This vintage marks the beginning of a unique style for Sagelands Vineyard Merlot. In 1999 we took some big steps in new directions both in the vineyard and in the winery. The vineyards benefited from greater attention to those details that create great wines. We aggressively thinned unnecessary shoots and removed grape clusters to concentrate the grapevine's energy into the remaining grape berries. Letting the grapes hang on the vines longer than had been done in the past allowed them to achieve maximum color, ripeness, and intensity of flavor.
In the winery, new equipment allowed us to gently remove the stems without damaging the fruit. We left the grape berries whole to maximize the raspberry fruit character typical of Merlot from the Columbia Valley. The grapes were "cold soaked" in their own juice for 2–3 days to bring out the brilliant purple color and wonderful blackberry fruit aroma. Fermentation at 88–92 degrees F brought out more intensity of flavor and color. Aging the wine for 12–14 months in oak barrels contributed rich chocolate and toasty-smoke aromas and flavors.
The wine grapes used to make Sagelands Vineyard wines are grown in four distinctive areas we call the "Four Corners" of the Columbia Valley. Each area contributes its own special character that, when blended together, creates wines of great complexity and richness.This vintage is a blend of fruit from the prime western and eastern ends of the Yakima Valley AVA; the Merlot came from Spring Creek Vineyard (54 percent), Red Willow Vineyard (29 percent) and the Sagelands Estate Vineyard (10 percent). The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet
Franc were also from the Red Willow Vineyard.
Some of my favorite foods with this wine are grilled pork tenderloin, baked salmon, smoked meats, and morel mushrooms sautéed in olive oil spooned over pasta.
Kevin Mott, Winemaker