The story of Washington Hills cellars begins
in the late 1980s, when one of the state's most knowledgeable wine retailers
and distributors and one of the Northwest's best winemakers combined their
talents and experience in a new business venture. Harry D. Alhadeff, who
had owned a chain of wine shops and restaurants and who then was the owner
of Alhadeff Distributing Company, and Brian Carter, a winemaker of extraordinary
depth and experience, decided that creating a new winery together would
allow each of them to do what they loved best-for Brian, making the best
wines possible; for Harry, making them available to an increasingly wine-savvy
public. And they could have fun doing it.
Harry Alhadeff became President of Washington
Hills Cellars and Brian Carter became Vice President of Winemaking Operations
and full-time winemaker.
Washington Hills' first 50,000 gallons of wines
were released in 1989. Within 10 months, all of it was sold.
During the 1988 grape harvest, Brian had come across some extraordinary
cabernet grapes with exceptional potential. Using the knowledge he had
gained at the School of Enology at U.C. Davis and the experience he
brought from years as winemaker at some of California and Washington's
finest wineries, Brian made just 100 cases of a very special wine -
a super ultra premium Cabernet Sauvignon. It was released under the
winery's new brand for top-of-the-line wines, Apex. Subsequent vintages
a full line of award-winning Apex varietals.
The 1989 vintage of Washington Hills wines had
been made by Brian at an historic 40,000sf complex in Sunnyside. Originally
built as a creamery, it had been converted to a winery in the 1980s.
By 1991, Washington Hills had acquired the facility and launched an
ongoing program of modernization and improvement that included installing
state of the art equipment and adding a tasting room, retail store and
gift shop, and gardens for picnics and special events.
In October 1993 Harry and Brian introduced a brand
of superpremium varietal wines, Bridgman, which was named for the man
who in 1917 first introduced European wine grapes to the Yakima Valley.
The brand became an immediate success. True to the vision and foresight
of its namesake, Bridgman wines include some of the more innovative
and unusual varietals, such as Lemberger, Syrah and Viognier.
Washington Hills Cellars is one of Washington's largest and most respected
wineries. Its three brands, Washington Hills, Bridgman and Apex, cover
the spectrum of wines from premium to super ultra premium The wines
are available in many parts of the U.S. as well as Canada and the U.K.,
and are being introduced into additional major markets world-wide.
Washington Hills Cellars is a success by any measure.
When it comes to awards per wine entered in local, regional or national
competitions, the winery has one of the state's best "batting averages."
The wines of all three brands have received glowing reviews from the
most respected wine experts here and abroad. Most important for Harry
and Brian, though, Washington Hills Cellars has become known as a winery
consumers can trust-a winery that produces wines they will find consistently
excellent, regardless of brand, variety or vintage.
Washington Hills Cellars is accomplishing that
goal by combining Harry Alhadeff's vast knowledge and experience in
the wine business (and his avid appreciation for and love of fine wine)
and Brian Carter's uncanny ability to use the whole palette of the science
and art of winemaking to produce extraordinary wines.