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Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009

Washington: Yakima Valley

The Northwest's oldest appellation (established in 1983) stretches from Wapato in the west to Benton City in the east and includes Red Mountain and Rattlesnake Hills. The Yakima Valley has about 11,000 acres of wine grapes.

Notable Yakima Valley vineyards

Boushey Vineyard: Dick Boushey grows the Yakima Valley’s most sought-after grapes. When Boushey started his vineyard near the town of Grandview in 1980, he focused on red grapes, even though the prevailing interest at the time was in white varieties such as Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer. "At first, I had a hard time selling because nobody was making Merlot," he said. Today, his 60-acre vineyard is highly allocated to more than 20 wineries. Most prized is his Syrah, which he first planted in 1994. Because the Yakima Valley is cooler than Red Mountain to the east and Wahluke Slope to the north, Boushey is able to let his grapes hang a few weeks longer, accumulating complex flavors without too much ripeness. Boushey Vineyard usually receives about 2,600 heat units annually.