Established in 1957 by Otis Harlan, Otis Vineyard is one of the most celebrated vineyards in Washington. Located in the Yakima Valley on the lower slopes of the Rattlesnake Hills, Otis
boasts the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon planting in the state. The vineyard contracts exclusively with Columbia Winery.
Columbia Winery's longstanding relationship with Ois Vineyard began in 1979, when the old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon formed the backbone of the
Millennium Cabernet. Winemaker David Lake first produced a single vineyarddesignated wine from Otis with the 1981 release of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Lake continues to create award-winning Otis Vineyard designated – Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay – both wines from the
highly acclaimed David Lake Signature
Deep ruby red color. Ripe black currant, blueberries and fine herb flavors. The palate
shows of ripe, sweet fruit and velvety tannins. Smooth and full-bodied with excellent lingering finish and elegance.
Columbia Winery was the first premium winery in Washington and the first in the state to produce vineyard-designate wines. Columbia Winery was founded in 1962 by ten friends, six of whom were University of Washington professors. Originally known as Associated Vintners, the group was united in the belief that vines could survive the harsh Washington winters and that fine wine could be made in Washington state.
Having worked alongside founding winemaker and Master of Wine, David Lake, Kerry Norton now oversees the Columbia Winery winemaking, handcrafting Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah sourced from the Columbia and Yakima Valleys.
View all Columbia Winery Wines
Washington's first appellation, Yakima Valley has over one third of the state's vineyards. The rolling foothills of the Cascades give the vines a good sun angle, so grapes are well-ripened come harvest time. Merlot dominates the plantings here, creating elegant wines with complex fruit, herbs & structure. Syrah continues to grow in popularity, creating blanced wines with spicy black fruit.
A few smaller, but notable appellations that lie within or just outside of Yakima Valley include:
Rattlesnake Hills, which gained AVA status in 2006, lies in the north with 17 wineries. Horse Heaven Hills, another recent sub-appellation hugs the south end of Yakima and is known for its outstanding vineyard sites that create incredible and collectible red wines. Red Mountain, known for its intense and delicious reds, is located on the eastern side of Yakima Valley.
Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.