McKinley Springs grows over 20 varietals on its 2000 acre estate vineyard in the southern part of Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills.
Rob Andrews, grower, tends to the vineyards and Doug Rowell, winemaker, oversees production. Together they make 10 wines, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chenin Blanc. McKinley Springs also supplies 25 noted area wineries with grapes, including Andrew Rich, Northstar, Syncline, Hogue and Columbia Crest.
The McKinley Springs wines vary from year to year, but usually include:
Chenin Blanc from the Columbia Valley
Viognier from the Columbia Valley
Bombing Range Red Horse Heaven Hills - During WWII the United States government used the Horse Heaven Hills to train fighter pilots. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, malbec, and petit verdot is a tribute to that period.
Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley - The vineyard’s older vines give the cabernet a textured, mature mouthfeel, subtle dark fruit, coupled with gentle oak, spice, and tannin, akin to the Bordeaux-influenced Napa cabs of the 1970s.
More About McKinley Springs
Syrah Columbia Valley - The syrah comes from younger vines at McKinley Springs and has varietal smokiness, vibrant fruit, and an expansive, lush texture.
The Horse Heaven Hills has played a major role in Washington’s emerging status as an important international player in producing quality, handcrafted wines. Since 1980 Doug and Sandy Rowell, and Sandy’s brother, Rob Andrews of McKinley Springs Vineyard have been a big part of the AVA’s growth. The Andrews family were wheat and vegetable farmers long before they planted orchard fruit and grapes nearly 30 years ago. The vineyard gained a reputation for turning out quality, low-yield fruit and developed a client base at some of Washington’s major wineries, who, in turn use his fruit to craft their top, small-production wines.
After two decades as growers, Doug and Sandy released their first wines under the McKinley Springs label from the 2002 vintage with the help of wine- maker James Mantone of Syncline. They have since taken over the winemaking themselves, and are working toward expanding their production to around 5000 cases.
Today, McKinley Springs makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Barbera Rosé, Chenin Blanc and Viognier, and continue to experiment with new plantings in their 1800 acre vineyard, planted at 1100 feet in elevation on Warden sandy silt loam soils. The vines are but a fraction of the family’s total farming operations, which totals over 7000 acres.
In 1980 the vineyard was planted with 16 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. Those original 16 acres are now affectionately referred to as “the Old Block”. 16 acres of Chenin Blanc were planted in 1981 and thus began the Andrews Horse Heaven Ranch Vine- yards.
Over the years more vineyard blocks were added, which included more varietals. In 1997 the McKinley Springs Vineyards were started and more wineries were added to the list of customers. Over the years wineries have requested new varietals to be planted. Not only for blending purposes, but as stand alone varietals to quench the appetite wine lovers have acquired for new and pioneerng wines.
With 25 years of experience growing premium wine grapes the folks at McKinley Springs have learned quite a bit about what it takes to grow wine grapes. Synthetic viticultural practices that were acceptable 20 years ago are unheard of today.
Innovation in the vineyard, backed by experience and research are the keys to successful vineyard management. In conjunction with the wineries they work with McKinley Springs is constantly striving towards improving the quality of the wine grapes they grow and the wines they produce.