The Washington wines of the Rattlesnake Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA) include big Cabernet Sauvignon and sweet Riesling wines, but that’s not all. You’ll also find Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Semillon, Viognier and many more. Washington’s ninth federally approved AVA, Rattlesnake Hills is encompassed completely by the Yakima Valley AVA, which is itself encompassed by the Columbia Valley AVA. Twenty wineries and 29 vineyards make their home in this Washington AVA, which was approved in 2006. To learn more about this Washington wine regions, see below.
History. The Rattlesnake Hills AVA consists of almost 70,000 acres, 1,500 of which are vineyards. The first commercial vineyards (The Morrison Vineyards) in this Washington wine region were planted in the 1960s, with more following in the 1970s and 1980s (the Hyatt Vineyard, Whisky Canyon, Outlook Vineyard, and the Portteus Vineyard.)
Climate and Soil. The Washington climate consists of warm days and cool evenings (with a temperature difference that can sometimes be as much as 40 degrees) in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, excellent for growing grapes. The hills themselves protect the Washington vineyards from extreme temperatures, and it has elevations from 700 to 3,000 feet (the highest point in the Yakima Valley AVA is contained within the Rattlesnake Hills AVA.) The soil is very fine, consisting mainly of silt and loam, and has neutral alkali and pH which is perfect for growing grapes.
Vineyards and Wineries. For just a few of the very fine Washington vineyards and wineries in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, along with some recommended wines, see below.
Bonair Winery. While most people think of reds when they think Washington wines, this Rattlesnake Hills winery’s first wines were whites, and one third of their wine production remains white. They have 35 acres of vineyards on their Rattlesnake Hills estate, and use their own grapes for all of their wines. Experience their 2005 Morrison Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, with aromas of raspberry and flavors of cassis and sweet oak. Their 2006 Rattlesnake Hills Chardonnay is also outstanding, a buttery white wine with aromas of lemon and pear. For more information on this Washington winery, click here.
Portteus Winery. The first eight acres of this Rattlesnake Hills winery’s vineyards were planted in 1982, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. This Washington winery produces some outstanding wines. Try their Cabernet Franc, with aromas of raspberry and cherry, and flavors that include caramel. Also be sure to sample their 2008 Chardonnay, a Burgundy style white that has aromas of apricot and honey, followed by flavors of apple and lime. For more information on this Washington winery, click here.
Hyatt Vineyards. Established in 1983, this Rattlesnake Hills AVA vineyard has over 180 acres of vines. They create Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay and other Washington wines, which consistently win awards each year. Try their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, a gorgeous, fruity wine with aromas of apple and pear. Their 2008 Pinot Gris is also excellent, with lemon aromas and flavors that include vanilla and almond. For more information on these Washington vineyards, click here.