Canoe Ridge Wines from Washington State



Driving east over the Cascade Mountains in the beautiful state of Washington, the climate changes, from thick, lush, steep Pine mountains, to dry dessert, complete with tumbleweeds. Dotted along the main highways of Interstate 82, you see greenery; apple orchards, potato fields, and grape vines. 18 Wheelers carry fresh produce to the railyards that dot the scenery. Washington wine country shares a border with the state of Oregon in Columbia Valley. This area is still on the rise, and Washington State wines have an impressive value- which will ever increase as their experience in grape growing does, too. Warm days and cool nights allow for ideal growing conditions for grapes in this special area.


In 1989 Canoe Ridge winery was formed by some big names in wine in the Pacific Northwest, including Mike Hogue of Hogue Cellars, and Rick Small of Woodward Canyon. Chalone Cellars of Napa, CA was also a principal owner in the early days. The winery recently celebrated 25 years of wine growing, and 20 years as a commercial property. The Horse Heaven Hills sub appellation became an AVA (American Viticultural Area) in 2005. The area is renowned for growing Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, and even Petite Verdot and small amounts of Malbec, as well as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc on the whites. Canoe Ridge has 181 acres on South facing slopes. The soil is ancient volcanic with cool, drying winds forced up from the Columbia River. This area is some of the best Merlot vineyard land in the US. The name, Canoe Ridge, comes from a ridge by the vineyard located along the mid- Columbia River, near the town of Paterson. The famed explorers, Lewis & Clark named this crest of land as they journeyed down the Columbia in 1805, thinking the ridge resembled an overturned canoe. The Canoe Ridge vineyard site had become iconic in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation.



Canoe Ridge winemaker, Hayden Mouat, a New Zealand native, now has deep roots in Walla Walla. He bagan working harvests in college in Central Otago, and quickly changed his major. Hayden completed his studies in enology at Lincoln University, British Columbia. His resume includes a couple of years in California, and many years at Seven Hills Winery in Washington State. Canoe Ridge winery’ss annual case production is about 70,000. Classic French oak aging, with supplemental American and Hungarian barrels, the wines typically are soft in tannin, so the subtle oak adds to the beauty of the finished product. The “Expedition” series of wines is the winery’s entry level tier offering affordable quality. You can find most of the wines they produce here at Ed’s.


Canoe Ridge Expedition Pinot Gris this wine is aged in 100% stainless steel tanks, expressing just the flavor of the grapes grown in the Columbia Valley, a small percentage of Muscat Canelli and Gewurztraminer are blended in. Aromas of lemon zest and ruby red grapefruit, with flavors of honeysuckle and green apple, I give it 2 bones!!

Canoe Ridge Expedition Chardonnay made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills appellation, aged gently in American and French oak for 10 months, flavors of ripe apple and apricot introduce pear and honeydew, with a zippy acidity. I give it 2 bones!!

Canoe Ridge Expedition Red Blend - smoky aromas of pepper, spice and black licorice, this blend of 35% Merlot, 26% Syrah, 25% Cabernet with a small amount, 14% Grenache. Flavors of blueberries on the mid palette, and a long raspberry finish- yum! A paw staining red blend, I give it 3 bones!!

Canoe Ridge Expedition Merlot is an exceptional value, and a reason to drink Merlot again! Either by itself or paired with a great meal, this 100% Merlot needs no blending, beautiful dark berry fruit aromas, flavors of dark cherry and currant, with a mild blue fruit, cocoa finish. I give it 3 bones!!


Come by and see our exceptional values sourced from the great state of Washington, starting with Canoe Ridge Winery of Walla Walla.



 By Brunello Giancola as told to CRBrown