Driving down Sunset Road in 2019 imbues a sense of viticultural significance. Plantings are dense, to the point where a patch of unplanted land stands out like a sore thumb.
That has not always been the case. In fact, for most of Red Mountain's viticultural history, vineyards could have been described as oases of green distributed infrequently and randomly across the harsh desert landscape.
Red Mountain stands today as a pillar of quality in the wine industry, but that didn't just happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of smart people to turn an obscure corner of the greater Yakima Valley into the densely-planted, widely-revered, and internationally-vested AVA it is today.
One of those people was the late Fred Artz.
Fred joined the Red Mountain community when he started working for Patricia and David Gelles of Klipsun Vineyard in 1984, just two years after it was initially planted in 1982. Under his care and attention as vineyard manager, Klipsun quickly gained a reputation for quality on the world wine scene, having been named one of the "Top 25 Vineyards in the World" by Wine & Spirits magazine and often named as one of Washington's "First Growth" vineyards in wine circles.
In the mid-1990s Fred had the inkling to plant his own vineyard and did so at a site immediately north of Klipsun. Artz Vineyard was born.
Planted predominately to Bordeaux varieties, Fred's eponymous vineyard has, in the intervening years, developed a cult following amongst high-end producers in the Pacific Northwest.