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Unique Wine Varietals of the Yakima Valley

Unique Wine Varietals of the Yakima Valley

It’s more than likely you have experienced some of the more widely planted varietals in the Yakima Valley. Our Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris and Syrah grapes are a fixture in most Washington State wines. But you may not have tried some of the 34 other wine grape varietals we grow.  Whether you’re in town for a weekend event, one of the big wine weekends like Red Wine and Chocolate  or Spring Barrel Tasting weekend, or you’re on your own wine tasting tour, put these unique varieties on your list of “must-try!”

Albariño* is a variety of white wine grape grown mostly  in northwest Spain and Portugal, and more recently Washington State, where it is used to make varietal white wines. Albariño is the Galician name for the grape; in Portugal it is known as Alvarinho, and sometimes as Cainho Branco.  It was presumably brought to Iberia by monks in the twelfth century. Its name "Alba-Riño" means "the white [wine] from the Rhine.  It is thought to be a Riesling clone, originating from the Alsace region of France, although earliest known records of Riesling as a grape variety date from the 15th, rather than the 12th century.

  • Mayhill Winery 2015 Albarino - Tropical fruit dominate the nose with aromas of pineapple, mango and a hint of lime zest. Light, crisp and tangy, this Albariño showcases flavors of pink grapefruit, cantaloupe melon and lemon on the palate and finishes with a lively acidity.
  • Thurston Wolfe Winery 2015 Albariño – Their 2015 Albariño is the third vintage from the Crawford Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Harvested in late September, it is stainless fermented to maximize the intense pear and apricot aromas characteristic of this variety.
  • Yakima Valley Vintners 2015 Alumno Albarino - You will find that this Albariño is smooth and refreshing, with aromas of fresh apricots, pineapple and a hint of banana. The wine exhibits exceptional depth of flavors ranging from green apple, to Asian pear to melon. This uniquely created wine pairs well with steamed clams, sushi, and white fish.


Carménère* grape is a variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. A member of the Cabernet family of grapes, the name "Carménère" originates from the French word for crimson (carmin), which refers to the brilliant crimson color of the autumn foliage prior to leaf-fall. Carménère is considered part of the original six red grapes of Bordeaux, France, although it is rarely found there now.

  • AntoLin Estates Estate Carménère - From the AntoLin Estate Vineyard, this Carménère features aromas of pomegranate, vanilla and cardamom. Toasty caramel and earthy flavors give this a nice velvety and smooth finish perfect for any meal. It is fermented in 40% new and 60% once-used French oak barrels, and nicely expresses the varietal characteristic of this grape.
  • Tanjuli Winery Carménère 2013 - Enjoy with sweet and spicy pork sausages, lamb curry or teriyaki beef.
  • Maryhill Winery 2013 Carménère – A medium-bodied varietally-appropriate vintage delights with aromas of cherry, spices and juicy raspberry compote.  Notes of raspberry, white chocolate, mushroom and leather on the palate.
  • Sleeping Dog Winery 2012 Carmenere –The source for this wine is the nearby Buoy Vineyard, and this historic Bordeaux variety represents a two-barrel lot at the tiny Benton City winery. Roasted walnut, hazelnut skins and black pepper lead to a theme of black cherry and red currant without the leafiness often associated with Carm. The sturdy structure makes for nice length that’s capped by Montmorency cherry.
  • Yakima Valley Vintners. 2014 Science Fair Carmenere - As the lost Bordeaux grape, this Carmenere has aromas of pronounced red fruit met with some spices, cola character, as well as some herbal notes and earthiness. This medium-bodied wine is complex on the palate beginning with a red-fruit sensation balanced with full tannins, pepper and ending with a long velvety finish. The fruit was grown with passion at Pontin Farms in the Yakima Valley.


Muscadelle* is a white wine grape variety that has a simple aroma of grape juice and raisins, similar to grapes of the Muscat family, but it is unrelated.

  • Daven Lore 2015 Muscadelle  Colin Morrell of the Yakima Valley’s Lonesome Spring Ranch has just 1.3 acres of this grape - one of the largest plantings in the state. A few Washington winemakers add this aromatic white variety to their white Bordeaux style blends. Daven Lore’s winemaker, Gordon Taylor, created this unique 100% Muscadelle as a semi-sweet style wine - why? -  Because rules are meant to be broken! Gordon tried this grape at Colin’s urging, as they walked the vineyard. After the grape hit his taste buds he knew, saying, “Yep, I am going to make this one.” Join Daven Lore in breaking the rules by savoring the distinctive floral character of this Muscadelle.


Primitivo* is considered to be a close ancestor of Zinfandel. DNA fingerprinting technique to confirm that Primitivo and Zinfandel are clones of the same variety. Its wines are reputed to have more blackberry and spice flavors.

  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Primitivo - Gracefully aromatic with notes of cherry, cranberry, boysenberry, baking spices and sweet honeysuckle infused tea.  With a clean finish and just the right amount of tannins, this well-balanced vintage deserves a hearty round of applause.
  • Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Vineyard Series Primitivo Wahluke Slope - Their 2012 Vineyard Series Primitivo has aromas of raspberry preserves, cinnamon and clove with a hint of sour cherry. This wine has a broad viscous entry and silky tannins in the mid-palate with a toasty finish.
  • Yakima Valley Vintners 2014 Primitivo - This wine is enticing from the very first sip. You will notice aromas and flavors of candied cherry, dark fruits, spice, vanilla and toffee. This medium-bodied wine is balanced with good acidity and silky tannins.  Savor the complex flavors and enjoy with food or drink all by itself.


Picpoul* Piquepoul, Picpoul, or Picapoll, a variety of wine grape grown primarily in the Rhone Valley and Languedoc regions of France, as well as Catalonia, Spain. It exists both in dark-skinned (Piquepoul noir) and light-skinned (Piquepoul blanc) versions, as well as a very little grown Piquepoul gris.  

  • Tanjuli Winery.  Picpoul Blanc 2013 Dry. Dry, crisp and citrusy. Their estate is one of the few producers in this hemisphere. Perfect with fish tacos and sunny days.
  • Tanjuli Winery. Picpoul Blanc 2014 Sweet. Sweet, crisp and citrusy. Their estate is one of the few producers in this hemisphere. Like biting into a starburst, it explodes with flavor.


*Excerpts of history of grape varietals from Wikipedia