Ellensburg Canyon Vista Winery

Cox Canyon Vineyards draws on Gary R. Cox’s many years of experience as a Plant & Soil Scientist. He obtained his Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University in Plant & Soil Science, his Master of Science from Washington State University

Touring Region
Current Weather
Fair, 66° F

Retail Sales, Gift Shop, Picnic Area, Tasting Room

Hours of Operation
10 - 6PM Daily from March 1st thru Thanksgiving In the Wine Country Weekend in November. Other times by appointment.

Open to the Public

Yearly Production (in cases)

Variety List
Blend - Bordeaux Style Red
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc

2012 Ralf Rae Red
2012 Late Harvest Riesling
2008 Ralf Rae Rose'
2011 Ralf Rae Riesling
2008 Ralf Rae Red
Spring Into the Yakima Canyon Beginning March 1st After 34 years of working at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, I am officially ‘retired’ and devoting all attention to my passion of utilizing sustainable ‘green’ practices to grow the best winegrapes imaginable and producing award winning wines which incorporate this unique Terroir in the World of Wine, and offering these for sale at an affordable price point (or what I define as Quality). Our recently remodeled tasting room will begin regular hours of 10 AM to 6 PM commencing March 1st and going thru Thanksgiving in the Wine Country in late November. Stop by, say hello to Ralf Rae (the vineyard dog), and sample the bounty that is uniquely Washington, eh? Cheers! P.S. We have the best prices on all varieties of Cougar Gold, Viking, and Cheddar Cheese in the Kittitas Valley (and boy howdy, do they pair well with our wines).

Our Story

The Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is Washington’s largest viticultural area extending from the Okanogan in the North, to Oregon in the South, East along the Snake River to Idaho, and West along the Cascade Mountains. The Yakima River, emanating from the headwaters high in the Cascades, provides pure virgin water through the Kittitas Reclamation District system and facilitates sustainable wine grape production. The foothills of the Cascade Mountains form a unique microclimate along the Western Boundary of the Columbia Valley AVA.

Planted in 1998 in the Northwest corner of the Columbia Valley AVA is the 17 acre Cox Canyon Vineyard, 5 acres of which is in production. This is a beautiful West sloping site on an alluvial deposited Benwy silt loam soil laid down upon the uplifted basalts which form the entrance to the Wild & Scenic Yakima River Canyon. Volcanic ash has been deposited in layers from nearby Mt. Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens eruptions over time and provides valuable micronutrients to the soil profile. Elevation varies from 1400 to 1525 feet, higher than other Yakima Valley sites, provides for good air drainage, and allows for thermal amplitude to occur (diurnal temperature fluctuations of ~ 50 F which develop flavinoids in the grapes). Designation as the Ellensburg Canyon AVA is underway with the TTB.

This Terroir ripens late, producing low yields (2.5 tons/acre) with small berry size, deep color and great concentration of fruit flavors. The temperatures may be 3-5 F cooler on average, but the increased hours of sunlight from a more Northerly latitude during the middle of the growing season provide optimal conditions for intensely flavored fruit. This, coupled with companion cropping with currants (e.g. raspberries and native huckleberries, elderberries, and blackberries) allows for Xenia to occur (the direct effect of pollen on seed characteristics) which produce additional flavors within the wine grape seed desired by the winemaker. These soils allow for deep root penetration of ~ 25’.

Cox Canyon Vineyards took special care in developing this site, as rock had to be moved during planting. Said rock has been repositioned within the vineyard rows to capture heat during the day, releasing it back during the night to facilitate even respiration and sugar production. All prunings are mulched back to the soil to encourage mycorrhizal fungus associations to form within the vines, facilitating water and nutrient uptake. Close attention is paid to irrigation applications utilizing state-of-the-art precision agriculture technology to stress the vines (Regulated Deficit Irrigation) from which result intense fruit flavors. This twelve year old planting shows great promise and has resulted in award winning wines being produced at the 697th licensed winery in Washington: Ellensburg Canyon Vista Winery. To date 3 Gold, 5 Silver, 8 Bronze Medals and an Outstanding/Best Buy from Wine Press Northwest Magazine have been awarded to Cox Canyon Vineyards wine. Our Ralf Rae Red Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Franc, ‘White’ Cabernet Franc, and Rieslings are excellent example of our unique Terroir at an affordable price point.

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