The Geology of Red Willow Vineyard
Eight Bells Winery is very fortunate to have specified blocks within Red Willow Vineyard. Red Willow Vineyard is located at the western end of the Yakima Valley and is one of the oldest and most acclaimed vineyards in Washington. Our wines are not only designated single vineyard, but most of our wines are tied to a specific block within Red Willow from which Eight Bells Winery receives all of the fruit of that block. This assures our wines reflect the narrowly defined, distinctive terroir characteristics of these blocks year in and year out.
The Chapel Block was once a small island during the Missoula floods, the upper 2/3rds supports ancient soils. Underlying much of the hill is sandstone which can still be viewed in the outcroppings that were left untouched on part of the western slope. Also intermixed are river rocks likely deposited from the ancient flows of the Columbia river. The south slope, being the steepest and hottest of all slopes is where our Mourvèdre and Viognier vines are planted.
Only a couple hundred meters away from the Chapel Block is Olney Springs. In the shadow of a natural springs coming out of the Autanumn Ridge, Olney Springs was once a native American pathway and is now an overgrowth of Sumac that turns scarlet red during the Fall months. This is the location of an acre plot that was planted as an experimental block filled with 10 different Cabernet clones, along with Merlot, Cab Franc and other Bordeaux varietals. This block is called David’s Block referring to one of the pioneering winemakers in Washington state, David Lake. It was planted as a field blend taking all of the Bordeaux varietals and co-fermenting them together. Soils are calcareous underneath with sandy loam on top.
Nearly a full mile west of the Chapel Block is the Les Vignes de Marcoux Block. In this short distance the valley gradually rises putting it between 1100-1300 ft. elevation. A gentle south-east facing slope flows throughout most of the 60 acre block. Soils are classified as a Warden sandy loam. This is the source for our Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.”