still available. I expect SeVein properties to be sold out in the next couple of years and ultimately be considered among the best land in our region.