Red Mountain

Featured on March 8, 2023

Where: “Red Mountain has the perfect everything for growing thick-skinned, small, berry-sized Merlot,” says winemaker Shae Frichette, speaking of the Columbia Valley sub-appellation where she makes her home. As the smallest and warmest growing region in the state, the place is also known for outstanding Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fruit for Frichette Winery‘s Merlot grows on a southwest-facing slope, basking in prolonged sunlight to achieve robust ripeness. Cool night temperatures offer a nice acidity, explains Shae, while “low rainfall gives us the opportunity to practice water management, which contributes to grape ripeness, lack of sugar dilution, canopy management, and flavor development.”

"Red Mountain has the perfect everything for growing thick-skinned, small, berry-sized Merlot."

Who: A native of South Carolina, Shae  had moved out to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career when she met her future husband and business partner, Greg. In 2011, the two dreamers packed up and moved to Benton City, Washington, to launch their winery, where Shae is co-owner and assistant winemaker. Since, she has also established a second label, Sashay Wines.

How: Due to its extended sunlight exposure, this Merlot fruit is normally the first red wine grape that Frichette brings into their production facility. After destemming, they inoculation process, followed by twice-a-day punchdowns. Once the sugar has fermented, they press the wine off the skins and transfer it into French oak barrels, where it ages for 18-24 months.

Why: This opulent, downright delicious Merlot serves not only as an ideal introduction to an often overlooked appellation, but as a perfect entrée to a dynamic and growing winery.

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