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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 in Washington. The vineyard is located west and slightly south of Yakima and is famous for their 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, and features poor, rocky soils on the west side of this saddle, the source of our Sestina Bordeaux style Red Blend and Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wine. On the east facing slope, more clay is found in the soil, ideal for the Merlot they planted there, which lends important savory notes and core red fruit flavors to our Sestina Left Bank Bordeaux-style red wine blend. Another section of the vineyard, named Les Vignes de Marcoux, lies about a mile west of 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 3 different varieties from him, which go into making 3 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 Cote (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 composes one of our signature wines that we’ve been making since our very first vintage, the Arnaut. We also source Merlot from a part of his vineyard 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 our Oliane.
Sagemoor sits on a largely west facing slope just north of Pasco, right next to the Columbia River. Here, location is everything, and we’ve made every effort to lock up the best fruit that matches our style for our Sestina and Gravura Bordeaux-style red blends. 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.