Thursday, December 18, 2014

World's Most Amazing Vineyards #2 Red Willow

 With its iconic hilltop stone chapel, Red Willow Vineyard is probably the most recognizable farm of wine grape vines in Washington state. The small rock monument can be seen for miles across the flat Yakima Valley

A stone chapel sits above the Syrah vines at Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima AVA of Washington state.

Inspired by a trip to Italy, along with the death of his longtime friend Monsignor Mulcahy, Mike Sauer had a stone chapel built atop the highest hill on the family farm to honor the memory of the Monsignor. The hilltop chapel, built with stones from the farm, took three years to complete.

Located in the far western end of the Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in Washington state.

The history of Red Willow started when irrigation canals were dug throughout Yakima Valley in the mid 1920s, and settlers flocked to the sage-covered land to farm. Included in this first wave of settlers was Clyde Stephenson, the first generation to farm the land which became Red Willow.

The first vineyard, planted in 1971, was 30 acres planted with Concord vines. The few token rows of wine grapes, Chenin Blanc and Semillon, did not survive on the rich soil where the Concords were planted. However, the Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in 1973, are still in production today.

Red Willow Vineyard is part of the 4th generation Stephenson family farm that dates back to the 1920's.
Mike Sauer sits on his get-around-the-farm 4-wheeler at the base of the hill with the iconic stone chapel.
Third generation farmer, Mike Sauer, provides wine grapes for many of the most recognizable winemakers in Oregon and Washington.

All images copyright ©Janis Miglavs 2014

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