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Vineyards

The Jones of Washington Vineyards along the
Columbia River are where our wines all begin.
 

Ancient Lakes AVA

When Ancient Lakes became the state's latest American Viticultural Area in late 2012, the designation served as official notice that this region along the cliffs of the Columbia River in Eastern Washington is one special grape-growing area.

One can point to the Ancient Lakes' unique soils, elevations and cooler climate as the reason behind that distinction.

The soil is full of minerals, and coupled with air flow from the mighty Columbia, produces grapes with a character found nowhere else. That, in turn, results in wines that are more crisp and acidic than wines made from grapes grown in other areas. 

“The caliche soils really gives our white wines that minerality we like,” says Allan Williams, sales and marketing director for Jones of Washington wines.

Another factor are the elevation levels of the vineyards.

"That makes it cooler at night, which helps retain the acidity," says Greg Jones, who manages the vineyards for the family-owned winery.

Jones of Washington is one of just a handful of wineries that harvest grapes from vineyards in Ancient Lakes, a scenic and sprawling 162,762-acre area in Grant, Douglas and Kittitas counties. Jones owns three vineyards in the AVA: Two Guns, Trinidad and Lauzier.

Jones' award-winning Riesling, Pinot Gris, Rosé of Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc all come from grapes grown in this AVA.

All of Jones' grapes grow on own-rooted vines. Drip irrigation is used in all the vineyards.

As for the name, the Ancient Lakes moniker comes from a series of small lakes — 35 in all — that were formed by Ice Age floods more than 12,000 years ago. The flood waters stripped away the soil, leaving just scablands behind. Over the ensuing centuries, however, wind deposited sand in the area and soil began accumulating. When water from the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project became reality in the early 1950s, farms quickly popped up and the region became known as one of the most fertile, productive crop growing areas in the nation. Today, it continues to produce large quantities of potatoes, beans, onions, apples, wheat, alfalfa and other crops.

The climate on the ridges along the Columbia River also varies. Average temperature change between the high and low spots is typically two degrees, which is a big difference during a long growing season. As a result, many grape varieties can be grown in the AVA.

That same spectacular scenery — cliffs jutting straight out of the Columbia, desolate scablands and basalt rock outcroppings above — often evokes comparisons to the Grand Canyon, and provides another attraction for visitors, already drawn by the region's great wines.

While various grapes can be grown at Ancient Lakes, the area is best known for its white grapes — in particular its Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Indeed, many connoisseurs say no one produces a better, more crisp Riesling than Quincy and George.

"We've won many awards from the white wines we make from these vineyards," says Williams.

Jones vineyards in the Ancient Lakes AVA

TWO-GUN VINEYARD
Summary: Located on the Beasly Hills northeast of Quincy. This is a gentle uniform sloping site on a south-facing slope.
Varietals: White Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Syrah
Planted: 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013
Elevation: 1,500 feet
Soil: Shallow silt loam soil, 6 to 18 inches deep, over a Caliche Hardpan.
Climate: Desert conditions, but fewer heat units due to elevation and northern location.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 5-feet apart, with 7-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

TRINIDAD
Summary: Located above the Columbia River, just north of Crescent Bar.
Varietals: Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Malbec.
Planted: 1999
Elevation: 1,040 feet
Soil: Sandy loam
Climate: Desert conditions
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 3-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

LAUZIER
Summary: Located on the Beasly Hills northeast of Quincy. This is a gentle uniform sloping site on a south-facing slope.
Varietals: Riesling, Chardonnay
Planted: 2010, 2011
Elevation: 1,750 feet
Soil: Shallow silt loam soil, 6 to 18 inches deep, over a Caliche Hardpan.
Climate: Desert conditions
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 5-feet apart, with 7-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.


Wahluke Slope AVA

Jones of Washington wines come from grapes grown in two American Viticultural Areas — Wahluke Slope and Ancient Lakes. Interestingly, although these AVAs are only 25 miles from each other, they are worlds apart viticulturally. Wahluke Slope is one of the warmest spots in Eastern Washington wine country, while Ancient Lakes is considered one of the coolest. Wahluke Slope is known for its intensely flavored red wine grapes likes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while Ancient Lakes' reputation is built around its white grapes such as Riesling and Chardonnay.

"It's one of the warmest growing regions in the state and one of the more coveted areas," says Greg Jones, who manages the winery's vineyards.

In 1997, the Jones family began planting wine grapes on Wahluke Slope — an area bounded on the west and southern ends by the Columbia River, on the north by the Saddle Mountains and on the east by the Hanford Reach National Monument. The benches along the Columbia River had been home to large orchards — and excellent apple crops — since 1968, when water from the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project finally reached the area. And the dusty desert sand, hot summer heat and generally south-facing slopes proved to be just as hospitable to vineyards.

All of Jones' grapes grow on own-rooted vines. Drip irrigation is used in all the vineyards.

Wahluke — a Native American name for "watering place" — has two different soil types that lend themselves to several grape varieties. The Ice Age floods of more than 12,000 years ago had deposited sandy loam on lower elevations and silky loam and calcium-rich soil on higher shelves. The sandy soil requires lots of water, but grapes take far less water than other crops.

The high temperatures and low precipitation also allows growers to control vine vigor and ripening through small, carefully timed waterings from drip systems.

It wasn't long after the first vineyards were planted that grapes from the Wahluke became known as some of the best in the state. In 2006, the area become the state’s eighth federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA).

“No other AVA in Washington state is contained on a single land form with large areas of uniform sandy and gravelly soils over a large area," says Alan Busacca, a soil scientist and geologist who spearheaded the AVA petition in partnership with the Wahluke Slope Wine Grape Growers Association. "The fact that the area has one of the driest, warmest climates in the state makes Wahluke Slope an ideal place for growing wine grapes.”

Today, grapes from the vineyards — about 30 percent of the state’s wine grape acreage — go to many of the state’s big and small wineries. Although the first plantings in the region began with white varietals such as Riesling, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, red wine grapes now make up 80 percent of total acreage, dominated by Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Jones vineyards in the Wahluke Slope

UNIT 7 VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a south-facing slope just outside of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay. Note: Jones of Washington considers Unit 7 possibly its best red wine grape site.
Planted: 1997
Elevation: 850 to 900 feet
Soil: Sandy loam soil, 18 inches to 24 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system. Jones of Washington acreage is thinned to 3 to 4 tons per acre to help the vines create grapes with ripe flavors.

UNIT 9 VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a south-facing slope just outside of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Franc. Note: Although Sangiovese is not known for having much tannin or color, this site creates a Sangiovese with tannin and color.
Planted: 1997
Elevation: 800 to 850 feet
Soil: Loamy Sand soil, 18 inches to 24 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system. Jones of Washington acreage is thinned to 3 to 4 tons per acre to help the vines create grapes with ripe flavors.

UNIT 10 VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a southwest-facing slope just outside of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Viognier, Petite Syrah
Planted: 2001
Elevation: 800 to 850 feet
Soil: Loamy sand soil, 24 inches to 36 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

UNIT 11A VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a south-facing slope 5 miles east of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Cabernet, Merlot, White Riesling
Planted: 1998, 1999 (In 2005, 17 acres of Cabernet were grafted to White Riesling)
Soil: Some areas of loam but mostly sandy loam soil, 18 inches to 36 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

UNIT 11B VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a south-facing slope east of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Varietals: Cabernet, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Roussanne and Marsanne.
Planted: 2007
Soil: Some areas of loam but mostly sandy loam soil, 18 inches to 36 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

UNIT 20 VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a south-facing slope east of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Malbec and Carménère
Planted: 2010
Soil: Some areas of loam but mostly sandy loam soil, 18 inches to 36 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

UNIT 26 VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard is located on a south-facing slope east of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Cabernet, Merlot
Planted: 2013
Soil: Some areas of loam but mostly sandy loam soil, 18 inches to 36 inches deep, over a gravelly caliche layer.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.

UNIT 37 VINEYARD
Summary: This vineyard, also known as the "Broken Pick Vineyard," is located on a west-facing slope about one mile southwest of the town of Mattawa on the Wahluke Slope.
Varietals: Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet
Planted: 1998
Soil: The soil in this vineyard is Jones of Washington's most well drained soil. The soil is mainly a coarse loamy sand with areas of blow sand. Soil ranges from 12 inches to 24 inches deep.
Vine crop management: Vines are planted 6-feet apart, with 8-foot rows. Training system is a bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning system.