Take a tour through one of Washington State's first vineyards

See one of the sources that make Washington wines so good.

A lot has happened in the Washington wine world since farmer Mike Sauer first planted grapes here at Red Willow Vineyards back in 1971.

"When I started there were only 6 wineries in the state at the time and less than a 1000 acres. I think today there's over 800 wineries and 50 thousand acres of wine grapes" Sauer Said.

Washington State is home to 13 different grape growing regions. On Sauer's vineyard just south on Yakima, it's easier to say what he doesn't grow, than what he does.

"I'm not even sure how many varieties we got. I often say we don't have Chandon Blanc and we don't have Zinfandel."

Sauer doesn't care for all the acres of grapes by himself. Around here, working the land is a family affair.

"We have a very much generational viewpoint of the vineyard," Said Mike. "We have 3 boys involved with me farming Red Willow Vineyard."

The vineyard provides grapes for 15 Washington wineries, including Mark Ryan. They've been getting their grapes from here for nearly a decade.

"The heat is right. The temperatures are great. The farming is impeccable which is a recipe for high-quality wines." Said winemaker Mark McNeilly, owner of Mark Ryan Winery.

It's close farmer-winemaker relationships like this that have helped make Washington State the second largest producer of wine in the U.S..

"We are in a very golden age of wine making right now," Said Sauer. "People are consuming it. They're paying money for it."

McNeilly adds, "Washington State is at an all-time high for quality. We're getting a lot of attention out there. People are actually looking for Washington wines around the country."

From the grapes to the glass, Sauer's humble about Red Willow Vineyard's contribution to Washington's great wine reputation. But just like any good farmer, he and his sons are always thinking about next year.

"I think you never take your reputation for granted. You keep working on it all the time." Said Sauer.

August is Washington Wine Month. You can find out more about this and other events here.



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