Chateau Champoux: Washington's Finest Wines

A few miles after the turn-off to the north onto Alderdale Road, a brown sign announces the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, which was founded in 2005. On Washington Route 14, which borders the Columbia River, southbound, travelers will see the first sign of Chateau Championoux on the left, near the intersection with Washington State Route 13.

Not far away, wine travelers will see the vineyards stretching across the gently sloping hills of Horse Heaven Hills.Page artwork They do not make wine, but they have a tasting room at Chateau Champoux where wine lovers can taste wines from their grapes. He makes his wine at his own Coyote Canyon Winery, located in the Winemaker Loft in Prosser's wine-growing village. McKinley Springs Vineyard grows more than 23 different wines, following a long history of excellent viticulture. The grapes are sold to some of the most prestigious winemakers in the Pacific Northwest.

The Mercer Ranch Effect

The vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, called Canoe Ridge Vineyard, is part of Precept Wine, which owns 181 acres of vineyards. Michelle, who makes wines from grapes from the Canoes Ridge Estate, has achieved scores of 90 or more in more than 40 vintages.  Growing conditions at both sites are almost identical, and the Mercer family has been with the company for 25 years, according to Michelle. In 1972 Don and Linda Mercer planted the first grapes on Mercer Ranch, and the grapes were so successful that they were planted in the Horse Heaven Hills.

Today, the Mercer family cultivates over 2,000 hectares of grapes destined for bottling. This makes Champoux Vineyard one of the largest vineyards in the state of Washington.  Champoux Vineyard is a winery in the Appellation Horse Heaven Hills in the US state of Washington. The vineyards produce some of Washington's most prestigious wines, with the name Champoux regularly appearing on the vineyard's designated wines. It is perhaps the largest and most famous winery in Washington with over 2,000 acres of grapes and the only one of its kind in North America.  Cabernet Sauvignon received its first planting in Block 2, planted in 1981, and Baby Poux Block, planted in 1991. The connection with the vineyard began in 1976, the year the winery was founded and Paul Champoux became the vineyard manager.

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Horse Heaven Hills

Horse Heaven Hills supplies 25% of Washington's grapes, and the bulk is bought by Chateau Ste. Michelle. Most wineries age red wines and release bottles that are ready to drink, while reserve wines take 5-6 years to show their best side.

As well as selling the fruit, most of the winemakers are dedicated to producing wine for their own labels. Paul Champoux runs his own winery, Chateau Ste. Louis, who supplies grapes to some of Washington's leading winemakers, including Will Will. Nevertheless, the most sought after grapes in the region are the red wines such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay, as well as the white wines.  Don Mercer began growing grapes in the early 1970s, when it was not expected that they would be viable in a region that was traditionally known for all kinds of agriculture, including carrots, potatoes, and wheat. In the late 1970s, he planted more grapes and named the spread Mercer Ranch Vineyards, after his father Don Mercer.  Paul Champoux, who didn't know much about viticulture, was looking out for pioneers of the Washington wine industry, including Paul Mercer and his wife Judy, as well as several other local farmers. Paul and Paul's wife Judy leased the estate from the Mercers and built their own vineyard, which was expanded with additional plantings of various varieties.  

Dramatic Increases in Wine Quality

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As Mike Januik puts it: "Champoux Vineyards is a world-class vineyard, and we would be much better off if we were to focus on wine production. " Paul has been instrumental in making this possible in Washington state.  I still believe that we have not yet made the best wine. The list of wines produced in the Columbia Valley since the mid-1980s, with which I have been able to work and give back to some of the most dedicated winemakers in our industry, seems endless.

At the time, Champoux Vineyard was one of the most successful vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The estate in Horse Heaven Hills consistently produced wines of exceptional depth, complexity, and elegance.  

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