We talk a lot about the passion for wine and the stories behind the wine makers. Mike Andrews shares not only his passion for wine but the essential ingredients that create that wine: farming, family and God. On the way back from the Wine Bloggers Conference of North America, (WBC10), we had the pleasure of spending the entire day with Mike Andrews as he offered us a tour of his winery and vineyards and shared the stories behind them both.
Via Coyote Canyon Winery, two labels are produced the Coyote Canyon and the Horse Heaven Estates Reserve. The most well known of their wines are the award winning Albariño. This stunning white wine has won Gold at the Seattle Wine Awards for the last two years. This Washington Albariño is a bit sweeter than the typical Spanish Albariño but not overly sweet. I think it has just enough sweetness to make it a stellar wine for pairing with spicy dishes. It was a big hit when poured last night for food and wine students at the Northwest Wine Academy.
Coyote Canyon line offers wines that are budget and food friendly like their Downtown White and Red wines that retail for only $12 to the more sophisticated Mouvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon that sell for only $22. The 2004 Sangiovese is only $14. This Washington Sangiovese was named an Oustanding Best Buy by Wine Press Northwest .
Horse Heaven Estates Reserve is the premium wine label. These wines are bigger, bolder and full of character. The 2007 Big John Cabernet is as big as the bull it was named after and is a good wine choice when pairing with a big and robust dish for your table.
Watch for Ed’s upcoming post on the extensive barrel tasting that day. We will also be posting additional write ups about some of the other Coyote Canyon wines and links to some of our food pairings.
You can purchase wines at the winery or check their listing of retail locations.
Relatively new to the wine making industry, the first vintage was 2004, Mike Andrews is no stranger to the wine grape growing industry. As partner and Vineyard Manager for Coyote Canyon Vineyards, oversees the viticulture of grapes for about 30 different Northwest wineries. On 1135 acres of land in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, they grow 26 different grape varietals for some of the best wineries in Washington, in addition to the grapes reserved for their own labels. Some of their more unique grape varietals include:
- Juan Garcia
Growing grapes for award winning wines since 1994, this land has a rich prior agricultural history. Before grapes, cattle was Mike’s passion. His abiding love for cattle is evident not only in the decor of the tasting room but on the Horse Heaven Estate Reserve labels which feature pictures of family as ranchers or one of their prize steer.
This farmland was dry and desert like before they drilled their first well in 1953. That was what enabled them to grow wheat and other irrigated crops through out the years. Slowly wine grapes replaced the other crops starting in 1994 with Cabernet Sauvignon. The last of the asparagus was pulled out in 2002 and now Mike exclusively grows wine grapes on the land he partners with his father.
George’s son in law, Bob Andrews helped George dig that first well. An award winning cattleman, Bob instilled a life long love of the land into his children. Mike’s siblings also farm the land. It was his brother, Rob Andrews that first started growing grapes in 1980 on the land which has evolved into the 2000 acres McKinley Springs vineyard. Mike’s brother in law Doug Rowell is the wine maker at McKinley Springs and his sister Sandy works there as well. We had the pleasure of meeting Sandy when Mike took us over to their winery. How many wine makers will drive you to another winery?
Mike’s love of cattle kept him out of grapes initially but impressed and intrigued by his sibling’s success he started growing wine grapes with his father in 1994. His son, Jeff Andrews has been working part time with his father and will be moving into the Coyote Canyon wine maker position shortly.
All farmers are aware of the power and intrigue of nature. For Mike Andrews, that beauty and potential is attributed to God. He is as passionate about his faith as he is the land and it is important to him and his family to acknowledge their gratitude. Towering over the vineyards, visible for miles, are three crosses.
Grapes and religion have a long and integrated history. The crosses might be a determent to some, but maintaining faith and integrity are more important than a few missed sales to the Andrews family. They do not force their faith, we had to ask about the crosses, but neither do they hide it. The three crosses also appear on the Albariño label.
To the Andrews, their faith is as basic as the sun setting in the west. It is part of their respect for the seasons, the weather and the cycle of life. The symbol of their faith, the three crosses, also represents the importance of family and how elements work together to create a whole that more than the sum of its parts. It is the family that works the land to grow the grapes and craft the wine. That wine may be enjoyed at a simple dinner or be part of one of life’s celebrations. It is not a beverage, it is a way of life for the Andrews.