Several Washington wineries and vineyards are asking the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to designate a new appellation in the eastern portion of the state. The proposed American Viticultural Area is called Red Mountain.
Red Mountain is also the name of an actual mountain in eastern Washington, where, in the springtime, the cheatgrass growing on the slopes turns reddish. The appellation would cover 3,500 acres on the southwest face of Red Mountain, of which 650 acres are presently being used for grapegrowing.
"Just about all of the important Washington wineries use Red Mountain grapes already," said Lorne Jacobson, sales and marketing director for Hedges Cellars, which is spearheading the movement for the proposed AVA. "We are codifying an exceptional grape area."
Five other wineries have joined Hedges in petitioning the ATF: Blackwood Canyon, Kiona, Sand Hill, Seth Ryan and Terra Blanca. They expect the designation to be approved sometime in June.
The proposed Red Mountain appellation is in an arid desert region, west of the Yakima and Columbia rivers, that receives an average of five inches of rain per year. The area is characterized by daytime temperatures of 90 degrees F, which help the grapes to ripen early in the year. At night, the temperature can drop below 50 degrees F.
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