Farming has been a way of life
for the Hogue family for more than 50 years. They’ve
grown grapes, apples, hops, mint and other crops in eastern Washington’s
Mike Hogue planted the family's first wine
grapes in 1974, and by 1982
he and brother Gary were producing their own wine. Annual production
grew to 450,000
cases before the family sold the winery to Canada’s largest wine
International, in 2001.
In a relatively short period of time, eastern Washington has become
one the world's most
respected wine regions. The climate and soils produce grapes with intense
and high natural acidity. The wines have ripe, zesty fruit flavors and
a liveliness that
makes them ideal complements to a wide range of foods.
Hogue director of winemaking David Forsyth
and his team produce a full line of varietal
wines, including Chardonnay, Riesling, Fume Blanc, Gewürztraminer,
Semillon, Viognier, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery
bottles wines in
three distinctive tiers: Hogue Fruit Forward (ready to enjoy wines focused
on fresh fruit
flavors), Genesis by Hogue (Super-premium varietals blended from selected
Valley vineyards), and Hogue Reserves (ultra-premium wines, limited production
All of the Hogue wines are made from grapes
grown in distinctive regions and vineyards
within the Columbia Valley appellation, including Yakima Valley, Walla
Wahluke Slope, Alderdale and Tri-Cities. Hogue Cellars owns approximately
of wine grapes, and purchases additional fruit from Mike Hogue and other
farm their vineyards to the winemaking team’s specifications.
Hogue Winemaker David
A native of Ellensburg, Washington, David Forsyth joined the Hogue staff
in 1984 and became the head winemaker in 1988. As director of winemaking,
Forsyth oversees all aspects of wine production and
planning, including vineyard selection, scheduling of grape harvest,
and designing the production facilities.
Forsyth holds a Bachelor’s degree in zoology from Central Washington
University in Ellensburg and a Master’s in enology from UC Davis.
While at Davis, he worked as winemaker at Vose Vineyards in Napa County’s
Mayacamas Mountains. After three years, Forsyth returned to Washington
and joined Hogue.
Forsyth is a member and past chairman of the Central Washington Wine
Technical Group. He also serves on the Washington Wine Advisory Board,
which directs Washington wine research. In 1996, the Angeles Times’ Dan
Berger chose Forsyth Winemaker of the Year.
David, his wife Suzie, and their four children live in Prosser. He is
an avid cyclist and gardener, and a member of the U.S. Para-Ski Team.
This sport combines parachute landings for accuracy and timed snow
David has logged more than 1,800 jumps and 20 hours
of free-fall time since taking up skydiving just after high school graduation. "It
truly is flight," he
says. "I can't describe it in words. It's like nothing
else you'll ever do in your life."
Washington Wine Regions
Washington’s premium wine industry began in the 1960s. The majority
of the state’s wine grapes are planted east of the Cascade Range
in the Columbia Valley appellation, which encompasses the YakimaValley
and Walla Walla appellations. The climate and soils produce grapes with
intense fruit flavors and high natural acidity.
• LOCATION. Washington's vineyards straddle the 46th and 47th parallels,
at approximately the same latitude as Bordeaux and Burgundy.
• SUNLIGHT. Because of its northerly location, Washington receives up to
two more hours of sunlight per day during the growing season than California's
North Coast. More sun means more flavor development in the grapes.
• LOW RAINFALL. It can pour in Seattle, but east of the Cascades annual
rainfall averages less than 10 inches. The Cascade Range creates a rain
shadow that protects
eastern Washington from Pacific
storms and allows for warm, dry days during the growing season. Low
precipitation and low humidity minimize rot, mildew, disease and
pest problems in the vineyards.
• WATER MANAGEMENT. Growers control the amount of moisture the vines receive
during the growing season, providing for better canopy management
and skin-to-juice ratios. Growers irrigate
only when necessary to dial in and concentrate the flavor balance
in the grapes. The Columbia, Yakima and Snake rivers provide plenty
of water via an extensive aqueduct system.
• DAILY TEMPERATURES. Daily temperatures can fluctuate as much as 40-50
degrees during the growing season. This swing promotes natural acid development
and retention, balancing the sugars
in the grapes and giving structure to the wines. Chilly nights
(40-45 degrees F) lock in the acids and flavors; warm (but not-too-hot)
days (85-90 degrees F) ensure that the grapes ripen slowly without excessive
• SEASONAL TEMPERATURES. The Columbia Valley's
cold winters force grapevines into dormancy. Once or twice a decade,
can damage some vines in the coolest parts of the valley. However, careful
and on-going matching of grape varieties to vineyard sites lessens the
are planted on their own roots rather than on rootstock, so in the event
of severe winter damage, the vine can be trained up from the root
system and produce another crop the next year. At this time,
Phylloxera is not a problem in Washington, probably because the cold
winters and sandy soils slow its spread.
• SOILS. The region contains
mostly volcanic, sandy, and sandy loam composition soils, which are low
in nutrients and provide good drainage
for the vines.
• REGIONAL DIVERSITY. The Columbia Valley covers 18,000 square miles and
provides a huge range of geographical and climatic conditions
for grape growing. This diversity creates distinctive fruit characteristics
from individual sites and offers a myriad of stylistic options to winemakers
• GRAPE VARIETY. Because of the diverse growing conditions in eastern Washington,
a large number of grape varieties do well here. When
planted in the right locations, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling,
Gewurztraminer, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,
Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, and others thrive.
COLUMBIA VALLEY SUB REGIONS
The majority of vinifera vines in the Columbia Valley
are own-rooted and propagated from virusfree stock.
The shallow soils range from loamy sand to silty loam. Most of the
veneer and basalt bedrock was wind-deposited, with some alluvial
and minor volcanic deposits. Precipitation averages
less than 10 inches a year, with most of the rainfall and snowmelt
between November and April; most vineyards require supplemental
irrigation. Periodic cold episodes in mid-winter can
damage vines, but the warm daytime temperatures and cool nights during
season promote slow,
even ripening and the retention of natural acidity.
Hogue Cellars sources fruit from throughout the
Columbia Valley from sites where the grower has managed to match
the correct grape variety and clone with the specific terroir of the
Within the vast Columbia Valley are two BATF-recognized
Valley and Walla Walla—and a number of distinctive
sub-regions, including Tri-Cities, Wahluke Slope,
and Horse Heaven Hills.
Located in south-central WA between 46:15’ and 46:30’ N latitude
• First WA region in which wine grapes were commercially planted (1930s)
• First approved viticultural appellation in the state (1983)
• Vineyard elevations range from 600 to 1,300 feet, with the majority around
Region is considered “cool,” with typical heat units around
2,500 (high Region I to low Region II by UC Davis classification).
• High quality irrigation water flows through a canal system from reservoirs
located in the Cascades
• Focus varieties: Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Sauvignon
Blanc, and Chenin Blanc; and to a lesser extent, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Lemberger. There is recent interest in Pinot Grigio
and Syrah. Because of Yakima's cool microclimate,
northern European varieties excel and Bordeaux and southern
European varieties have more demanding site requirements.
Located in southeastern WA between 45:45’ and 46:15’ N latitude
• Approved as a viticultural appellation in 1984
• Grapes first planted in 1970s; most of the current acreage has been planted
since 1995, between Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater
• Total acreage for the area is approximately 800
• Vineyard elevations are between 900 and 1,100 feet
Walla Walla is considered “warm” with heat units between
2,800 and 3,100 (high Region II, low Region III).
• Focus varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sangiovese; the
later-ripening red varieties tend to excel due to higher
heat units and heavier soils
• Located in south-central WA between Yakima and Walla Walla appellations
and between 46:00’ and 46:15’ N latitude,
at the confluence of the Yakima, Columbia and Snake rivers
• The cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco (the Tri-Cities) surround
• Vineyards are located primarily north and east of Pasco
• Many vineyards date to the early 1970s, and the remainder were planted
in the 1980s
• Vineyard elevations range between 400 and 800 feet
The area is considered “warm” (high Region II) with slightly
lower heat units than Walla Walla but warmer than Yakima
• Focus varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon
Blanc, with some Syrah. Because of the warmer growing
season, emphasis is on Bordeaux-style varieties.
Located northwest of Tri-Cities between 46:45’ and 47:00’ N
• The first grapes were planted in the early 1980s
• Most plantings are near the town of Mattawa at the western end of the
slope, at an elevation of approximately 1,000 feet
The area is considered “very warm” with heat units exceeding
3,000 every year (Region III)
• Soils vary between loamy sand and silt loam, depending on the proximity
to the Columbia River
• As with Walla Walla and Tri-Cities, higher heat units ensure better ripening
with Bordeaux varieties and favor Rhone varieties
• Wahluke tends to have moderate winter temperatures, making yields more
• Focus varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, with some
Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah
HORSE HEAVEN HILLS
• Located south of Yakima Valley along the north side of the Columbia River
between The Dalles and Wallula Gap, between 45:45’ and
• Grapes first planted in late 1970s; 1990s brought major plantings on
Canoe Ridge, Zephyr Ridge, and Alder Ridge
• Most plantings are on a ridge system that runs along the north side of
the Columbia River, with elevations between 600 and 1,000
feet; there are more plantings farther north of the river at an elevation of
Heat is variable, but generally “warm” with 2,800 heat units
• Soils are sandy and variable in depth
Focus varieties: Earlier plantings included Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer,
Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon; since 1990,
the focus has been on Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon