Stunning Views, Sustainable Viticulture
Blue Mountain Estate Vineyard
The Tranche winery occupies a spectacular site in the foothills of the Blue Mountains east of Walla Walla. The Blue Mountain Vineyard literally rises from the crushpad, climbing from 1145 to 1265 feet, with a heart-thumping, birds-eye view of the entire Walla Walla Valley.
Originally planted in 2001, and frequently expanded since, it is home to both red Rhône and red Bordeaux varieties, along with a few acres of Sangiovese. Our commitment to white Rhône varietals is one of the most extensive in Washington state. Here are twelve total acres of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, and what we believe to be the very first plantings of Clairette Blanche in the country.
The quality of the finished wines depends directly upon the care taken in the vineyard. To that end, we farm at low yields – typically 1.5 to 2.5 tons/acre. This helps to maximize fruit intensity, contributes to flavor development, and ripens complex, polished tannins. Sustainable farming methods are mandatory in all of our vineyards, and here we are in the process of moving further into biodynamic viticulture. All the work of farming and harvesting is carried out by hand, ensuring that each vine gets individual care and attention.
We also employ our flock of Old English Southdown “Babydoll” Sheep to provide an environmentally friendly way of maintaining vineyard groundcover during the growing season, and their ‘recycled grass’ serves to improve soil fertility. This ancient breed is called Babydoll becuase they are considerably smaller than more common breeds so they can’t easily reach the tresslied grapevines. These adorable animals play an important role in our sustainable farming practices.
Taken together, the vineyard’s elevation, airflow, moderate rainfall and ever-changing sun exposure across the vine rows make this a unique ‘sweet spot’ in the Walla Walla Valley. These natural factors maximize the growing season, protect against spring frost and winter freeze, ensure physiological ripening, promote acid retention, and minimize the need for irrigation.
The soil is Walla Walla silt loam, most often referred to as Loess (pronounced “luhss”). This is ancient flood sediment, deposited in the valley between 12 and 15 thousand years ago during the recurring Missoula floods. Once the waters receded, the winds took over, picking up sediment from throughout the valley and depositing it here at the doorstep of the Blue Mountains. Over the centuries, the land acquired deep, rich, well-drained soil, providing a pesticide-free environment where healthy, balanced plants thrive.
Walk the rows with us and you’ll see our regular visitors – Red-Tail Hawks and Red Foxes. You’ll catch a glimpse of our closest neighbors. Leonetti Cellar’s Loess Estate Vineyard is just a quarter mile to the south, and the Dwelley vineyard sits a half mile to the east.
To view an aerial map of the Blue Mountain Vineyard click here.
Blackrock Estate Vineyard
Blackrock Vineyard is a stone’s throw from Red Mountain, on the eastern edge of the Yakima Valley AVA. There are over 50 acres planted from 1998 to the present time. It’s one of those sites that seems able to perform brilliantly across a wide spectrum of grapes, including Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot), Rhône varietals (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Counoise), and Mediterranean varietals (Dolcetto and Barbera from Italy, Tempranillo from Spain). Working with so many unusual varietals at this vineyard gives us a wealth of opportunity.
Blackrock was planted on very steep slopes, is sustainably farmed, and offers a range of soils. Here the climate is more temperate, with average temperatures 5 to 10 degrees cooler than nearby Red Mountain.
Celilo Estate Vineyard
Celilo sits above the Columbia River in the Columbia Gorge AVA and has long been considered the finest white wine vineyard in Washington state. In 1972, it was converted from a pear orchard to vineyards by the McAndrews family, who had been the sole owners until now. The property consists of 129 acres of land with 53 acres of dry-farmed vineyard planted to Chardonnay, Gewurtraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gruner Veltliner, Lemberger, and Muller Thurgau. Soils from the extinct volcanic cone of Underwood Mountain can be as deep as 45 feet and retain moisture well, allowing Celilo Vineyards to survive without irrigation. The deep rooted vines bring a mineral characteristic to Celilo’s wines along with higher acidity giving them Burgundian characteristics. At an elevation ranging from 800 to 1200 feet, the vineyard is considered sub-alpine, sitting on a cusp of wetter maritime weather to the west and the high desert to the east.