Canoe Ridge opened shop in an historic engine house in Walla Walla, Washington in 1992. From the beginning, its focus has been red varietals handled in small lots. Winemaker and Napa transplant Bill Murray (no, not that Bill Murray), sources Bordeaux varieties directly from their Horse Heaven Hills vineyard and ferments by small vineyard parcel. Predominantly French oak barrels are used to complement the fine tannins from the vineyard’s beautiful ripe fruit.
The bone-dry deserts, breezes off the Columbia River, and long sunny days make the Horse Heaven Hills AVA perfect for growing grapes. Fine tannins and deep, concentrated fruit flavours are characteristics that put the emerging region on the map. The Hills produce some of the most acclaimed wines in the Northwest. Covering some 570 000 acres, the Hills are centrally located along the southern border of Washington state. The winery’s Canoe Ridge vineyard, said to have been named by the Lewis and Clark expedition for its profile, is located on a slope above the river on sandy loam soils. Planted in 1989, the vineyard is seeing some of the advantages of mature vines (some over 25 years old), producing arguably the best Merlot in the best Merlot-producing region of the country.