Located on the southwest corner of Red Mountain is Terra Blanca’s 300-acre estate. A combination of slope, soil composition and climate make our vineyard very special. There are currently over 115 acres planted.
Soil Composition of our Red Mountain Estate Vineyard:
The soil of the Terra Blanca estate is composed of silty fine sands and fine, sandy silt loams with interbeds of carbonate-coated gravels, cobbles and boulders. Silt, sand and loam hold very little water and when combined with drip irrigation allow for very tight moisture control. Calcium carbonate also adds to the flavor and texture of the wines, imparting silky chalk and earthy notes.
The vineyard is planted in small blocks (block=about 5 acres) that follow the topography and soil types allowing for consistent management of the vines in the blocks. Careful micromanagement of the vineyard by an experienced and highly dedicated staff allows the vines to perform at their optimum level, producing the best fruit.
Terra Blanca has always been very research-oriented to find the very best fit of varietal and clone to the site.
Grapes Grown on our Estate
From the northwest of Italy, Keith will make a single varietal wine from Barbera.
•High acid low tannin
•Sour cherry and savory notes
Originally from the eponymous Maconnais village, this white grape reflects the climate wherever it's planted in unique ways.
Non-aromatic grape; that means that qualities of the vineyard and the winemaking choices Keith will have profound, unique affects on the wine.
For example, our Arch Terrace Chardonnay undergoes a limited amount of “malolactic fermentation” or a second fermentation that adds butter and creamy qualities to the wine, whereas our Jim's Chardonnay undergoes a complete second fermentation.
Another winemaking choice is oak. The Arch Terrace Chardonnay is aged for a short time in neutral French oak, our Block 5 spends up to 16 months [X months sur lie (or lying on its lees, another word for the spent yeast) in new French oak. The latter adds toasty vanilla and flinty minerality.
Red Mountain Chardonnays are tropical with citrus and pineapple flavors. They can be very full bodied.
Perfume and finesse are the hallmarks of our estate Cabernet Franc.
• Flowers early, ripens early
• Fragrant, juicy light tannin wines
• Ages well
• We use Cabernet Franc for blending in ONYX, however Keith made his first 100% variety in 2008 and released in 2011. It sold out within six months of release.
The grape people tend to associate with red wine. Its aromas reflect the place in which it is grown making it a great wine to learn about Red Mountain’s unique properties. In particular, it can be more cherry on warm Red Mountain, although the classic blackcurrant and blackberries are there too. There is rarely ever a smell of green pepper because grapes ripen so well.
• Buds late, so often protected again an unexpected frosts—a rarity on warm Red Mountain, but a significant benefit in a colder vintage such as 2010 and 2011.
• Grape clusters are loose with thick skins, high skin to pulp ration
• Insect and fungus resistant
• Full bodies, high acid, tannic wines that age well
Also known as Cinsaut, this grape was brought in from the Rhone region. Believe it or not, it is the fourth most-planted grape in France and has a sure place in our vineyards for years to come. Cinsaut has a very high heat tolerance, which makes it ideal for Red Mountain, and is used in our Rhone blend, Galet.
• Very dark skinned berry
• Drought resistant
• Strawberry, red cherry, and spice aromas
• Soft tannins and low acidity
A Rhone varietal, Counoise is not widely planted today. Predominantly used as a blending grape for its acidity and lightness, Counoise has the distinction of being a varietal used in Chateauneuf du Pape wines. The most common region to find a single-varietal bottle of Counoise is the West Coast United States, where it is gaining notoriety as more than just a blending grape.
• Strawberry, ainse, and blueberry palate
• High and bright acidity
• Subtle spiciness with earthy aromas
• Soft tannins
• Tannin with low acidity
• Damson plum
• Best to drink in its youth
• Seldom aged in oak
Notable for being the backbone of many Chateauneuf du Pape and Cotes du Rhone blends, Grenache is one of the most widely planted and used varietals in the world. Warm, arid climates are best for this varietal since it needs a long growing season to fully ripen and is prone to rot in wet environments. Though it has become popular as a single varietal, Grenache is used to make our Rhone blend, the Galet.
• Thin-skinned grape
• Vibrant fruitiness and black pepper notes
• Fleshy and full mouthfeel
• Tendency to "brick" early
A grape by any other name. Variously called Auxerrois, Cot or Malbeck, it is normally a part of Bordeaux blends.
• Our Red Mountain Malbecs are fruit-forward, medium tannic wines
• White pepper on the finish.
• Referred to in house as “pizza wine” because it actually goes really well with pizza. And barbeque. And just about anything else we tend to eat on the weekends.
Of the three Rhone varietal cousins, Marsanne is the least common and least known. It is relatively new to the single-varietal scene and has been historically blended in Roussanne and Viognier. Though sometimes co-fermented with Syrah, Marsanne has shown beautifully where it is planted amidst its cousins and neighboring Chardonnay on the "just right" northern slope at the top of our estate.
• Hearty vine but limited temperature tolerance
• Rich, earthy mouthfeel
• Aromas of wildflowers, nuts and citrus
• Full palate of melons, almonds and pear
Ignore what you may have heard about Merlot in the movie “Sideways” when you think about Red Mountain Merlot. In the movie, they make fun of it because for a while, many unremarkable Merlots were created in places like California.
• From our estate, Merlot is a heady drink of plum, cherry and velvet tannins.
• In Bordeaux, it forms the basis for world class St Emilion and Pomerol wines.
• Often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon
• Can be harvested early for greater acid and brighter fruit flavors (as in our Arch Terrace Merlot) or harvested a bit later for the deep plummy flavors and full-bodied style of our Signature Series Merlot.
Originally a Spanish grape by the name of mataro, Mourvedre grew popular in southern France for its hearty vine strength and high levels of tannin. It was almost lost at the turn of the 20th century when phylloxera devastated France but has since made it resurgence in Spain, Australia, and the United States, where it is often used in Rhone-style blends. Our estate's wind-blown slopes are the perfect location for this late-ripening, tightly clustered grape.
• Dark, thick-skinned berry.
• "Gamey" and earthy palate of dark fruits
• Highly tannic
• Aromas of earth, pepper, and pomegranate.
At home in Northwest Italy, but on our estate it nestles happily on the sunny slope to the left of the driveway.
• Late ripening
• Thin skinned, so light colored wines
• Susceptible to disease
• Low yield
• Red fruit, rose licorice, high acid, high tannin
• Ages brilliantly
• We don’t make it often, but look for Altimissimo. Nebbiolo is blended with our Cabernet Sauvignon for an incredibly gorgeous blend.
A little grape with a big impact.
• Needs very hot weather in order to fully ripen
• Deep color, tannic wine
• Used in a blend to add tannin and color, which is why it features in ONYX
• A fractional amount can completely alter a wine. Don’t believe it? Compare the ’07 and ’06 ONYX.
The wild child of the Rhone white, Roussanne is a hard-to-predict varietal and requires careful vineyard management to produce high-quality fruit. It is most commonly blended with Marsanne and Viognier and is rarely seen as a single varietal. Grown on our Red Mountain estate, Roussanne has a desirable bracing acidity and a fruit salad profile that balances its richness.
• Late-ripening fruit
• Stone fruit (peach, nectarine, etc.), honey and pear profile.
• Floral and aromatic nose
• Sometimes aged in oak
We grow this to create our version of the Super Tuscan, Pantheon.
• High in acid and tannin
• Medium alcohol
• Fruit runs from earthy to blueberry to sour cherry
• Affinity for oak
What’s the difference between Syrah and Shiraz? -- Nothing, really, although there is a thought that wines labeled as Syrah are more elegant in style, while Shiraz indicates a fruitier, full body and higher alcohol wine.
We have three different clones, or types, of this grape: Hermitage, Cote Rotie (rare for Washington state) and the Phelps clone (common in Washington state). In France, this grape is most associated with the Rhone region and the wines of Hermitage.
• Deep in colors
• Black fruit (blackberry), spice, pepper
• In warm climates, full bodied with soft tannins, earthy, leather, spice
• Ages well
Producing relatively small crop sizes, Viognier is often seen as a stingy vine to cultivate, but a winemaker who carefully tends this varietal can reap the benefits in the form of a rich, velvety, and aromatic wine. Though it is often used co-fermented with Syrah, Viognier has firmly established itself in our vineyards for its complexity and power as a dry white. Look for it in our Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne blend, "VRM".
• Late-ripening fruit
• Intense floral nose
• Palate of tropical fruits with hints of anise and mint
• Low acidity and high sugar content (warm climates)