Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Horse Heaven Hills AVA

46° 00' N


119° 45' W




about this subregion

Nestled within the expansive Washington wine region and to the east of The Burn of Columbia Valley AVA, the Horse Heaven Hills AVA stands as a testament to the harmonious interplay between environment and viticulture. Characterized by a captivating landscape, this AVA has carved out a niche as a premier wine-producing region.

Situated at an average altitude of around 300 meters (1,000 feet) above sea level, the vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills benefit from well-draining soils and a climate marked by warm, sun-drenched days and cool evenings. These conditions create an idyllic setting for grape cultivation, with the Columbia River providing additional moderation to the temperature.

The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is renowned for its exceptional wines, with a focus on Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Merlot thrives here, yielding wines with a plush texture and flavors of red fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, displays bold characteristics, boasting dark berry notes and structured tannins. Chardonnay, both elegant and expressive, shines with flavors ranging from citrus to buttery richness. Finally, Riesling showcases its versatility with vibrant acidity and a spectrum of flavors, from crisp apple to floral complexity.

The unique environment of Horse Heaven Hills, with its elevation, climate, and soil diversity, contributes to wines that reflect the essence of Washington's viticultural excellence. This AVA's commitment to sustainable practices and its remarkable terroir make it a destination of choice for wine enthusiasts seeking a taste of Washington's finest offerings.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares



2800 - 3000


Discover Terroir

The Horse Heaven Hills AVA, situated within Washington renowned wine region, boasts a captivating and diverse landscape that plays a pivotal role in shaping its viticultural identity. Characterized by gently rolling hills and sun-kissed vineyards, this picturesque AVA that is close to the potential Columbia Hills AVA is a testament to the harmonious relationship between its physical environment and the art of winemaking.

The landscape of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is marked by its undulating terrain, with vineyards nestled along the slopes and ridges of the hills. These hills, which lend their name to the region, create a natural amphitheater-like setting that allows for optimal sun exposure and air circulation—a boon for grape cultivation. As the sun graces the vineyards with its warm embrace, it not only nurtures the ripening grapes but also imparts distinct character to the wines produced here.

The Columbia River, meandering nearby, adds another layer of complexity to the landscape. Its cooling influence moderates the region's temperatures, ensuring that the grapes experience warm days and cool nights, a balance that is crucial for the development of nuanced flavors and balanced acidity.

Vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills are strategically positioned to capture the benefits of this unique topography, creating a diverse tapestry of microclimates that cater to a variety of grape varieties. The scenic beauty of this AVA, with its rolling hills and lush vineyards, is a sight to behold and serves as a fitting backdrop to the exceptional wines that emerge from its fertile soils. In essence, the landscape of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is a harmonious blend of natural beauty and viticultural potential, making it a treasured destination for wine enthusiasts seeking the finest expressions of Washington State's winemaking artistry.

The climate of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, nestled within Washington State's wine region, is a symphony of natural factors that orchestrate the perfect conditions for grape cultivation. This captivating viticultural area experiences a climate that is both distinctive and influential, shaping the character of the wines produced here.

With an average annual rainfall of approximately 203 millimeters, the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is characterized by its arid nature. The region receives limited precipitation, a factor that plays a crucial role in grape development. This scarcity of rainfall empowers vintners with precise control over irrigation, allowing them to tailor the vines' water supply to their specific needs. This meticulous management ensures that the grapes ripen evenly and develop concentrated flavors, a hallmark of the wines crafted in this AVA.

The average altitude of the vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills hovers around 300 meters (approximately 1,000 feet) above sea level. This elevation contributes significantly to the region's unique climate. The higher altitude provides relief from the intense heat of the day, as well as cooler temperatures during the night. This diurnal temperature variation is essential for grape ripening, as it allows the grapes to retain crucial acidity while achieving optimal ripeness.

The region's climate, with its warm, sun-drenched days and cool, refreshing nights, creates a balance that is conducive to grape cultivation. The ample sunlight during the growing season ensures that the grapes ripen fully, infusing them with rich flavors and sugars. Simultaneously, the cool nights preserve the grapes' natural acidity, resulting in wines that are both ripe and balanced.

In summary, the climate of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is a finely tuned instrument, with the elements of limited rainfall, elevation, and temperature variation all playing their part. This harmonious interplay between nature and nurture results in wines that are expressive, balanced, and reflective of the unique terroir that defines this remarkable wine region.

At the heart of Washington State's illustrious wine region lies the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, where the land's composition weaves a rich tapestry of terroir. Among the many soil types that grace this landscape, one stands out prominently: deep silt-loam over basalt bedrock and gravel. This remarkable soil composition is the canvas upon which the region's vineyards paint their story, and it plays a pivotal role in shaping the wines that emerge from this celebrated viticultural area.

Deep Silt-Loam over Basalt Bedrock and Gravel: The dominant soil composition in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is a testament to its geological history. Here, deep silt-loam layers, characterized by their fine texture and fertile nature, serve as the nurturing foundation for the region's vineyards. These loamy soils provide an ideal environment for grapevines to establish deep root systems, accessing essential nutrients and moisture.

Beneath this silt-loam layer lies a bedrock of basalt, a volcanic rock that imparts distinctive mineral characteristics to the wines. The porous nature of basalt bedrock allows for effective drainage, preventing water from accumulating around the roots and promoting healthy vine growth. This mineral-rich foundation contributes to the region's unique terroir, influencing the flavors and complexities found in the wines.

Interwoven with the silt-loam and basalt, gravel deposits add yet another layer of complexity to the soil composition. Gravel is known for its excellent drainage properties, creating a harmonious balance with the silt-loam layers above. This blend of textures and elements ensures that vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA can carefully manage water resources, preventing over-saturation and allowing for precise control over irrigation practices.

In essence, the deep silt-loam over basalt bedrock and gravel composition of the soils in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA creates an environment where grapevines thrive. It provides a canvas that captures the essence of this unique terroir, allowing winemakers to craft wines of exceptional quality and character that reflect the region's rich geological heritage.


Nestled within the picturesque Horse Heaven Hills AVA of Washington State, the vineyards here are graced with an idyllic physical aspect. The region's gently sloping hills, sun-kissed by the Washington sun, create an enchanting landscape for grape cultivation. Now, let's explore the agricultural and climatic requirements of the prominent grape varieties grown in this AVA:

  1. Merlot: Merlot, one of the region's celebrated grape varieties, flourishes in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA thanks to its adaptability. Merlot vines thrive in the warm, sunny climate of the region, benefiting from the extended hours of sunlight and well-draining soils. These grapes are known for their ability to adapt to various soil types, making them a staple of the AVA. The warmth and ample sunshine here contribute to the ideal conditions for ripening Merlot grapes, which are key to producing wines of exceptional quality.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon, another star of the region, demands a longer growing season, which is aptly provided by the Horse Heaven Hills' warm days and extended sunlight hours. The vineyards' well-draining soils and moderate water availability create an ideal environment for these grapes to develop their bold character and intense flavors. The grapes benefit from the region's diurnal temperature variation, which helps preserve their acidity and structure.
  3. Chardonnay: Chardonnay, both elegant and versatile, thrives in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA's favorable conditions. These grapes prefer a slightly cooler microclimate, and some vineyards in the region are strategically positioned to capture the moderating influence of the nearby Columbia River. This ensures the grapes receive the necessary cooling effect during the warm growing season, allowing them to maintain their acidity and develop nuanced flavors.
  4. Riesling: Riesling, a grape celebrated for its acidity and aromatic potential, finds a welcoming home in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. This grape variety excels in cooler microclimates, where the AVA's elevation plays a crucial role. The higher altitude vineyards enjoy cooler nights, preserving the grape's natural acidity while allowing the development of vibrant and aromatic characteristics.

These grape varieties have found their ideal home in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, each responding to the region's unique agricultural and climatic characteristics to produce wines of exceptional quality and distinction.

Within the enchanting Horse Heaven Hills AVA of Washington State, a diverse range of wines graces glasses with their distinctive characteristics. These wines, renowned for their full-bodied nature and captivating visual allure, offer a sensory journey through the heart of Washington's viticultural excellence.

  1. Merlot: Merlot wines from Horse Heaven Hills captivate with their deep ruby hues, hinting at their opulent character. Aromas of ripe plum, cherry, and subtle herbal notes fill the senses. On the palate, these wines deliver a harmonious blend of red fruit flavors, complemented by soft tannins and a velvety texture, resulting in an elegant and approachable profile.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: The Cabernet Sauvignon wines of this AVA boast deep garnet shades that foreshadow their bold and powerful character. Aromas of blackcurrant, dark berries, and hints of cedar tantalize the nose. On the palate, these wines offer robust flavors of black fruit, layered with notes of oak and structured tannins, delivering a powerful and enduring tasting experience.
  3. Chardonnay: Chardonnay wines crafted in Horse Heaven Hills reveal a golden hue that reflects their elegance. The bouquet is characterized by fragrant citrus, green apple, and a touch of subtle oak. On the palate, Chardonnay offers a harmonious interplay of fruit and acidity, producing wines that are both crisp and luscious, with a delightful complexity.
  4. Riesling: Riesling, celebrated for its versatility, showcases a pale, glistening straw-like appearance that hints at its refreshing nature. Aromas of floral notes, green apple, and hints of mineral dance on the nose. On the palate, Riesling delights with its vibrant acidity, zesty citrus, and a range of flavors from stone fruit to lively lime, creating a crisp and invigorating experience.

These wines, distinguished by their captivating visual allure and enticing aromas, epitomize the unique terroir of Horse Heaven Hills AVA, offering a delightful journey through the diverse and flavorful world of Washington State wines.