Northwest Wine

Terra Blanca

Northwest-Wine's 25th anniversary

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The winemaking philosophy at Terra Blanca is fairly simple " ... Start with high quality grapes, treat gently, ferment utilizing multiple yeasts, allow for solids contact to develop flavor profiles and finally rack, fine and filter only as necessary. Allow the grapes to express their terrior without inundating with excessive new oak. The resulting wines exhibit balance, depth, complexity and structure."

Terra Blanca is located on the Red Mountain in the Yakima Valley, in Washington State's Red Mountain Wine Appellation, near Kiona and Hedges wineries. Terra Blanca released its first vintage with its 1997 wines, and the winery is becoming known for their big red wines, a lovely Viognier, and a late harvest botrylized Semillon Dessert wine.

Terra Blanca began as the vision of owner/winemaker Keith Pilgrim. Having studied at U.C. Davis in enology, viticulture and geology back in the '80s, Keith had spent the last ten years gathering information on vineyard sites up and down the West coast. Drawing upon his combined geology/winemaking background, Keith looked to identify vineyard sites best suited to the varietals he was most interested in growing. After much searching and tasting he settled on the Southwestern slope of Red Mountain, located at the Southernmost end of the Yakima Valley. Three hundred acres were purchased in 1993 and the first 50 acres planted.The name Terra Blanca, Latin for white earth, is named for the high calcium carbonate content that whitens the soils.

Terra Blanca's first grapes were harvested from the estate vineyard 1997. The Red Mountain area is a separate appellation from the overall Yakima Valley appellation, and the most important factor that makes it different is its soil. The white color of the soil seen when driving through the area contains a very high amount of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate adds to the flavor and texture of the wines, imparting silky chalk and earthy notes. The soil of the Terra Blanca estate is composed of silty fine sands and fine, sandy silt loams with interbeds of carbonate-coated gravels, cobbles and boulders. Silt, sand and loam hold very little water and when combined with drip irrigation allow for very tight moisture control.

Terra Blanca uses the unique layered soil of their vineyard to control plant vigor. Calcium carbonate-rich interbeds are found four and fourteen feet below the soil surface. Since grape roots cannot penetrate through these layers, the vineyard crew rips through the layer at four feet with a Caterpillar tractor. Leaving the layer at fourteen feet stops root penetration, subsequently limiting plant vigor.

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