Over the last four decades, Red Mountain has established itself as not only Washington’s premier winegrowing region, but one of the finest in the world. Once a well-kept secret, the recent boom in plantings and investments have served notice: Red Mountain has arrived.
—Sean P. Sullivan
Photos by Richard Duval
From Humble Beginnings
Red Mountain’s ascent began quite modestly. In 1972, General Electric engineers Jim Holmes and John Williams decided to invest in a piece of property.
“We had tried the stock market, and we were miserable failures at that,” Holmes says with a laugh.
At first blush, their land venture didn’t look much more promising. The 80 acres they purchased and the surrounding area were barren and isolated. The two had a hard time even determining the exact location of their land.
“There was no road, no signs,” says Holmes. “There was nothing.”
The idea of planting a vineyard—based on research at Washington State University that stated growing wine grapes nearby was possible—seemed absurd.
“Everybody thought they were nuts,” says grower Dick Boushey, who now manages vineyards comprising hundreds of acres in the Red Mountain area.
The area’s lack of infrastructure only reinforced those doubts.
“There was no water, no power, no roads,” says Holmes. “Strangely enough, we decided we’d go ahead and do it anyway.”
“No one thought red wine grapes had a chance in those days,” says Holmes. Most areas of Washington were thought to be too cold and the growing season too short to ripen red wine grapes, especially the heat-lovingCabernet Sauvignon.
They named their vineyard Kiona (pictured)—a Native American name for the region that translates as “brown hills”—and in 1980, founded the first winery on Red Mountain.