Sandhill Winery was founded in 1998 by the Dingethal family. The winery, located in Benton City, Washington in the Red Mountain AVA, focused on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Gris. Red Mountain Vineyards (RMV), which surrounds the winery and provided Sandhill’s estate fruit, was planted more than 20 years ago. Peter Hedges served as Sandhill’s winemaker.Peter’s brother Tom owns neighboring Hedges Family Estate where the Sandhill wines were produced and where Peter also serves as winemaker.

In January of 2008, Michael Corliss and Lauri Darneille, whose portfolio includes Corliss Estates and the recently launched Tranche Cellars, acquired Sandhill. The surrounding Red Mountain Vineyards, the legal owner of the winery, had previously been acquired in the summer of 2007. Corliss and Darneille plan to rebrand the winery as RMV Cellars. The winery’s inaugural release is slated for the spring of 2010. As with the other wineries in their portfolio, RMV Cellars will operate independently and focus on its estate program with Kendall Mix overseeing winemaking operations.

Since purchasing the winery and vineyard, Corliss and Darneille have made substantial changes. The winery’s building will now include a production facility. Additionally, significant investments have been made in improving the vineyard. The tasting room is expected to re-open in 2010 as the new wines are released.

Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle and a Portland, Oregon-area retailer purchased the entire supply of Sandhill’s remaining 2004 Cabernet and 2003 Merlot (tasting notes below). Sandhill’s wines were always moderately priced for the Red Mountain AVA and provided an excellent Quality to Price Ratio (QPR). However, with the sale of the winery, these wines are now on closeout and represent the Washington wine bargain of 2009. Looking to 2010, RMV’s exceptional fruit sources in the hands of this ownership team provide something to look forward to.

Note: For those outside the Seattle-area, Esquin will ship these wines provided your home state is a legal “ship to” state for Washington (I won’t even begin to try to explain this here; inquire when you contact the store).

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Tranche Cellars Chardonnay 2006

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Tranche Cellars Pinot Gris 2006

See Wine Peeps take on the 2003 Sandhill Merlot here.







Sandhill Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2004

A compelling nose with earth, dust, and powdered cocoa sprinkled over rich black cherries. Floral notes step forward and back. A big, thick, chewy wine that is tacky on the tongue and has a dose of cranberry right toward the finish. Throwing lots of sediment. A European-styled wine that is not unlike a Bordeaux with a heaping of cherries. An impressive effort.

Purchased at Esquin Wine Merchants for $9.99



Sandhill Merlot Red Mountain 2003

On first pour, the smell of smoke right after the campfire has gone out. As the wine opens, loganberries, violets, and cherries emerge along with a whiff of black licorice which grows in power over time. A rich, gripping wine that is tart and puckering on the palate. Packed with tannins and throwing lots of sediment. Light herbal notes and sweet oak spices show through as the wine continues to open. More restrained on the fruit than the cabernet and, of the two, I would give a slight edge to the cabernet.

Purchased at Esquin Wine Merchants for $9.99