Avennia at Red Mountain Estate

Posted on Nov 22, 2023


We have been to more wine tasting rooms around the world than we can count.

Red Mountain Washington winery

Avennia Red Mountain tasting room.

Some are functional, simply providing a sample of new & library releases for purchase. Others are an extension of an estate winery offering up vineyard views and world-class chefs to enhance the overall tasting experience. And finally, there are those that offer up something experiential—sometimes related to wine, sometimes not—as added incentive to entice visitors; think art galleries, Formula 1 racing simulators, and even an ice rink (in Canada of course!).

For us, the wine is always our priority. Even better if we can sip those wines at the vineyards where the fruit has been sourced. In the case of Avennia’s tasting room at Red Mountain, its wines, views, and talented staff have put it among our very favourite stops when visiting Washington wine country.

winemaker chris peterson

Chris Peterson.

Chris Peterson co-founded Avennia with his friend and fellow wine enthusiast, Marty Taucher. Chris was the former winemaker at DeLille Cellars, another Washington icon, and among the old guard of Washington wine. Marty, a former Microsoft executive and early-stage venture capitalist turned ‘cellar rat’, gets involved in the business aspects of the winery.

Avennia takes its name from the ancient Roman word for the city Avignon, in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of Southern France.

Red Mountain winery

Stunning views at the estate.

It’avennias an homage to the traditions of Old World winemaking. They produce a rosé, 2 whites and 5 different reds, all with purchased grapes from contracted vineyards located in the southern part of the state. These vineyards work in tandem with Chris to deliver him the grapes that he wants to express his winemaking ideals. These are some of the very top vineyards in the state: Boushey, Kiona, Red Willow, Upland, and Champoux. Peterson wanted these vineyards because of the age of their fruit; at up to 30 years+ they have become some of the oldest vines in the state producing more complex flavours.

Red Mountain winery

Estate Manager Eli Traverse.

Avennia produces balanced wines that express not only the vineyards they originate from, but they also express Chris’ ideal of traditional winemaking. He’s very influenced by the winemaking traditions that have been handed down through generations in France’s Bordeaux and Rhône regions. As the tasting notes below will show, these are exceptional wines, among the very best in the state, that offer complexity, balance, new world fruit and structure, that reflect a respect for old world winemaking tradition.

In August 2021, Chris and Marty took ownership of the former Tapteil vineyard from Larry & Jane Pearson, along with its tasting room and on-site residence situated on Red Mountain, making it Avennia’s first estate vineyard.

wine grower

Dick Boushey.

Renowned grower Dick Boushey continues to oversee the vineyard which was originally planted in 1984 to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

They opened the Avennia tasting room at Red Mountain estate in May of 2022 but continue to produce their wines, along with maintaining their original tasting room, in Woodinville.

The tasting room at Red Mountain is perfectly situated perched on the hillslope with sweeping views of Red Mountain, their estate vineyard, and the numerous neighbouring vineyards surrounding them.

Red Mountain winery

Sunset at Red Mountain.

Facing due west, it provides the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy Washington’s stunning sunsets.

As luck would have it, we visited the tasting room on the same day Avennia hosted its last “First Friday” event of the season. It just so happens that Estate Manager Eli Traverse and his wife Shelly are trained opera singers and they, along with friends Misha Myznikov, Samantha Schneider, and pianist Elisabeth Ellis, performed a presentation of Puccini’s La Bohème.

Red mountain winery

Inside or out, the views are magnificent.

They took the wine and music pairing quite seriously matching an Avennia wine to each act (and reasons behind the choice) to provide an even deeper appreciation as to the passion and expertise that permeates everything at Avennia.

There are few words that can describe the magic of pairing world-class wines with incredibly talented musicians, and Mother Nature providing a naturally spectacular backdrop. Music and views aside, we’d return again and again just for the wine. But, in terms of accompaniments that pair well with wine, we’d be hard-pressed to say we’ve experienced much better. Bravo Avennia, Bravo.

Tasting Notes

2022 Avennia L’Egerie Rosé

Washington winery

2022 Avennia L’Egerie Rosé

L’Egerie is the French word for “muse”, an homage to inspiring creativity and joy. Salmon orange in colour, this takes its cue from Provence with its blend of 78% Grenache and 22% Mourvèdre. Strawberry and raspberry flavours gain support from sub-tones of wet stones and hints of cherry. Medium+ body and medium acid, the structure reminds you of the heat of Washington’s summers. Very dry with good texture, this is serious rosé and wants to accompany food.

Very Good/Excellent (USD$30)

 

2021 Avennia Oliane

100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the highly regarded Boushey and Red Willow vineyards. Fermented in barrel with some time after in concrete. Medium straw in colour. This is really delicious showing lemon, grapefruit and lots of minerality. Medium body and medium+ acidity this shows terrific balance. Textured with definition. On the long finish we pick up hints of lemon curd. This is true to its terroir but would be comfortable in a line up of Sauvignons from anywhere in the world.

Excellent (USD$30)

2021 Avennia La Perle

Washington wine

2021 Avennia La Perle

A classic Northern Rhone blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Marsanne, this was raised in 50% new French oak as well as concrete and clay eggs. In all, 14 months were spent on the lees. The result is a very textured wine that has sharp definition created by lively acidity. Other publications have used the term “oily” to describe this wine, and not in a pejorative way. We didn’t pick up that trait. Instead we found a rich texture that evoked notes of fresh honeycomb and melon, expertly framed by the acidity. Hedonistic mouthfeel and very intense flavours.

Excellent (USD$40-very good value; French wines at this quality level would be twice the price)

2021 Avennia Justine

washington winery

2021 Avennia Justine

65% Grenache with the balance split between Syrah and Mourvedre. Lovers of Chateauneuf du Pape (count us among them) need to check this wine out! Washington  gets a similar amount of summer heat as the Southern Rhone which allows Grenache to fully ripen and burst forward with an exuberant style. Plenty of Kirsch (cherry liqueur), delivered with power and intensity. The nose has a very pretty tone to it, evoking notes of dried flowers. Terrific mouthfeel that delivers texture aligned with firm tannins.

Excellent (USD$40)

2021 Avennia Arnaut

100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard, arguably Washington’s best site for this grape (a view we support). Deep and brooding red/purple in colour.

Washingtono wine

2021 Avennia Arnaut Boushey Vineyard

The nose is stunning, its aromas reach your nose well above the glass. Blackberry, plum and black cherry are intertwined with notes of cracked pepper, olive brine and hints of dried herbs. Full bodied and moderately tannic, this has perfect balance. No sharp edges, like a plush robe. This is sex in a glass! The finish goes on and on. Continually draws you back for another sip. (Arnaut can be drank upon release but has real age-worthiness; we recently consumed our last 2011 Arnaut and it was absolutely on point.)

Excellent+ (USD$60)

2020 Avennia Gravura

Gravura is an homage to the wines of the Graves in southern Bordeaux. This year’s blend comes in with 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc. Dark red in colour this has a wonderful perfumed nose that suggests plums, morello cherry and forest notes. The palate is full bodied, fairly tannic and delivers a combination of red and black fruit flavours. The earthy, forest notes really do resemble a top growth Bordeaux. Power is aligned with finesse here, evoking more gymnast than linebacker. The finish is long with spice box undertones. A new world Haut Brion.

Excellent+ (USD$40-this is particularly good value for this quality level)

2020 Avennia Valery

Red Mountain Tasting room

Avennia tasting room at Red Mountain.

With the Merlot (88%) coming from Boushey Vineyard and the Cabernet Franc (12%) from Champoux vineyard and blended together with the talented hand of Chris Peterson, we knew this would be a winner. 25% of the blend was raised in new French oak, which helps contribute to the wonderfully decadent mouthfeel this wine has. Flavours of dark cherry and plum get added complexity from the dried herb, mocha and other savoury notes. So plush and silky! The tannins are medium+ and this wine asks to lie down for a few more years before it reaches its peak. Sexy, decadent and just downright delicious! A new world version of a top Pomerol.

Excellent+ (USD$50-this is particularly good value for this quality level)

2020 Avennia Sestina

A classic Left Bank Bordeaux blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. The colour is deep and blends dark red with purple. Very intense flavours of blackberry, cassis with savoury accents coming from the dried herb notes. The tannins are quite present but they are polished as well as firm. The most structured wine in their line up this will definitely reward cellar time. The savoury notes bring lots of complexity to the blend and the firm structure makes us crave a grilled steak to have along with it. Lovers of Paulliac definitely need to get a hold of some of this!

Excellent+ (USD$75)

Avennia @ Red Mountain

Red mountain winery

Tasting at Red Mountain.

20206 E 583 PR NE

Benton City, WA 99320

T: (509) 588-6870

E: redmountain@avennia.com

Hours: Thursdays, Sundays, Mondays: 11am-5pm

Fridays & Saturdays: 11am-6pm

(Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays)

*Avennia recently opened their 3rd tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Click HERE for details.

1 Comment

  1. lwg.mine@gmail.com'

    I like how you prioritize and they appear to have a package making it easy. I’m drawn in starting with L’Egerie… rosé lover of ‘serious rosé’, and the choice of Rhone grapes. Could those be what’s in Chris’ glass, which he looks like he’s thoroughly enjoying!

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