Hedges Family Estate Wines – Collectivino

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Hedges Family Estate

Washington State, USA

 About the vineyard & winemaker 

Co-founder Martin visited the Hedges Family Estate in September 2022. Here's his write-up:

Arriving at Red Mountain, in the southeast corner of Washington State along the Yakima river, I immediately fell in love with the near-desert terraIn. I could also see why it would make for a great place to grow organic grapes: the area has an average yearly rainfall of just 10cm, helping growers avoid the issues caused by too much moisture; growing season daytime temperatures average 32°C, with nighttime dropping below 10°C, helping to preserve acid levels in the grapes; and southerly facing gentle slopes make for ideal growing conditions.

I spent the best part of day with Christophe Hedges and his wife Maggie. I immediately felt at home, amongst friends. We enjoyed some outstanding wines while connecting over shared cultural and political references. We spent a lot of time talking about how to adapt to a changing climate. And I heard the story of how Hedges Family Estate came into being.

In 1976 Washington State-born Tom Hedges married Annie-Marie Liégeois in her hometown of Ossey-les-Trois-Maisons, in Champagne, France. They subsequently moved to the USA and established Hedges Cellars in 1987 and then purchased 50 acres of land on Red Mountain, where they planted 40 acres of Bordeaux grape varieties.

Their vision was to make high quality new world wines in the old world style (there is a strong French influence here thanks to Annie-Marie), while preserving the flavour of the local terroir. An exemplar of this is that they age their wines in "neutral" barrels, using aged European oak and not new American oak (as is often preferred by Californian wineries). We laughed together as I joked "you don't want your wine to taste like a Bourbon, do you?". In 1990 they won the first of what was to become a series of gold medals for their excellently crafted wines.

In 1995 they began building a French-style chateau - which I had the pleasure to visit. Meantime, Christophe and Sarah, children of Tom and Anne-Marie, came of age and joined the family business, (literally) rolling up their sleeves within the Estate - Christophe on both sales and stone masonry to enlarge the Estate, and Sarah in winemaking. The business has continued to expand, adding further vineyards along the way, with Domaine Magdalena, set up by Maggie and Christophe Hedges, just across the road. There is a genuine family legacy in the making here.

With 70 hectares, Christophe says “we're just about large enough to have our own ecosystem like a French Chateau business” with all wines estate-grown, aged and bottled on site. These guys know what they're doing, and they're shaking things up in the industry. For example, Hedges was one of the first US estates (together with Ridge Estate in California) to fight the “stuffy and rigged” public reviews and wine point scoring systems. They care about doing things the right way.  

“So how do you market yourselves?” I asked. The response: “by making great wine”. In my own view this is an understatement. The wines are both exceptional and ethical, in equal measure. Think of Hedges as "The Ridge Estate (California) of the North West”.

In summary, this is an authentic family business, run by some seriously good people, making some seriously good wine. 

In their own words:

"Led by a passion for authenticity and a deep connection to the land we call home, the Hedges Family Estate blends rich cultural upbringings and a shared love for creating beautiful wine, fostering a true homegrown approach to farming and viticulture. The unique geography of Red Mountain speaks volumes… The language of this distinct land translates to viticulture with the same character and complexity of the grapes themselves. We consider our collection of wines a collaboration between people and place; a true expression of origin and the unified culture of farm and family, for generations to come."

Collectivino is proud and honoured to be able to work with the Hedges family to import these wonderful sustainable fine wines to the U.K.  We are confident you’ll fall in love with them, as we have.

Sustainability Rating: 3* (Pioneer)

These guys are serious about farming their land with consideration and respect for the planet. They don’t believe that being merely "organic" is a high enough bar in the USA due to the local rules which allow the use of more interventions than they think are necessary. So they have set the bar higher, and farm using biodynamic methods, with Demeter certification. Rather than resorting to chemical solutions, Hedges uses nature. For example, roaming chickens are deployed to control the predatory cutworm population. Planting, pruning and harvesting is done by hand, cultivating a connection to the crop. No commercial yeast is added to the wine during fermentation, resulting in a wine that expresses the terroir it came from.    

A strong focus for the family is climate change, which was referenced many times during our visit. They are actively engaged in mitigation and on adaptation, and are experimenting with planting grapes which are native to hotter, more southerly environments (Portugal), to future proof the business. Although it has a similar latitude to the Loire, Red Mountain has very low precipitation – this is mountain desert land. Some modest irrigation is thus essential for vine health, which is carried out within strict water allocations from the local Columbia river. This also has the advantage of allowing them to optimise the growth of their grapevines. 

View all Hedges Family Estate Wines here.

 

 

rated excellent on trust pilot
Proud to be rated "excellent" 
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