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Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009

Washington: Red Mountain

Washington's smallest appellation is a ridge in the eastern Yakima Valley. It is 4,040 acres in size with about 800 acres of mostly red wine grapes planted. It was established in 2001.

Notable Red Mountain vineyards

Ciel du Cheval: Jim Holmes owns and operates Red Mountain's top vineyard. Planted in 1975, Ciel du Cheval is 120 acres and includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. Holmes sells his grapes to more than 20 wineries and has partnered with Quilceda Creek and DeLille Cellars to have their own adjacent vineyards. Ciel du Cheval, in typically the warmest area of Washington, receives nearly 3,300 heat units annually.

Klipsun Vineyard: David and Patricia Gelles purchased the land near Kiona Vineyards Winery in 1982 and planted Klipsun (a Native American word for "beautiful sunset") a year later. Now at 120 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and a bit of Nebbiolo, Klipsun is one of the Northwest's most sought-after vineyards, annually selling to more than 30 wineries. Patricia Gelles is the driving force behind Klipsun. Grapes from this vineyard often fetch 30 percent higher prices than those from other vineyards around the state, and wines made from Klipsun fruit is some of the most robust around, often taking years for its tannins to settle down.