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by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
Hogue's in Vogue
"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.
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
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.
Bob Woehler, Wine Press Northwest
This page created March 2000