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Copyright © 2012
Forkmedia LLC



by Fred McMillin
for March 10, 2000

 

Winery of the Week

Hogue's in Vogue


Prologue

"Winemaking in Washington is rarely the spiritual journey it often is in California. Washington vintners are not ex-surgeons seeking more meaningful lives, or millionaires looking for a hobby with tax write-offs. Instead, they are third-generation farmers, hard-nosed and pragmatic; if grapes and wines don't make it out they go, for there are always hops to grow, and cherries and vegetables.

...Frank Prial, New York Times, 1998


The Rest of the Story

South of the Rattlesnake Hills, near Horse Heavens Hills, Wayne Hogue happily grew asparagus, apples, mint, etc. By 1980, son Mike Hogue took over the heavy lifting. In 1982, Mike was sipping wine with his older brother, Gary, on their old high school football field at the Prosser Wine and Food Fair. Gary, who ran a successful construction business in Seattle, was suprised when Mike announced the farm was going into the wine business. A marketing expert predicted that in five years they could sell 15,000 cases. Mike exceeded that in two years, and today sales are aroung four hundred thousand cases annually. Here are some milestones of the largest family-owned winery in Washington State.


Milestones in the Road to Success

Hogue's first red wine was a 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon. Critic Jeff Prather: "It blew people away, packing more concentrated mocha/berry flavor into its toasty frame than anything Washington State had seen before."

With exlosive sales, Mike was swamped, so Gary returned from Seattle to become President and Sales Ambassador. Soon he was tasting Hogue wines with Peter Jennings in New York, Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis in Florida, and Robert Mondavi in Hawaii.

Bob Thompson may be the most astute observer of Northwest wines. When Hogue Cellars was in only its tenth year, he wrote: Arguably, Hogue is Washington's best across-the-board winery, and certainly its most reliable. Wines include a refined but indelible Semillon, polished Merlot and Cab, fruitier than usual Chardonnay and top-drawer Rieslings.

The Hogue Cellars  
1997—Hogue wines are served at a State dinner attended by the heads of Great Britian, Japan, Germany, France, Russia and Italy. Not bad!

For our last milestone, we go back to Hogue's second year, 1984. David Forsyth had left his native Washington long enough to earn his M.S. in Winemaking at U.C.-Davis. In 1984 he joined Hogue. He was named Winemaker of the Year for 1995 by the Los Angeles Times. You know why.


Only The Facts

The Hogue Cellars
Wine Country Road, P.O. Box 31, Prosser, WA 99350
Ph. (509) 786-4557, FAX (509) 786-4580
Internet—www.hogue-cellars.com
Wine Recommendations—On April 13, 1991, in a blind tasting I matched two, equally-priced 1989 Chardonnay, one from a well-known California winery, the other from a little-known Washington winery named Hogue Cellars.
Four panelists preferred the California, TWELVE chose the Hogue. I've recommended Hogue Chardonnay ever since. Later that year in my S.F. State University course I served a Hogue Merlot that ranked 26th in the Wine Spectator's list of the Best 100 Wines of the Year. The Riesling also has scored very well in my classes.
Conclusion: When selecting a Hogue, simply pick your favorite varietal and the odds are that you and your guests will be very happy with it.
Prices—Always reasonable. Chardonnay—My 1989 was $8; the 1998 is only $14. The highly-regarded Merlot is $15.


Postscript

Which is the most widely-planted grape variety in the State of Washington...Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet? Nope, the last figures I have show it is Concord, the native American grape of Welch's grape juice fame. Let me hasten to add, there's no Concord in Hogue wines.

Credits: Bob Woehler, Wine Press Northwest
Gregutt, McCarthy and Prather, Northwest Wines

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created March 2000

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