About Us: Vineyards

Hightower Cellars sources fruit from a variety of carefully chosen, skillfully managed vineyards in the Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, and Walla Walla Valley appellations. The combination of warm and moderate climates of the respective sites lend to the elegant complexity of Hightower wines.

Hightower "Out of Line" Estate Vineyard - Red Mountain AVA

Knowing that, if done properly, a grape grower will only plant a particular parcel of land once or twice in a lifetime, Tim and Kelly Hightower conducted research and hired a consultant to help plant the Estate Vineyard on Red Mountain. In 2005, they finished planting 10 acres of vineyard: 6 acres planted with 5 clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2½ acres planted with 4 clones of Merlot, and ½ acres each of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot – with all of the plant material certified to be free of diseases and pests.

Why name it "Out of Line"? There are many decisions to be made when planting a vineyard, but one critical decision is row orientation. Traditionally, vineyard rows are planted north to south for ease of tractor use, but the Hightowers decided to cant their rows eleven degrees off of north-south. This orientation more evenly balances the sun exposure on each side of the vine row, which leads to more even ripening of the grapes and, thus, more balanced wines. They looked at their vineyard compared to their neighbors and exclaimed “We are Out of Line!”

The vineyard is farmed sustainably, using a mechanical cultivator for weed control and minimal amounts of spray – and then only with materials approved by the Salmon-Safe list. Finally, the vineyard is drip irrigated, which conserves water use, does not produce runoff, or erode soils.

Mother Block - Red Mountain AVA

Jackie Hightower, Tim's mom, moved to Red Mountain shortly after we did. She, being a big fan of Côte-Rôtie Syrah, decided to plant 2 of Syrah, Viognier, and Grenache. Her vineyard is affectionately called the "Mother Block".

E & E Shaw Vineyards- Red Mountain AVA

A long, fruitful relationship, the E&E Shaw vineyards were planted in 1995 and the Hightowers started buying fruit from them in 1999. This vineyard lends intense color, concentrated dark fruit, and tannin structure to Hightower wines. Every parcel of Red Mountain is different and contributes nuances to the finished wine, a  greatly to Hightower wines. Most of Red Mountain is covered by Worden Silt Loam, a soil type that retains very little moisture and contains little organic material. Both of these factors cause the vines to struggle tremendously, which channels the vine's energy where it needs to be – in the berries.

Red Willow Vineyard - Yakima Valley AVA

Red Willow Vineyard is the furthest western vineyard within the Yakima Valley AVA. Made up of four distinctive blocks, the vineyard supplies fruit to over 15 wineries across Washington and Oregon. Red Willow is one of the oldest vineyards in the state, with Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in 1973 that are still in production today. Our vines are grown on steep hillsides, with unique formations of soils unlike any other.

The Hightowers started buying grapes from them in 2017, but the relationship is a long story of friendship and respect. Tim and Kelly met the Sauer family when they were working at Columbia Winery. At that point in time, Columbia had a nearly exclusive contract for Red Willow grapes. The Sauers provided much encouragement when the Hightowers told them they were starting their own winery, but knew the grapes wouldn’t be available for them to purchase. Twenty years later, the opportunity arose to actually work together and the Hightowers leapt at the opportunity and purchased fruit from Red Willow’s 1989 planting of Cab Franc. In 2019 they will debut their first Red Willow wine!

The Red Mountain AVA is located on a southwest-facing slope in south central Washington, a three and one-half hour drive from Seattle. At 4040 acres (1,635 hectares), this is the smallest, warmest wine-grape growing region in Washington. It has a unique combination of diverse geology, gentle south slope, consistent winds and notable heat profile. A complex mixture of the most rare and highly valued soil types in Washington was created by wind-blown silt and sand over glacial outflow. The AVA’s red wine grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are highly prized for creating wines of superb concentration and depth, which consistently earn critical acclaim.

Red Mountain AVA