Horse Heaven Hills
The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is located in south-central Washington, along the Washington-Oregon border to the west of Walla Walla. Roughly 6,000 acres of vineyards are planted in the region, with two-thirds being red (predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and one-third being white (predominantly Chardonnay and Riesling). The area is home to the single largest winemaking facility in the state: the giant Columbia Crest Winery that is owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle.

This is one of Washington's warmer appellations and vineyards tend to be planted on the many south facing slopes that the rolling topography provides. This is a windy, arid region that enjoys plentiful sunshine, making irrigation essential. The area was first planted in 1972, at what is now known as the Champoux Vineyard, and Horse Heaven has subsequently become a preferred source of fruit for many of Washington's boutique wineries, most notably in that regard Quilceda Creek.

The Horse Heaven Hills also contains a micro-district that deserves separate mention, Canoe Ridge. Lying well to the west of Walla Walla on the banks of the Columbia River, Canoe Ridge is a 1,000 foot hill rising from the river and looking out over the barren scrub land on the Oregon side, not unlike Hermitage in France's Rhone Valley. Named by Lewis and Clark on a 19th century expedition through the area, the hill resembles an overturned canoe.

It is jointly owned, in its entirety, by Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Canoe Ridge Winery. Planted in the late 80s, these vineyards provide some of the best Merlots in the state and the country, and Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have proven exceptional as well. Somewhat more restrained than many Walla Walla wines, Canoe Ridge wines show tightly wound varietal character and a marked ability to develop in bottle. As an added bonus the wines are widely distributed. (Wine/Appellations)