Terroir (French pronunciation: from terre, “ladn”) is the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestow upon wine. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.
Washington State Map of AVA’s (American Viticulture Area)


Our Vineyard Partners:

Boushey Vineyard is a grape-growing estate located in the Yakima Valley AVA, north of Grandview, Washington. Grapes grown in his vineyard have been used to produce some of the most critically acclaimed Washington wines with the name Boushey regularly being featured on vineyard designated wines. The vineyard is owned and managed by viticulturist Dick Boushey who was honored in 2002 by the Washington State Wine Commission as Washington’s “Grower of the Year” and in 2007 by Wine & Spirits as their “Grower of the Year”. Boushey was one of the first Washington wine growers to plant Syrah. Today, Boushey Vineyard is considered by many wine experts to be one of the state’s top Syrah vineyards. Dick has been a friend and teacher to us. Laurelhurst Cellars varietals from Boushey Vineyards include Cabernet Savignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Syrah & Petite Sirah.

Located in Red Mountain AVA, Benton County, Washington, Klipsun Vineyard one of the most celebrated vineyards in the state and, according to Wine & Spirits Magazine in 2003, one of the top 25 in the world. We first met Patricia and David Gelles in 2004 our first year of production. We are so honored that they share in our passion project. Klipsun Vineyard adds strength and depth to our wines. They have become friends and mentors. Laurelhurst Cellars varietals from Klipsun Vineyard include Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot.


Kiona Vineyard & Ranch at the End of the Road – John Williams pioneered Red Mountain and planted Kiona’s first vineyards in 1975 with Jim Holmes. John and Jim were engineers in nearby Richland when their interest in wine and viticulture led them to purchase land on Red Mountain in order to plant a vineyard.

Scott Williams along with his wife Vicky, have lived on Red Mountain since 1984. Scott manages Kiona and its many vineyards on and around Red Mountain. Laurelhurst Cellars varietals from Kiona & Ranch at the End of the Road Vineyards include Cabernet Savignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Syrah.

Located in the heart of the Columbia Plateau, Burgess Vineyard produces award winning grapes. Thanks to geologic developments in the Pasco Basin, large deposits of silt and sandy loam help produce the drainage essential to proper wine grape growing. Laurelhurst Cellars varietals from Burgess Vineyard include Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc.


Zephyr Ridge Vineyard is located on Horse Heaven Hills where part of the vineyard faces north, and part faces south toward the Columbia River. The vineyard is fairly steep, up to a 20-degree slope. We work with Wade Wolfe to make our amazing Petite Sirah. Laurelhurst Cellars varietals from Zephyr Ridge Vineyard include Petite Sirah.

Songbird Vineyard Located on Red Mountain – owned and operated by Jacquie and Dave Stephens. Sister to Larry Pearson of famed Tapteil Vineyard, Songbird produces two Syrah clones (Sara Lee & Phelps) which assist to make our amazing Red Mountain Syrah. Laurelhurst Cellars Varietal from Songbird Vineyard include Syrah.



Below is some great information taken from Washington Wine Org.

The Weather
The weather elements in Washington are important to how wine grapes grow including sun, dry growing season, water, daytime air and soil temperature, diurnal shift, different microclimates, and vital challenges.

The Sun

Great wine grapes need sun to aid in the production of sugars (via photosynthesis), color development and heat accumulation for overall physiological ripening.
How much sun does Washington receive?
While the growing season is slightly shorter from beginning to end than more southerly wine regions, the number of sun hours received in Washington is equal due to incredibly long days at such a high latitude receiving 16 hours of sun at the summer solstice.
There is sun 300 days a year.
The angle of the sun is similar to the great wine regions of Northern Europe, as they share similar latitudes.

Dry Growing Season

Washington is one of the highest latitude wine regions in the world. Similar areas elsewhere tend to be on the cusp of cool, rainy weather in the spring and fall, making viticulture difficult ? especially at sensitive times like harvest. Eastern Washington is dry enough to be categorized as a Continental Semi-Desert. Why?
The majestic north south running Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges in the Western portion of the state combine to stop the clouds rolling in off of the Pacific Ocean – known as a Rain Shadow Effect. Eastern Washington is the highest latitude wine region to experience this phenomenon in the New World (read: not Europe).
Only 7 to 12 inches rain fall in Eastern Washington during the growing season, and 35 to 38 inches in Western Washington.
Common vineyard fungal disease such as oidium (powdery mildew), peronosperal (downy mildew) and grey/black rot require a humid environment. Due to its arid climate, Eastern Washington is remarkably fungus free; as a result, very few chemical based anti-fungicides are required, leading to sustainable vineyard practices that leave vibrant, healthy, lively soils and water sources.


Washington has the good fortune of having incredible water sources to rely on for irrigation in such an arid region. This allows absolute control as to when the vine is given moisture and how much is given, which contributes to grape ripeness, lack of sugar dilution, canopy management and dehydration controls at vital moments during its growth. Growers employ state of the art technology such as Neutron Probes, Troxler Readings and Tensiometers to monitor and apply irrigation when necessary.
Mountain Rivers: The Columbia Basin benefits from snow melt runoff. The massive Columbia River in Eastern Washington is the most obvious example, combining the Cascades, Rockies and Blue Mountains runoff to the 15th largest river in the United States at 1,214 miles in length.
Underground aquifers run through levels of basalt lava flow, and can be tapped via wells for water reservoirs. World class, technologically controlled/timed irrigation systems are utilized to influence the growth of many vineyards.
Drip irrigation is most common, but some overhead spray irrigation also exists.

World Class Wine Growers
The grape growers in Washington State are a progressive community that understands strength in unity, so they use global information sharing and focus on academic study and old fashioned hard work.
To learn more tactics that growers are using in Washington check out all of the Washington State vineyards, or visit wawgg.org to learn more about Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, an entire organization exists that is dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of grapes and growers livelihoods leads.

Daytime Air and Soil Temperature

Consistently warm daytime air and soil temperatures during the growing season are critical to producing the grape varieties that Washington State specializes in, helping with the physiological ripening – including skin color, skin and pulp texture, seed color and texture, tannins and other flavor compounds. Cold (though not freezing ? see ?Vital Issues? at the end of this section) during the winter months are ideal for vine dormancy, allowing the plant to rest and restore.
Average daytime high vineyard air temperatures for June 1 to October 15: 78 degrees Fahrenheit. During the all important August/September months, that climbs slightly higher to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Average daytime high temperatures for December 1 to March 1: 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to allowing proper dormancy, these cold winter temperatures kill many vineyard disease carrying pests such as phylloxera, moths, mites and nematodes. This makes Washington vineyards remarkably pest free. As a result, very few chemical based pesticides are required, leading to sustainable vineyard practices that leave vibrant, healthy, lively soils and water sources.

Diurnal shift: Day to Night Temperature Variability

One of the greatest natural phenomena for growing grapes which end up balanced between ripe sugars (which will equate to alcohol in the wine) and crisp acidity is a difference between day time and night time temperatures ? or, diurnal shift. Washington State has some of the most dramatic fluctuations of any wine region in the world.
There is up to 40? F difference between high day and low night time temps!
Malic Acids generally dissipate through respiration from the grape in constant warm temperatures. Cool evenings preserve the acid, which translate through fermentation to wine and adds freshness and balance.
Resultant acid in the wines is natural ? and seems a bit more integrated than the types added in the winery.

Seasons of Wine
A wine calendar to help you decide when to buy, when to taste, and when to visit.
Planting……………………January – March
Fermenting…………………..August – January
Growing…………………..March – September
Bottling……………………….February – May
Pruning……………………June – September
Celebrating………………….All Year Long
Harvesting………………..August – November

Different Microclimates

Eastern Washington has 14 separate AVA?s covering over 50,000 acres of vineyard land varying from 100 feet above sea level to 1000 above sea level with all degrees of aspect to the sun. There are cool sites, warm sites, wetter sites, windy sites, hilly sites, flat sites?all providing different ripening cycles and styles of wine. Exceptional diversity of grapes grown in the state.

Vital Challenges

Winter Freeze: Eastern Washington faces sustained winter freezes low enough to kill vines to the ground once every 7 years or so. Methods such as layering (planting a living vine below the ground level for protection) are employed to combat this problem.
Global Warming: A fact of life starting in the late 1990?s, this trend looks to continue, challenging existing warmer site areas to practice different canopy training methods, clonal selection and water management. Being in such intense sun, grapes face sun burn in increasingly warmer temperatures ? also controlled by canopy training. Alternative, cooler growing sites are also being explored (whether due to latitude, altitude or aspect).

The Earth
Vines are somewhat choosy about their soils. A combination of lack of nitrogen, strong drainage and healthy organic nutrient matter is a consensus perfect dirt. It may be ?bad?? for growing almost anything else, but it is ?good?? for the vine.

Various Soil

A combination of mostly sandy, rocky based alluvial (meaning carried by water ? see below), some windblown over periodic volcanic basalt lift and patches of clay. Types include loess, basalt, clay, silt, loam, sandy loam.

Ancient Ice Age Floods

Imagine a 300 foot wall of water gushing at up to 80 miles an hour (10 times the strength of all the world?s rivers combined) from a glacial lake just north of Washington/Idaho southwest to the Pacific Ocean. More than 50 times over 2,000 years. It happened here 15,000 years ago! That is what a vast portion of Eastern Washington is ? a dried up river bottom.

Soil Characteristics

Poor Nitrogen Content: In these types of soils, there is a lack of nitrogen, making vines work harder to send other nutrients to the grapes and spending less energy on the foliage.
Excellent Drainage: Grape vines don?t do well with wet roots. Sandy/rocky soils drain water further into the earth. Roots dig deep to find it, working harder still.
Phylloxera Hates Sand: The vine killing aphid, Phylloxera (officially known as DactylasphaeraVitifoliae), cannot travel in sandy soils to reproduce, leaving Washington remarkably free of this global scourge vineyard pest.

Excellent Aspect

To take advantage of the sun exposure in the Northern hemisphere, vineyard managers plant on the slopes of the foothills of basaltic uplifts that form mini-mountain ranges on (generally) East-West axis. Naturally, this also adds to the drainage capabilities for the odd storm in the Columbia Valley.

Vital Challenges

Lack of Organic Nutrients: Eastern Washington?s soils require some fertilizing components, being so nutrient poor. There is a strong presence of organic composts and teas being utilized throughout the state as sustainability and vitality of the soil depends upon them. Chemical fertilizers are growing less and less prevalent.

The Vines
Rootstock and vine age are two important elements when it comes to the health of the plant and taste of the wine.

Own Rootstocks

Eastern Washington is one of the very few world class growing regions on earth that DOES NOT have to graft its vines onto rootstock.
Phylloxera (dactylasphaera vitifolea) is an aphid that damages roots by feeding on them and leaving them prey to disease and nutrient deficiencies – enough to kill the host vine. It exists in 95% of the world?s quality wine regions. As a result, these places must graft the genus Vitis Vinifera vines (which, while they count for every great wine grape in the world like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, are prone to phylloxera) onto another type (or genus) of rootstock such as Vitis Riparia or Vitis Rupestris, which are immune to the pest and able to coexist.
While hard to prove, most wine professionals believe that there is at least some purity of flavor lost in having two different vine types forged together. Washington State doesn?t have to do this! As a result, the wines of Washington are 100% the grape variety planted – and that much more profound for it.

Vine Age

As vines age, more energy gets directed from the early years? establishment of strong roots, trunks and foliage to the grape clusters. Depending on the variety and clone of vine, peak years generally fall between 30 and 60 years of age.
The oldest of Washington?s vines are just entering their 4th decade. If Washington wines are this great now, imagine what will become when the vines mature!