The state of Washington continues to impress as its vines and wine grow and mature. When it comes to Washington state wines the most impressive growing regions is the American Viticultural Area (AVA) known as the Columbia valley, stretching across the state from the Canadian border to Oregon. Within the Columbia valley region, near the center, is a newly recognized AVA called the Wahluke Slope.
The Native Americans who first settled in the area referred to this region as "Wahluke" meaning "watering place". But to wine markers, this roughly 81,000-acre region features more than 20 vineyards, one winery and two wine production facilities, with plans for several new winery openings in the near future.
One of the new facilities currently under construction belongs to the Desert Wind winery. Since the early 1990's, the Fries and Jenkins families have been growing grapes and producing wines in the valleys of northern Oregon and the slopes of eastern Washington, with a total of 820 acres under cultivation. Both families are closely involved in every aspect of wine production ensuring the quality of their wines represents the passions of their family. They established the Desert Wind winery in 2001.
My first introduction the work of Desert Wind winery was an intense blend of reds called Ruah. The wine is a blend of Merlot (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (29%) and Cabernet Franc (25%). Each variety is aged separately in oak for one year to allow each variety’s character to develop before the final blend. The blend is then aged an additional year to allow the components to meld completely. The resulting wine of intense fruit is elegant and complex. Dark and dense in the glass, the wine is spicy showing characteristics of toasted oak, herbal notes and plenty of fruit, backed up by a rich, heavily tannic finish.
Ruah is the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, or it can mean the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure the Desert Wind Ruah is quiet “holy” but for under $20 it is a wine I would be willing to enjoy again.