Horsepower is an offshoot of Cayuse, the Walla Walla domaine founded by Christophe Baron, a French vigneron who has been making highly-acclaimed Rhone-style wines in Walla Walla Valley since the 1990s. The name Horsepower is not metaphorical. Starting in 2008 Baron began farming several acres of his estate using Belgian draft horses rather than tractors. Baron descends from a long line of French vignerons, and from the beginning he has farmed his Walla Walla vineyards bio dynamically. He took his interest in traditional French vineyard management a step further when he brought in his first draft horse, Zeppo. In 2009 he added a second horse, Red. With custom made cultivation equipment the horses can navigate tightly-spaced vineyards that harken back to planting systems of 19th century French vineyards. Horsepower owns four vineyards which are planted, with Rhone varietals. Horsepower wines have been very well reviewed.
Walla Walla Valley AVA likes to call itself the Napa Valley of Washington, and given the concentration of well-reviewed wineries in the appellation, the comparison is understandable. The Walla Walla appellation is comprised of 340,000 acres, of which 1,200 acres are vineyards. Walla Walla is located in the southeastern corner of Washington and it extends slightly into northeastern Oregon. It is named after the Walla Walla River Valley, and the city of Walla Walla is the commercial center of Washington’s wine industry. The city was founded in the 1840s by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a trading post, but as early as the 1850s farmers were planting grapes for winemaking. Prohibition shuttered winemaking in the early 20th century, but a winemaking renaissance started in the 1970s when Leonetti Cellars, still one of the state’s most acclaimed wineries, started producing acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon. Walla Walla’s AVA status was awarded in 1984 and today there are more than 100 wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most frequently planted grape, followed by Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese Chardonnay and Viognier.
This grape is grown in milder climates and produces a medium-to full-bodied wine. It is also known as Shiraz, but should not be confused with Petit Sirah, which was developed by crossing Syrah with Peloursin.