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Hogue Cellars

Hogue Cellars

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 Columbia and Yakima valleys.

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 company, Vincor 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 fruit flavors 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, Pinot Gris, 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 Columbia Valley vineyards), and Hogue Reserves (ultra-premium wines, limited production and availability).

All of the Hogue wines are made from grapes grown in distinctive regions and vineyards within the Columbia Valley appellation, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla, Wahluke Slope, Alderdale and Tri-Cities. Hogue Cellars owns approximately 100 acres of wine grapes, and purchases additional fruit from Mike Hogue and other growers who farm their vineyards to the winemaking team’s specifications.

Hogue Winemaker David Forsyth

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
ski races.

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 sugar development.

• SEASONAL TEMPERATURES. The Columbia Valley's cold winters force grapevines into dormancy. Once or twice a decade, sub-zero temperatures 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 impact. Vines 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 after harvest.

• 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, Syrah, Lemberger, 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 thin 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 coming 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 the growing 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 vineyard.

Within the vast Columbia Valley are two BATF-recognized viticultural regions—Yakima Valley and Walla Walla—and a number of distinctive sub-regions, including Tri-Cities, Wahluke Slope,
and Horse Heaven Hills.


YAKIMA VALLEY
• 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 1,000 feet
• 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.

WALLA WALLA

• 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 in Oregon
• 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

TRI-CITIES
• 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 this confluence
• 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 Valley
• Focus varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc, with some Syrah. Because of the warmer growing season, emphasis is on Bordeaux-style varieties.

WAHLUKE SLOPE
• Located northwest of Tri-Cities between 46:45’ and 47:00’ N latitude
• 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 reliable
• 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 46:00’ N latitude
• 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 1,000 feet
• 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

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