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Production: 17,000 cases (1996); 27,000 case capacity
Vineyards: 90 acres established in 1989 in the Columbia Valley appellation on Highway 14 on the Columbia River; 60 miles south of Kennewick, 8 miles west of Paterson; 75 miles west of Walla Walla; 39 acres Merlot, 29 acres Chardonnay, 32 acres Cabernet Sauvignon; northeast slope on sandy loam at 500-775 feet elevation, receiving 5-6" rainfall annually
Distribution: worldwide by The Chalone Wine Group
According to folklore, the Canoe Ridge was named by two famous explorers, Meriweather Lewis and William Clark. As they journeyed through the region and down the Columbia River, these two adventurers thought the giant ridge above the river looked like an overturned canoe. Today, with a little imagination, one can almost see the canoe in the ridge with its 910 foot peak sloping gently five miles to the east and west. This being the origin of our name, is just the beginning of our story...
One day in 1982, Phil Woodward, President and CEO of the Chalone Wine Group, was in Seattle and tasted a Chardonnay that was said to be one of Washington's best. Impressed by the quality of the wine, and his interest piqued by the name "Woodward Canyon". He canceled his flight home, rented a car and set out to find the maker of this fine Chardonnay. The journey led him to the very southeast corner of Washington State and the town of Lowden, home of Rick Small and Woodward Canyon Winery. This was the beginning of a friendship between the Chalone Wine Group, Rick Small, and a group of Washington wine enthusiasts who together planted the first vines on the Canoe Ridge in 1989.
The site was selected because of its distinctive conditions for growing excellent Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Due to its location and proximity to the Columbia River, our vineyard experiences unique ripening patterns and temperatures important to us throughout the year. Spring temperatures are generally warmer resulting in an earlier bud break. Daytime temperatures are warm but are balanced by cool nighttime temperatures. These two characteristics provide us with a longer growing season during normal years, and a long enough growing season during cool years, to ripen the fruit to full maturity. To date, winter injury has been minimal due to these warmer temperatures compared to other viticultural areas in the state. Currently, we are in different stages of experimentation to fine tune our viticultural practices. Our ultimate goal is to grow the very best, balanced, and flavorful fruit we can, because this is where any great wine must begin.
In preparation for the harvest of 1994, we went in search of a
location for the new winery. Walla Walla proved to be the ideal
location, as it was home for most of the vineyard shareholders and had
a growing wine community. In July of 1994, we leased the historic
Walla Walla Engine House and began the reformation of the ancient
building. Built in 1905 and since restored, the building was used as
the garage and maintenance facility for a streetcar and interurban
train system that began operating in 1906 and operated until the early
1980's. Its brick walls and 18' ceilings now provide us the ideal
environment to produce and age our wines. May of 1995 saw the first
wines released from Canoe Ridge Vineyard, our 1993 Merlot, 1993 Red
Table Wine, and 1994 Chardonnay. The fall of 1996 marked the first
release of two more wines, our 1995 Reserve Chardonnay and 1994
The Wines: (Spring 1996)
Kevin Mott 2002-present
John C. Abbott 1993-2002
Of special note:
In the past year (1996), the staff of Canoe Ridge (or their wines) have been to every state, four countries, and the White House. They have had a successful year and are growing fast: they've added new tanks, barrels, equipment, and staff; installed a state of the art bottling line; planted more grapes; built a tipi; put in flower beds; entertained many guests; replaced 32 windows in the winery; refinished the tasting room counter top; successfully transported a tank across the Snake River bridge with only two inches to spare; and, of course, made some wine!
Canoe Ridge Vineyard has initiated the process to designate the Canoe Ridge as an "American viticultural area" (separate appellation). It can be a long process, but well worth it, because it recognizes the region's own microclimate and unique growing conditions.
Canoe Ridge Vineyard began its special bottle project with its first vintage, and continues it each year. Different artists, styles, sizes, and mediums are selected each year to make an exceptional bottle worthy of the finest cellar, or save it for a very special occasion. If you're interested in starting the collection from the beginning, a few of last year's three magnum etched commemorative series bottles are still available from our library. This year, Oregon artist Kerrie Abbott created a wood block called "Celebration" and has hand printed each glorious label. One special barrel of 1994 Merlot was set aside for this limited bottling and the result is magnificent, housed in a lovely black walnut box. Signed and numbered edition of 44; five liter bottle with box $420.00.
Canoe Ridge Vineyard keeps a library of their wines so they can be followed as they age. Periodically, they taste through past vintages and update their tasting notes. They would be pleased to share them with you, on both past and present vintages, just call.
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