Coyote Canyon Winery and Andrews Vineyards
According to Silicon Valley Bank’s annual wine industry report, more than 90 percent of wineries on the West Coast reported good-to-excellent harvests in 2014. In Prosser, Washington, family-owned Coyote Canyon Winery and Andrews Vineyards are a prime example of what optimal yields and high-quality harvests have produced in the Pacific Northwest. “We just completed an excellent quality harvest; this is the best year we’ve ever had for both quality and total production,” reveals Mike Andrews, owner of Coyote Canyon Winery along with his wife, Marti Andrews. “The winery doubled in size last fall and we continue to expand.”
Grapes, the way to go
In the wine business, it can take a long time to see the fruits of years of labor. “The vineyard land has been in my family since the ‘40s and my son, Jeff Andrews, is the fourth generation to farm it, but we didn’t originally start with grapes,” says Andrews. “We began as a dryland wheat ranch, with water, transformed into a registered Hereford ranch. As crop production costs started to increase this business wasn’t returning enough of an investment.”
Andrews transitioned to grape production in 1994 with 20 acres of cabernet sauvignon. Coyote Canyon Winery was officially formed in 2006, chiefly as a means for Andrews and his family to showcase the quality of the grape varieties the vineyard produced. Today Andrews Vineyard grows 25 grape varieties, many of which have been in wines acclaimed by industry publications, organizations and food and wine festivals.
“We started the winery to get exposure for the vineyard and things have progressed pretty rapidly — from 20 acres to now more than 1,100 — and we’re soon adding another 160 acres,” says Andrews. Between the vineyard fields and the winery, Coyote Canyon Winery now has 40 employees.
Prime real estate, premium labels
Coyote Canyon Winery is a reflection of Andrews’ background in family cattle ranching. Situated in south-central Washington State, the vineyard is located in the Horse Heaven Hills, an established American Viticulture Area (AVA) with an ideal grape-growing climate and home to more than 25 percent of the state’s vineyards. The region is the source of many award-winning wines, to which Coyote Canyon Winery has also made its name known.
Despite being in a region saturated with similar businesses, Andrews says Coyote Canyon Winery produces a number of varietals other vineyards do not. “The biggest thing is that we produce a number of varietals that no one else in our area produces and they have done remarkably well,” he says. “Instead of growing the regular varieties — not that we don’t grow traditional varieties such as cabernet sauvignon — we also do a number of things that are different. We’ve gained a lot of recognition for this. We have an Albarino and Tempranillo, several Spanish wines that are doing really well. This has helped us to grow our business without interfering with other wineries. A lot of visitors come into our winery knowing our exceptional quality and looking for a different tasting experience.”
“We sell 99 percent of our grapes and use only about 1 percent for ourselves, so we don’t really compete with companies we’re selling our grapes to,” explains Andrews. “Most of our grapes are cabernets and they go to some major premium labels such as Chateau St. Michelle.”
Increasing in-house wine sales
The small percentage of harvest that remains in-house for Coyote Canyon Winery’s proprietary production has made for some interesting and very successful labels: a 2013 Horse Heaven Hills Albarino, priced at $22 a bottle; a 2010 H/H Estates Big John Cab Reserve, $42 a bottle; a 2010 H/H Estates Robert Andrews Mourvèdre and more. All of these wines have been named Editor’s Choice by the Washington Tasting Room Magazine.
“We also have a nice wine club with 450 active members; most of which are local people and most sales are through our tasting room,” says Andrews. “People come from Seattle, Spokane and now more from all over the U.S. and the world. Our area is becoming more of a destination for wine lovers.”
Business has been so good that Coyote Canyon Winery expanded its tasting room, which doubled in size in spring 2015. Located in the Winemakers Loft in Prosser’s Vintner’s Village, Andrew’s wife, Marti, who’s also a local artist, has put her personal touch on the faux-finished walls, painted murals and redecorated interior. Three generations of family history are on display through black and white photos and there’s also an on-site art gallery.
With the help of up-and-coming winemaker Justin Michaud, Coyote Canyon Winery is doing about 3,000 cases of its own premium-end wines. “Because our price point is a bit higher, our customers tend to be 40 to 50 years old, but we’re doing more to attract the younger crowd,” says Andrews.
Coyote Canyon Winery is repurposing remains of high-end batches and turning out a product that is super drinkable — with an attractive price point. “We take some of the leftovers from higher-end batches and reserve them for a year or two and put them into a wine that’s marketed at the lower price — something younger people can afford to buy. One we’ve named ‘LOL’ for labor of love. Even though these wines are made with the leftovers from higher end batches, they’re really a great value and still very high quality.”
For Coyote Canyon Winery and Andrews Vineyards, every bottle that sells is a labor of love and reflection of years of family farming tradition, passion for grape production and the perfect pour.