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Brian Carter Cellars Vineyards

Of all the decisions a winemaker has to make – from grapes to barrels to yeast and equipment – the vineyards chosen for their wines is easily the most important. The site where the grapes are grown is the most critical piece of a wine’s quality, followed by the way the grapes are grown. Therefore, when I make a decision to purchase grapes from a particular vineyard, the effect on the final wine is doubly important since it always involves a site as well as a grower/manager.

Listed below are the eleven most important vineyards and growers from which Brian Carter Cellars currently purchases grapes. In addition to the AVA (American Viticultural Area), the varieties sourced and a brief description of the style of wines coming from each site, I have listed the year the vineyard was first planted and the year I first started to purchase from that vineyard (often dating back before the beginning of Brian Carter Cellars). Totaling the years, these eleven vineyards have been in existence – over 300 years – gives us some idea of the cumulative experience these growers have managing their sites. Totaling the number of years I have personally worked with the vineyards –129 years – gives us some idea of the cumulative experience I personally have had with them.

View Vineyard Map


Klipsun Vineyard

Appellation: Red Mountain
Owners: David and Trisha Gelles
Manager: Julia Koch

Total acres of vines: 120
Soils: Warden and Hezel silt loam
Altitude (feet): 600 to 800
Year established: 1984
First vintage used by Brian Carter: 1994

Varieties sourced: Cabernet Sauvignon
Characteristics of the wines: Big wines with a lot of concentrated structure. Adds strength and ability to age to the blends.
Notes: Both the wines and Trisha have achieved legendary status in the State, helped along with an article in Wine and Spirits Magazine which picked Klipsun as one of the top 25 vineyards in the whole wide world!

Stone Tree Vineyard

Appellation: Wahluke Slope
Owners: Mark Wheeler and Tedd Wildman
Manager: Tedd Wildman

Total Acres of Vines: 250
Soils: Scoon sandy loam and sandy silt loam
Altitude (feet): 940 to 1250
Year first planted: 2000
First vintage used by Brian Carter: 2002

Varieties sourced: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah
Characteristics of the wines: Full ripe flavors, silky tannins, rich fruit and good color.
Notes: Tedd and I had been friends and professional partners for nearly a decade when he told me he was going to start a vineyard on the “Best remaining vineyard site in the State.” Now having been one of his first customers and Stone Tree being Brian Carter Cellars largest source of grapes, he was spot on in his assessment of the place.

Boushey Vineyard

Appellation: Yakima Valley
Owners: Dick and Luanne Boushey
Manager: Dick Boushey

Year first planted: 1980
First vintage: 1986

Varieties sourced: Sangiovese, Grenache, Cinsault
Characteristics of the wines: Bright fruit, good natural acidity, wines reminiscent of France and Italy.
Notes: Dick is rapidly becoming an icon in the industry; his site, dedication to quality and his support of the Washington State wine industry are all reasons why.

Solstice Vineyard

Appellation: Yakima Valley
Owners: Jim and Carla Willard
Manager: Jim Willard

Year planted: 1980
First vintage: 1988

Varieties sourced: Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roussanne and Viognier
Characteristics of the wines: Food friendly wines with good balance, moderate structure and complex fruit aromas and earthy notes.
Notes: The vineyard, located high on the Rosa north of Prosser is our coolest site. Jim and I have walked the rows together for over 25 years. Between his grapes and my winemaking we have put a lot of great wines into the glass.


E & E Shaw Vineyards

Appellation: Red Mountain
Owners: Ed and Eve Shaw
Manager: Ed Shaw

Total Acres of vines: 12
Soils: Scooteney series loam
Altitude: 690
Year established: 1997
First vintage used by Brian Carter Cellars: 2007

Varieties sourced: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Characteristics of the wines: Similar to Klipsun, wines with a lot of structure, often a bit more fruit forward. Ed and Eve also own Portrait Cellars and Estate Winery making excellent wines right on the site.
Notes: Eve and Ed own a winery adjacent to the vineyard called Portrait Cellars where they make some great wines from their estate fruit. The labels are original portraits painted by Eve. Both of them are ardent supporters of the Red Mountain AVA.

Upland Vineyards

Appellation: Snipes Mountain
Owners: Newhouse Family
Manager: Todd Newhouse

Total Acres of vines: 900
Soils: Mixed loam, sandy and rocky loam
Altitude (feet): 700 to 1250 feet
Year established: 1917
First vintage for Brian Carter: 2004

Varieties sourced: Viognier, Tempranillo, Graciano, Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinto Cao.
Characteristics of the wines: Well balanced wines with good fruit and consistent ripening.
Notes: Having some of the oldest vines in the state, the Upland Vineyards is still on the forefront. I worked with Todd to plant the Iberian block there where Brian Carter Cellars sources the majority of the fruit for Opulento, our Port style wine. Todd is an enthusiastic supporter of the entire Washington Wine Industry.

Lonesome Springs Ranch

Appellation: Yakima Valley
Owner: Colin Morrell
Manager: Colin Morrell

Total Acres of vines: 80
Soil type: Scootenay silt loam
Altitude (feet): 900 to 1,000 feet
Year established: 1996
First vintage for Brian Carter Cellars: 2007

Varieties sourced: Grenache, Sangiovese, Touriga Nacional, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot
Characteristics of the wines: Lively fruit, moderate structure and good color.
Notes: The sun, soils, wind and viticulture came together here to give Brian Carter Cellars its most consistently good Grenache. Not the easiest grape to grow, the Grenache wines from Lonesome Springs have good color and concentration.

Olsen Vineyards

Appellation: Yakima Valley
Owner: Olsen Family
Vineyard manager: Leif Olsen

Total Acres of vines: 1047
Soils: Warden, Kiona, Burke, Prosser, Starbuck
Altitude (feet): 750 to 1300
Year established: 1980
First vintage used by Brian Carter: 2008

Varieties sourced: Viognier, Roussanne, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Counoise.
Characteristics of the wines: Great Varietal character, well balanced wines.
Notes: Leif does a stupendous job managing this vineyard, which rarely fails to hit the mark. His Roussanne and Viognier are a big part of the success for Oriana.

Chandler Reach Vineyards

Appellation: Yakima Valley
Owner: Len Parris
Vineyard manager: Roberto Palencia

Total acres of vines: 42
Soils: Sandy loam and loess
Altitude: 680 feet
Year established: 1997
First vintage for Brian Carter: 2008

Varieties sourced: Merlot and Cabernet Franc
Characteristics of the wines: Good concentration, balance and dark color.
Notes: This site looks across the Yakima River toward Red Mountain. The Tuscan Villa modeled winery of Chandler Reach Winery, is located on the property where they make an assortment of delicious Estate Wines.

Stillwater Creek Vineyard

Appellation: Columbia Valley
Owner: Alberg Family
Vineyard Manager: Ed Kelly

Year Planted: 2000
First Vintage: 2007

Varieties Sourced: Syrah and Mourvedre
Characteristics of the wines: Food friendly acidity, bright fruit, and intense color.
Notes: This vineyard is our most northerly site, located on the south side of the Royal Slope. A very well managed site, these grapes add a lot of European style to the Byzance.

Dineen Vineyards

Appellation: Rattlesnake Hills
Owner: Patrick Dineen
Manager: Patrick Rawn

Total acres of vines: 65
Soils: Harvard- Burke silt loam and Scoot silt loam, typical depth 18″ to 24″
Altitude: 1140 feet
Year established: 2001
First vintage to Brian Carter Cellars: 2013

Varieties sourced: Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Roussanne
Characteristics of the grapes: Low yields and a moderate to warm site give wines of balance as well as concentration with good varietal focus.
Notes: I have known Pat Dineen for years before he started his vineyard and subsequent winery. Patrick Rawn and his brother own and operate the Two Mountain Winery located nearby. Both Dineen and Two Mountain make excellent wines expressing the terroir of the Rattlesnake AVA.

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