Established in 2001, located on the eastern edge of the Yakima Valley
Not necessarily a mountain, more of a steep slope, which faces Southwest near the Yakima River
2,227 vineyard acres currently planted in the 4,538 acre area
More than 15 wineries are located in the Red Mountain AVA, with many additional Washington wineries sourcing grapes from Red Mountain's premiere growers
Primary grape varieties planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Petit Verdot
The area has a desert climate with average yearly rainfall of five inches per year. During the growing season daytime temperatures average 90 °F (32 °C) with night time temperatures dropping below 50 °F (10 °C).
Red Mountain is the smallest appellation in Washington State at 4,040 acres (1,630 ha). Due to warm temperatures, red grape varieties dominate on Red Mountain. There are, however, limited plantings of white grape varieties as well, particularly Sauvignon Blanc.
Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons tend to be full bodied, dark, and dense with dark cherry aromas and flavors. Merlots can be powerfully tannic—even more so than Cabernet. Red Mountain Syrahs tend to be bold and full-bodied, with abundant dark fruit flavors and mineral notes. Red Mountain wines often have a distinct minerality.
A sub-appellation of Yakima Valley (which is, in turn, a sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley), Red Mountain is located in south-central Washington near the small town of Benton City.
Its name is somewhat of a misnomer as it is neither red nor mountainous, with elevations ranging from 500 feet (152 m) to 1,500 feet (457 m). Red Mountain is, in fact, an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in the area. The area takes on a reddish hue in springtime due to the abundance of cheatgrass.
Red Mountain is typically Washington’s warmest growing region with broad, southwest-facing slopes and daytime growing season temperatures that average 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32° C). It has an arid, desert climate, receiving an average of 6 to 8 inches (15–20cm) of rainfall annually. Irrigation is therefore required to grow vinifera grapes.
The nearby Yakima River moderates temperatures and provides continual airflow, guarding against frost that can be problematic in nearby areas. Nighttime temperatures drop precipitously—often as much as 40 degrees—helping preserve the acid levels in the grapes.
Red Mountain soil is made up of sandy loam and gravel with high alkalinity (high pH) and a rich calcium carbonate content. A lack of soil nutrients along with the high pH reduces the vigor of the vines, resulting in significantly smaller berry sizes compared to varietal norms. This, along with prevailing winds, leads to higher tannin levels in many of the wines compared to other regions.