Sagebreaker Red BlendsSagebreaker is a new wine venture from the impressive Trothe dream team at Andrews Family Vineyards in Washington state’s Horse Heaven Hills. When we visited the vineyards last summer, Proprietor Jeff Andrews previewed the new brand: “Inspired by our origin story, these wines are crafted from ground that our great-grandfather, George Smith, broke from sagebrush over 80 years ago.” Jeff kindly shared Sagebreaker’s delicious Bordeaux and Rhône blends with us this month. They will be available in the spring to the Sagebreaker allocation list.

Andrews Family Vineyards

Andrews Family Vineyards The Andrews family has farmed the wild and windswept Horse Heaven Hills for generations. Sagebrush covers large swathes of the very dry land in this region. More than 80 years ago, their great-grandfather, George Smith, spent many arduous days breaking more than 100,000 acres from sagebrush.

Now, the Andrews family is honoring their great-grandfather with the spring release of their second brand, Sagebreaker wines. Their first brand, Trothe, earns widespread applause every year since the initial offering in 2021. So, we are not surprised to find that the Trothe team of innovative managing partner Jeff Andrews; acclaimed winemaker Ray McKee; and extraordinary vineyard manager Todd Chapman succeeded again with Sagebreaker’s first release.

There’s a reason we labelled these three men the “dream team” back in 2022. At that time, we went out for dinner with Ray and Todd, who talked about how they are “living the dream with these dream jobs.” And every one of their wines that we’ve tasted is definitely magical.

Certainly, these two Sagebreaker wines feature the same structure and finesse as Trothe wines. However, Sagebreaker wines are special-occasion luxury wines, compared to Trothe wines aimed at wine collectors.

In addition, Sagebreaker features more oak than Trothe. But no worries. Ray integrated the oak so well that it subtly enhances the flavors.

Further, Jeff explained: “Sagebreaker wines express our site and the Horse Heaven Hills through luxury, fruit-driven blends aged in 100% new French Oak. They are designed to be incredibly delicious and approachable at a young age, but will also evolve nicely for years to come.”

Sagebreaker 2021 Rhône Blend ($68)

Rhone Blend 2021We immediately noticed the spicy and bright aromas and flavors in this classic Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah and a touch of Mourvèdre. First, Grenache brings the spice notes and flavors of berries. Next, Syrah adds layers of dark fruit and black pepper to the blend. Finally, a splash of Mourvèdre creates more structure and weight. Together, this is a striking wine to open on any special occasion. We paired it with barbecued steaks on Valentine’s Day.

Jeff noted that “the greats of Côte-Rôtie inspired this wine, which also has all the freshness and intensity that the Horse Heaven Hills is famous for.”

According to Ray, “The 2021 vintage was co-fermented with 8% whole-cluster and extended skin contact to extract deep color and rich, creamy tannins.” He said fermentation in Italian concrete lent itself to a fresh, vibrant wine. Meanwhile, aging for 18 months in 100% new French oak “rounded out the palate and contributed layers of complex aromatics and flavors.”

The intense heat in 2021 created a light crop across Washington state. Jeff said their Syrah production was approximately half of that in 2020.

Sagebreaker 2021 Bordeaux Blend ($84)

Sagebreaker Bordeaux Blend 2021For this Bordeaux blend, Ray combined 75% Cabernet Sauvignon with 25% Merlot in a mix of Italian and French concrete. He then aged it for 22 months in 100% new French oak. The oak brings a pretty nose of cedar, smoke and spice to the Cab-Merlot blend. On the palate, we found heavy, dense flavors of dark red fruit and plums, with hints of cassis and chocolate. What a spectacular combination of these two classic and complementary grape varieties.

This Cab-Merlot blend is very approachable now, with decanting. Or put it away for a few years so it can evolve further. Serve it with a hearty winter stew, a savory roast or mushroom dishes. Or simply open it to celebrate any special occasion.

Summary: Sagebreaker

In conclusion, the new Sagebreaker wines from the remarkable Trothe team honor Jeff Andrews’ great-grandfather, their original sagebreaker. Thank you so much, Jeff, for giving us a sneak peek at these magnificent bottles.

Trothe will release Sagebreaker wines this spring. Here’s how you can join the allocation list.

Meanwhile, find us on Instagram and Facebook. And of course, here, at Write for Wine – It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere.

Margot and Dave