Hedges Family Estate Fume - Chardonnay 1999
It was 1986 when Washington native Tom Hedges found his first employment in the wine industry marketing American wines in Taiwan. From that humble beginning, Hedges Cellars, then a "virtual" winery, found its first customer: the government of Sweden. Tom and his wife Anne-Marie marketed their Cabernet/Merlot blend to foreign buyers exclusively for two years before going domestic and opening up North American distribution. Still without their own winery, they took a chance buying acreage on an obscure little hill called Red Mountain.
The Hedges have concentrated their efforts on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the concept of terroir since their first vintage in 1987. With Anne-Marie Hedges' roots and childhood in the Champagne region of France, it was only natural that a French-style chateau would be built on the slopes of Red Mountain amongst their vines.
Their daughter, Sarah Hedges-Goedhart, is the head winemaker with their son Christophe Hedges being the General Manager. Hedges Cellars transitioned to Hedges Family Estate, and farming practices became more focused towards being organic, vegan, and some of our vineyards are being certified Demeter. Our future direction is clear: we will continue to work as a family to unite farming, winemaking, and the promotion of our wines and the Red Mountain AVA.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.