There is an economic explanation for why white wines are not more prolific on Red Mountain: when a region produces red wines as well as we do, the incentive is to plant those cultivars. The unfortunate reality is that a bottle of high-quality red wine can be sold for more than a bottle of high-quality white wine. Ergo, white cultivars are uncommon in our extremely small region, where acreage supply is low and demand is high. There is a large opportunity cost to have a white cultivar planted here.
So maybe we’re bad at math. Maybe we planted white grapes here before anyone knew how good the red grapes were. Maybe we just really like white wine. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. At the end of the day, Kiona grows eight white cultivars at three of our highly-regarded vineyards here on Red Mountain.
Knowing that we had dandy Red Mountain white wines in our repertoire, we wanted to build a new flagship white wine that exemplified our ethos here at Kiona Vineyards: place matters.
That's been our primary message since the launch of our 2012 Estate Red Mountain Reserve, a geographically-designated flagship red blend that eschewed varietal-designation for a focus on geography.
Enter the inaugural 2019 release of Estate Red Mountain Cuvée Artemisia, the white wine companion to Estate Red Mountain Reserve. This is an estate-grown, Red Mountain white wine blend where varietal blending convention is thrown out the window in favor of a deep understanding of our Red Mountain home and the stunning white wines that can be grown here.
Red Mountain's heat accumulation and pronounced diurnal shift is well-suited towards producing powerful, ripe white wines. With an eye towards layering and texture, the Roussanne, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier components went through a combination of clay amphora and oak barrel ferments. The result is a hedonistic white wine that can go toe-to-toe with Red Mountain's finest reds.
We labored for a long time over the name. I'm not a huge fan of using the word "blanc" as a white-wine modifier, since we are not French and don't really have anything to do with France ("Reserve Blanc" just sounds boring). So we needed to find a name that sounded like a white wine without using the words "blanc" or "white."