Côte Bonneville in Yakima Valley was established in 1992 when Hugh and Kathy Shiels pulled out an apple orchard on their property and replanted it with grapes. The 45-acre DuBrul vineyard is at 1,200 feet, steep, south-facing and rocky. Besides supplying grapes for Côte Bonneville wines, the vineyard is a source for many Washington producers, including Betz, DeLille and Woodward Canyon. The Shiels’ daughter Kerry is winemaker for their own label, and the estate makes a range of wines from Cabernet Sauvignon blends and Syrah to Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc Rosé. Both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator have given ratings in the mid-90s to the estate’s wines.
Yakima Valley AVA was the first AVA created in Washington State. The valley, a 600,000-acre area in south central Washington, was granted AVA status in 1983. In 1984 Columbia Valley was given AVA status, and Yakima Valley was enclosed within the Columbia Valley AVA. Nevertheless, Yakima Valley remains home to the largest concentration of vineyards and wineries in the state. There are more than 60 wineries and some 16,000 vineyard acres, and nearly 40% of Washington wines are made with Yakima Valley grapes. The most frequently planted grape is Chardonnay, followed by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaking here dates to 1869, when a winemaker from Alsace planted grape vines. Vineyard planting and wine production plodded along slowly until the early 1980s when numerous modern pioneers started making well-reviewed Yakima Valley wines. Some of the state’s newest, most closely watched appellations, including Red Mountain AVA and Horse Heaven Hills AVA, are contained within Yakima Valley.