The Life of a Grape

Published by Anna Von Bertele on 05/07/2017

Anna imagines the life of a grape in the Hedges Family Estate vineyard: Part 1

From my spot in Hedges Family Estate’s vineyard, high up here on the mountain in Washington State, I can see the pickers already busy at work, racing through the vines, choosing the best of us. It’s been a long hot summer, so we’re ready earlier than usual, but I'm feeling pretty good – the cool evenings are always so refreshing to balance out my sugars and stop me feeling too bloated.

Some of my neighbours have already been chosen; up on Red Mountain we take a bit longer. My Chardonnay friends in Yakima Valley in south-central Washington were picked last week, as their winemakers wanted to keep freshness and not over-ripen those grapes, to maintain the balance of acidity with alcohol levels.

They say my Red Mountain appellation is included in the Yakima Valley AVA, but we know we're special here. It was Christophe Hedges' father, Tom, who mapped out our special plot in 2001. It's the most special place with the best views all around; I'm so glad I'm going to be a Hedges wine.

We're the smallest appellation in Washington State at 1630 hectares and the warm temperatures here are perfect conditions for us to make full bodied, complex wine. The breeze from the nearby Yakima River helps cool us down too, so we don't taste too tannic. Our soils are pretty great - sandy loam and gravel with a rich calcium carbonate content. I shouldn't boast about my conditions though - the whole state is pretty special really.

It all started with the Missoula Floods. These happened about 13,000 years ago, but people still go on about them. Apparently floods the size of Lake Michigan discharged into eastern Washington, submerging all land up to 1200 feet above sea level. They bought sediments, sand and silt, which were deposited across the region, enriching our land and making irrigation simple because water can move easily, but not too rapidly, through the soil. It is all down to these ecological events that I grow so healthy and strong today.

As a Cabernet Sauvignon grape, I'm Washington State's most produced red variety, though the state's not defined by one grape. My most common friends are Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling. I know I'm a popular one though - delicious on my own or in blends.

I've heard about my European cousins, how famous we are in a place called Bordeaux. They say our winemakers are inspired by this place and make the same style blends. But I hear that in Bordeaux the best ones are incredibly expensive - here we're actually very affordable and offer high quality and value. I'm already thinking about my final destination; I fancy being poured at a London restaurant. And rumour has it this is a possibility… a company called Roberson Wine apparently likes our wines and distributes them around the UK.

I don't believe it, I was daydreaming and didn't realise he’s approaching me…. It's finally happening, I’ve been chosen!

Part 2 to follow

Anna Von Bertele

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