DeLille Cellars was founded in 1992 in Woodinville, Washington, by the Lill family, Jay Soloff and Chris Upchurch, who is the winemaker. The family and the founding partners still own and operate the estate, considered one of the best in Washington. The estate makes Bordeaux-style red and white wines under several labels, which are DeLille Cellars, Doyenne and Grand Ciel. The flagship wines include DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate, which is typically 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The Grand Ciel wines are small-production, luxury cuvees that come from the famous Ciel du Cheval Vineyard in the Red Mountain appellation of Eastern Washington. The first Grand Ciel vintage was 2004. Wine Advocate gave the 2005 Grand Ciel 95 pts and called it “opulent.” The Doyenne wines are Rhone-style Syrahs, Roussannes and blends.
Columbia Valley AVA is larger than some states. At 18,000 square miles, or 11 million acres, the appellation covers almost half of Washington State and a small part of Oregon on the south side of the Columbia River. Established in 1984, Columbia Valley contains numerous sub appellations within its boundaries, including Yakima Valley AVA and Walla Walla AVA, both large and important wine districts. Columbia Valley AVA, generally called the Columbia Basin by Pacific Northwesterners, is in the Columbia River Plateau, and the AVA also includes a section of northeastern Oregon. There are dozens of microclimates within this appellation of about 7,000 vineyard acres. Many kinds of grapes are grown in the Columbia Valley, though the principal grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Eastern Washington experiences very hot summers and cold winters, and the northern latitude means that Washington vineyards receive several more hours of sun in the summer than California vineyards. Grapes in Washington therefore have time to develop significant tannins and overall ripeness.