In an attempt to get away from the dense fog and clouds dominating the Walla Walla Valley my partner in wine and I spent a slow winter day at Red Mountain; it was cloudy and damp there too, but not foggy!
Hightower Cellars is just off of the very far end of the road most Red Mountain wineries is on, Sunset Road. The converted barn that is now their wine production space has their tasting room attached. We parked and made our way to the door where we were greeted by
Riley, the yellow lab that is currently top dog at this winery, was quite friendly and happy to greet visitors before being called away to be with his people, the couple that owns the winery, Tim and Kelly Hightower. We saw them, but they were apparently on their way out as they didn’t come into the tasting room during our visit.
From 1997 when they produced 220 cases of wine, before they bought this property, to their present production of 1200 cases there have been changes in fruit sourcing as their estate vineyard was planted in 2005.
Out of Line Vineyard, their estate vineyard, is just beyond the tasting room and on a nicer day must be a great place to stroll; it is planted to the Bordeaux varietals (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot). There are two other Red Mountain vineyards contributing similar varieties, Artz and E&E Shaw and additional fruit from Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla’s Pepper Bridge Vineyard.
Jan, pouring our wines, has been helping the Hightowers’ since their tasting room opened in 2008. It was fun to chat with her about each of the wines being tasted as well as tidbits of trivia about the dogs and the materials the tasting room is made from.
The namesake of the rose’ and the Cab Sauv, Murray, was the first of the yellow labs for the Hightowers’. He has been succeeded by other yellow labs, although I didn’t ask if they are all related or not. Riley, our greeter, has his own label now. This is the first release of
their Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Franc with a different label, the sign of pi (∏) inside a circle representing “The Eternal Constant, The Love of a Dog”. Despite this wine not being tasted that day we brought a bottle home with us as that is a grape we really like.
The wines we tried, from the 2013 Rose’ to the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, were easy drinking, food-friendly wines. We are looking forward to tasting the Cabernet Franc in the coming weeks.