Every winemaker knows that great wines are made in the vineyard and that he or she should do everything possible to work with the vineyard owners to produce premium grapes. Winemaker Holly Turner has been fortunate to have worked with fruit from nearly all parts of the vast Columbia Valley Appellation, thus developing a winemaking philosophy which is well suited to our area.
Each growing area in the Columbia Valley has its own unique characteristics that contribute to making the wines distinctive. The French use the term “terroir,” which refers to the factors at each growing site that contribute to making the wines unique. These factors include the soil type, irrigation management, canopy management, cropping levels, and overall climate. Occasionally, the grapes from an individual vineyard will be of such superb quality that they warrant being bottled separate from other vineyards to showcase the resulting wine.
Holly strongly believes that the blending of grapes from several different vineyards will most often result in the most superb wines possible. At Three Rivers, we utilize blending to maximize wine quality whenever warranted. Blending of wines is analogous to cooking with herbs. When used alone, herbs can enhance the flavor of most foods, but when several herbs are used in combination they can result in a superb culinary dish.
Three Rivers uses grapes from many different areas within the Columbia Valley Appellation, including high quality vineyards in both the Lower Columbia and Walla Walla Valley sub-Appellations. Several of these vineyards were recently planted and will not produce a usable crop for several years. We continue to source grapes from a wide array of vineyards in several diverse geographic zones.
Among the vineyards we use are the following: Sagemoor Farms
- When one thinks of the vineyards which have contributed to the success of the Washington wine industry, Sagemoor Farms is on everyone’s list. Having grown vinifera grapes for many years, this vineyard has contributed to many wines, some of which have received worldwide acclaim. Three Rivers receives Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc from Sagemoor. Martinez Vineyard
- Located in the Alderdale growing area of the Lower Columbia Valley, this vineyard specializes in growing Cabernet Sauvignon. Alderdale was originally planted to wine grapes by the Mercer Family in the early 1970’s and has contributed to many award-winning wines throughout its history. This particular vineyard was planted in 1981 on an eastern facing slope and is located next to the Champoux Vineyard. Champoux Vineyard
- One of the oldest vineyards in the Columbia Valley, this vineyard was originally planted by Don Mercer in the 1970’s. Managed by Paul Champoux since 1989, this vineyard is the source of grapes for some of Washington’s most widely acclaimed wineries. Three Rivers is fortunate to receive some outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon from this site, several tons of which will be from the vineyard’s oldest vines. Biscuit Ridge Vineyard
- Planted in the mid-1980’s by Jack and Helen Durham, this vineyard is currently owned and operated by Duane and Mary Wollmuth. The vineyard is located at the far northeastern corner of the Walla Walla Valley Appellation. Unlike most other vineyards in the valley which lie at an elevation of 1100 to 1300 feet and consist of red Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, Biscuit Ridge lies at roughly 1800 feet and is most conducive to cold hardy varietals such as Gewürztraminer and Cabernet Franc. Three Rivers receives Gewürztraminer from Biscuit Ridge. Alder Ridge Vineyard
- Planted above the Columbia River near the Alderdale area, this unique site shows great promise. Many of the blocks are planted on very extreme southern slopes in sandy loam soils. The Columbia River has a great influence on this vineyard site by moderating the extreme summer and winter temperatures. Alder Ridge is the source of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Ahler Vineyard
- Owned and operated by Three Rivers Winery partners Steve and Ann Ahler, this vineyard is located northeast of Walla Walla. The first crops of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah off of this vineyard were harvested from the 2001 vintage. The wine grapes from this site show great promise for quality. Boushey Vineyard
- Located north of Grandview in the heart of the Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard is owned and operated by well-respected winegrower Dick Boushey. Three Rivers Winery sources Syrah from this vineyard, and has made a vineyard designated Syrah from the inaugural vintage of 1999. Milbrandt Vineyards
- The Milbrandt Brother’s vineyards are located on the Wahluke Slope region of the Columbia Valley. Although the Wahluke Slope is not a recognized viticultural appellation, it has long been recognized as one of the premier wine grape growing regions within the Columbia Valley. Three Rivers Winery currently buys grapes from two of the Milbrandt Brothers Vineyards on the Wahluke Slope: Katherine Leone Vineyard and Sundance Vineyard. Katherine Leone Vineyard is a key source of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, while Sundance is a source of Syrah and Chardonnay.