On a regular basis, I am asked by guests, “what makes Red Mountain so special.” It’s one of my favorite questions and topics to share with visitors! Red Mountain is woven into our story from start to finish. From our first vintage of Red Mountain Merlot that dates to 2005, to our tasting room that opened in 2007, and our Estate Vineyard that was first planted in 2008, we are all in on Red Mountain. As an AVA, we’ve established six points that make the region we call home unique and specific to Red Mountain.
The southwest slope provides the vineyards in the region with a direction aspect to the sun that is ideal for prolonged sunlight and exposure. These conditions allow for prolonged sun exposure and warmth provide for ripe tannins, a primary characteristic of Red Mountain.
More growing degree days create ripeness and concentration, while cool nights help retain acidity for balance and structure.
Red Mountain gathers less than 8 inches of rain per year. Drip irrigation and canopy management create ideal grape growing conditions. In addition, Red Mountain experience lower mold and mildew pressure compared to most other vineyard regions.
Defined by natural borders, the AVA is reminiscent of Old World, where every block is seen by a single vantage point. The Red Mountain AVA which was established in 2001, is comprised of 4,040 acres, 2,338 of which are planted with predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wind-blown Loess (Warden, Hezel, and Scooteney) were brought in by pre-historic floods. The high alkalinity and calcium carbonate content of the soil, along with the granular consistency, allow vines to form well-established root systems that reach deep nutrients and moisture.
Regular gusts of warm air keep grape clusters small and concentrate for flavors of the fruit for richness and intensity.
The season of love couldn’t be a better time to share the meaning behind our favorite phrase. Fidelitas, which is Latin for “Faithful, Loyal, and True”, is something that we stand behind in everything that we do. Fidelitas is faithful to Bordeaux grape varieties, loyal to modern craft winemaking techniques, and true to Washington State's Red Mountain terroir. Here’s what that means to us:
Fidelitas is faithful to Bordeaux grape varieties.
We source only grape varieties that can be found in the Bordeaux region of France. This includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. For white wines it’s Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (Muscadelle is also on the white wine list but Fidelitas has yet to produce one). Our choice to be faithful to only Bordeaux grape varieties was simple. The most obvious reason being that Charlie’s favorite grapes to make wine out of are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Did you know that over 90% of Bordeaux wines are red wines made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon? Also lucky for us, the Red Mountain AVA happens to have the ideal terroir for growing these grapes. Could it be because Red Mountain sits at nearly the same latitude as Bordeaux?
We are loyal to modern craft winemaking techniques.
This is one of my favorite topics to dive into conversation about with Fidelitas fans. What does “modern craft” mean anyway? It means that we take the tried and true winemaking techniques from the past and merge it with modern technology. Prime examples of this are in the numerous types of oak barrels we use for fermenting, or our TCA (cork taint) free corks. Charlie says “to source grapes from Red Mountain means that once they come into the cellar we don’t have to do a lot to them produce great wines, but the fine tuning that we can do with modern technology helps us get one step closer to producing a “perfect bottle of wine”.”
True to Washington State’s Red Mountain terroir.
Red Mountain is quickly becoming known for being the top growing region in Washington and we couldn’t be happier to call it home. The smallest AVA in Washington state, Red Mountain makes up only 4 square miles (4,040 acres) and we source all of our grapes exclusively from here. We're also fortunate to have our 12-acre Estate Vineyard sit right in the middle of the AVA. Because of Charlie’s long-standing relationships with vineyard owners and growers, we’re able to get our hands on some of the most sought-after lots like those from Blackwood Canyon, Quintessence, and Ciel du Cheval. All the wines we produce are a true expression of the AVA and our favorite place to enjoy a glass is sitting on our back patio while watching the sunset over the vineyard.
A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to sit on a panel in front of industry peers to discuss the benefits of “Custom Clubs”. That is, I chatted about the Fidelitas Wine Club and the hows and whys of letting our members select their own Club allocations. This is a big deal! It’s breaking away from the traditional Club model of “we choose wines and send whatever we want to you” that has been followed since the dawn of Wine Clubs. And while all of the boring (inventory) details may not be best suited for this blog, I think that there are a few key points worth sharing:
Selecting what is best for your cellar
Is your vertical of Optu Red Mountain growing nicely? Wish you had more Merlot and less Cabernet? Allowing members to create their own combination of wines in each allocation gives people the chance to take home the wines that they really want to shape their cellar. We are releasing 3 -4 brand new wines at each Club release, and members can select the exact quantities of what they are going to enjoy the most.
It’s important to note here that some members told us they don’t want the additional work of selecting Club allocations. I get it. Day to day life offers so many choices that sometimes you want wine to be the easy part. So – we will always have a pre-selected allocation as well that means great wines with no effort.
Winemakers get to have more fun
This is maybe the best part. Both for the members, and for us at Fidelitas. If we asked every Club member to take the exact same Club allocation, Charlie would be stuck making large quantities of the exact same wine in every vintage. The problem is, Charlie loves to make small lot quantity wines each year based on what comes in to the cellar. Following a custom club model means that he gets to create wines that are maybe 50 – 140 cases total, and members get to select these wines for their shipments. It’s a win/win, really.
Convenient ship windows and special pricing
We first started offering custom clubs to our out of state members. Knowing that they are often dealing with the inconvenience of having wines shipped when the weather may be too hot or too cold, and needing to have an adult signature for delivery, we wanted to design a Club just for them. Our Electus Club is designed to ship wine only in moderate temperature months, and offers additional discounts and complimentary shipping when 6-bottle shipments are rounded up to a case.
Try before you buy
Just last weekend, we launched our “preview tastings”. Two times per year, Custom Club members are invited to taste through the line up of upcoming releases and build their allocations at that time. We love letting people experience the wines before they make their selections, and also found that it was a great time to just connect with members and help them learn the ropes of our new allocation system.