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Viticulturist: Fred Artz
Production: 65,000 cases/year
Vineyards: 40 acres on Red Mountain, 20 cab 20 merlot; all wines Columbia Valley Appellation
Hedges Cellars was originally started as an export broker of California and Washington State wines for the Taiwanese market in 1986 by Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges. In 1988, they reached an agreement with a Swedish importer to sell 1987 vintage Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as a "Negociant" (a blender of purchased bulk wines). The Hedges name was used upon the suggestion of the label designer only after the owners had exhausted other, more generic possibilities for a brand. The wine was a success in Sweden, with 4,000 cases sold, and the Swedes promptly reordered 12,000 cases!
Since then, Hedges has successfully branched out into other export markets. In 1990 they took on a Swedish investment firm as minority shareholders, and introduced the very popular 1989 Cabernet/Merlot blend to the U.S. market only.
In 1990 a parcel of land was purchased on Red Mountain, and planted the following year with 20 acres of Merlot, 18 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, and one acre of Cabernet Franc. During this time, the winery operated out of a the current small tasting room in Issaquah, Washington. A French-Style Chateau was built on Red Mt. in early 1995.
Brian Carter was the winemaker from 1989 to 1994. In 1995, Pat Henderson took over. Pat has a UC Davis background.
The Wines: (Spring 1996)
Pat Henderson 1995-present
Brian Carter 1989-1995
Of special note:
Hedges Wines are currently available in most states, and fifteen foreign countries (mostly in Northern Europe). The Cabernet-Merlot blend continues to be the bulk of the production, with a Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay blend added in 1992. Red Mountain Reserve (both red and white) is the name given to the small production of the winery's finest lots, named after the vineyard location in Eastern Washington State.
Perhaps the best expression to date of the potential of Red Mountain is the 1991 Hedges Red Mountain Reserve Red Wine. This wine has recieved 3 Gold Medals (including the 1995 San Francisco Fair, the only Washington wine to do so), a "Highly Reccommended" from the Northwest Palate, Two "Puffs" in the Connoisseurs Guide, "wine of the Month" in the October 1995 Edition of England's Decanter magazine and a rating of "90" on the October 28, 1995 edition of Robert Parker's "The Wine Advocate".
We are convinced that the future of the fine wine business in the United States has tremendous potential in Washington and specifically on Red Mountain and it is an exciting possibility that has yet to be fully realized. The future for Hedges Cellare is equally enticing eith the completion of our new winery and our vineyards on Red Mountain now coming into production. Although there is still much to learn and improvements to be made, the future looks bright indeed for Hedges Cellars.
Schedule 1996: April 26-28 Spring Barrel Tasting. Benton City. An annual event. Will send out invitations, no R.S.V.P required. Light hors d'oeuvres served. Hours: Friday 12-6; Sat. & Sun., 11-5.
May 4 Barrel Tasting at Snoqualmie Winery. Not a Hedges event per se, but we will participate along with seven other Puget Sound area wineries. Hours: 12-4p.m. $10.00 admission fee.
June 1 Spring Release Tasting and Open House. Issaquah. Informal, invitations sent but no R.S.V.P. required. Hors d'oeuvres with reduced prices offered on the new releases, 95 FC and 95 CM. Hours: 11-6.
July 27 Bottle your own Party. Issaquah. Format like BYO parties - bottle your own wine right from the barrel, have them signed by Tom Hedges. Hours: 11-6 p.m.
August 3 Bottle Your Own Party Issaquah. Format like past BYO parties. The winemaker will save 3 barrels of the '95 CM for this party. Invitations? Hours: 11-8.
Sept. 28-29 Catch the Crush. Benton City. An annual event sponsored by the Tri-Cities Winery Association. No R.S.V.P. required. Light hors d'oeuvres served, music, reduced prices offered. Hours: Sat. & Sun., 11-5.
December 7 Annual Christmas Party. Benton City. A decision was made to alternate the Christmas and BYO parties between Benton City and Issaquah. This year, with the BYO party in Issaquah, the Christmas Party will be in Benton City. In 1997, vice versa. As in past years, the Christmas Party will be by invitation with R.S.V.P. required. Format will be the same as previous years: nice food, music and great holiday pricing on all the wines.
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