Woodinville’s Avennia has purchased Tapteil Vineyard on Red Mountain, one of Washington’s premier appellations. The sale includes 45 acres, a small winery and tasting room, and a residential property.
“We’ve been working with Red Mountain fruit since we started,” says Marty Taucher, co-owner of Avennia. “This fit our profile – old vines from a unique site.”
In addition to now having its first estate vineyard, Avennia plans to open a tasting room at the former Tapteil Winery in spring of 2022.
“It creates an opportunity for us to really be part of the Red Mountain community and participate in the excitement of that,” Taucher says. Plans for the small production facility at the winery have not yet been determined.
Tapteil is among the oldest vineyards on Red Mountain. It was established by Larry Pearson, who purchased the property in 1984.
“I was looking for the perfect site for Cabernet Sauvignon,” Pearson says. Grower Scott Williams of Kiona Winery & Vineyards tipped Pearson off to a piece of land for sale down the road from Kiona.
“I called the number on the board and asked if I could camp out that night on the property,” Pearson recalls. “The next day I signed the papers.”
Pearson planted the first 3.5 acres of grape vines in 1985, staying in his tent as he did so. He subsequently bought adjacent land, expanding the property to 45 acres, approximately 21 of which are currently planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. In 1999, Pearson founded Tapteil Winery, with ‘Tapteilmin’ the Native American word for people who lived along the nearby, narrow portion of the Yakima River.
Over the decades, Tapteil fruit has gone into some of Washington’s best wines, including multiple 100-point vintages of Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (all fruit for this wine now comes from Horse Heaven Hills). Cadence, Tamarack, Long Shadows, and others have also purchased Tapteil fruit, with Cadence long making a vineyard designated bottle.
With harvest fast approaching, Pearson will continue to manage the site for the time being. Taucher notes there will be no changes this year for wineries that source fruit from Tapteil.
“We are fully committed to honoring all the agreements, both oral and written, for this year’s harvest.”
Going forward, Avennia will continue to sell some fruit and use the rest for its Avennia and Lydian wines. The winery currently sources Red Mountain fruit from Klipsun and Heart of the Hill Vineyards for its Gravura and Justine wines respectively. It also receives fruit from nearby WeatherEye Vineyard for Liminal Wine, a project launched in 2020 that was the Washington Wine Report Winery of the Year. Taucher says Tapteil fruit will not be used for Liminal.
“We remain fully committed to only using WeatherEye fruit in the Liminal Wine project.” Starting in 2022, grower Dick Boushey will manage Avennia’s new estate vineyard.
“There’s no doubt that it’s a unique terroir on that mountain,” says Avennia co-owner and winemaker Chris Peterson. “I can’t wait to work with Dick and really kind of dial in the vineyard.”
More than three and a half decades since he planted his first vines, Pearson is proud of what the vineyard has accomplished. He is also “thrilled” that the site will be in good hands.
“It’s been a good ride,” Pearson says. “We found the perfect people to buy it.” METIS, a merger and acquisitions advisory firm that focuses on the adult beverage and hospitality industries, was the sole transaction advisor.
Pearson and his wife Jane will continue to own the Tapteil name. They plan to continue making a small amount of wine using fruit from a separate property.
“We’re not leaving wine country by any means,” Pearson says. “This is what we call home.”
Photo of Tapteil Vineyard by Richard Duval.