Anyone who knows about Washington state wine should know about Red Willow Vineyard. It’s where wine pioneer Mike Sauer planted his first vineyard in 1971. It’s where Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in 1973 are still in production. It’s where the first production of Syrah grapes in the state took place in 1988. It’s where the superb grapes are carefully tended and made into excellent wines at Columbia Winery and many others. And it’s where, we discovered last weekend, one of the nicest and most knowledgeable wine families in Washington state live.
Mike Sauer and his son Jonathan humbly refer to themselves as farmers. And indeed they are farmers, and mighty fine ones. But they are also both artisans of grape growing. And they have a joyous spirituality about their work that is evidenced in this quote by Mike on the Red Willow Web site:
“In farming there is no substitute for the soil, water, and hard work. Inherently, the nature of farming brings a spiritual dimension to our efforts. There is a connection of past, present, and future generations.
For us wine brings the soil, the site, the season, and the efforts of many people together into a single vintage. Later that vintage becomes a cherished memory of that year.”
We had the fortune and the honor to meet Mike, his wife Karen and Jonathan Sauer and to visit Red Willow Vineyard over the weekend with Columbia Winery’s Cellar Club. I will be writing several posts over the next few weeks about the experience, the grapes, the terroir and the incredible story of the Sauer family and Red Willow Vineyard.