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Washington Winery Spotlight: Hogue Cellars

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Washington Winery Spotlight: Hogue Cellars

Hogue Cellars

Back in 1982, when brothers, Gary and Mike Hogue, started Hogue Cellars in Washington’s Yakima Valley, it was the state’s 19th bonded winery. Today Washington is home to over 650 wineries and produces a collective 20 million gallons of wine per year. As time would tell, the Hogue Cellar's adventure, that began over 25 years ago, exploded into one of Washington’s most influential and quality-driven wine companies.

Gary Hogue contends that the number one reason that Hogue Cellars really took off after their third year in business, with a production of 20,000 cases, was the innate quality of Washington's fruit. When you marry high quality grapes with fair pricing it is a recipe for success and extremely attractive to the consumer. What keeps the fruit quality at such high levels? For one thing, Washington does not waste vineyard space on inexpensive blending grapes to keep pricing down and ultimately dilute the wine’s quality. Hogue Cellar’s winemaking philosophy from the start was summed up by Gary Hogue, “Surround yourself with people who know what they are doing, and then do it.” Sounds simple enough and it’s obvious that adherence to this philosophy has paid off with Hogue Cellars now producing 650,000 cases per year and claiming almost 8% of Washington’s wine market volume.

Without a doubt, Hogue Cellar’s primary purpose is to bring high quality Washington wines to the marketplace – showcasing the state’s exceptional fruit quality and depth of grape diversity. This purpose is echoed in their three tiers or price points. The Hogue line, the Genesis series and the Hogue Reserve tier, showcasing the upper-end wines.

Hogue Cellars Wine Tiers:

As a winery determines its product range, year to year consistency is always among the top goals for a vintage. To that end, Hogue Cellars has three quality tiers for their wine offerings: Hogue, Genesis and Hogue Reserve.

Hogue: This is Hogue’s entry-level wine tier, priced at $10 a bottle. You can expect a softer palate profile with bright, fruit-forward flavors, laid-back tannins and food-friendly character. As an added emphasis on quality, the entire Hogue line utilizes screw cap closures to ensure freshness. Wines to try in the Hogue line: The 2008 Hogue Cellars Gewurztraminer delivers the spicy aromatics and orange blossom that this grape is known and grown for, along with citrus and lychee on the palate. The 2007 Hogue Cellars Chardonnay has solid fruit, subtle butter and a fuller style than many competitors in this price range. The 2007 Hogue Cellars Merlot offers up solid cherry and cocoa nuances, with ample fruit, a medium-body and a good bit of food-pairing versatility.

Genesis: This line of wines from Hogue Cellars makes up the mid-range offerings and they are typically priced accordingly at $16/bottle. An increased intensity, more structured tannins and added depth and complexity round out this solid line of “go to” wine offerings from Hogue. The grapes that are selected for the Genesis series are sourced from upper-end vineyards with a legacy of producing inspiring wines. Wines to try in the Genesis line: The 2008 Hogue Cellars Genesis Riesling brings vibrant, fresh citrus and stone fruit to the table, with delicious, food-friendly acidity. Washington State is Syrah country, hosting acres and acres of land devoted to this outstanding red wine grape. On that note, consider the 2006 Hogue Cellars Genesis Syrah with plenty of cherry, raspberry and some vanilla spice along with a layer of smokiness. The 2007 Hogue Cellars Genesis Unoaked Chardonnay offers unfettered fruit character, clean and unmistakably clear. Or give the 2006 Hogue Cellars Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon a go - you'll find a fairly full-bodied red wine with abundant blackberry and cherry on the palate mixed with clove and a dash of mocha.

Hogue Reserve: This line of wine provides consumers with a striking, high-end wine, free from the expected “high-end” price (plan to pay $22-30). Only grapes from the highest quality vineyards and regions are used to create the Reserve wines. These wines over deliver on both intensity and character complexity, and enjoy more concentrated fruit and additional spice from the extended time in oak. The limited production Reserve wines from Hogue are powerful and focused, yet convey the elegance and agility of craft wines. They consistently showcase supple, integrated components and absolute balance. Wines to Try in Hogue's Reserve Tier: The 2005 Hogue Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon crafted from grapes from the Wahluke Slope delivers focused fruit in the form of blackberry and dark cherry. Defined, integrated tannins, a persistent finish and an engaging complexity make this red wine a stand out in the Washington wine lineup. The 2006 Hogue Reserve Chardonnay displays stellar fruit, a touch of butter and a full, creamy finish - fantastic for pairing with Salmon and Halibut. The 2005 Hogue Reserve Merlot is nothing short of delicious from beginning to end. It comes from fruit sourced from the prestigious Wahluke Slope. A recent trip highlight with Hogue Cellars was one minute we're tasting the Merlot grapes right off the vines in the Fries Vineyard, just weeks away from harvest. The next minute we're sipping the same grape's distant cousin - the '05 Reserve Merlot, surrounded by the wine's original vines. All this to say that the Reserve Merlot comes from an exceptional vineyard and exhibits abundant raspberry and cherry fruit along with spicy oak character and super supple tannin structure.

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