A family, some grapes, and a Mountain

40 years, and growing

  • 1961
    • John Williams and Jim Holmes meet at General Electric. 

  • 1965
    • John and Jim work with WSU extension/Dr. Clore

    • We wanted to learn as much as we could. And getting dirty seemed like the best way to do it.
      John Williams
  • 1972
    • John and Jim buy land on Red Mountain

  • 1972
    • John Williams

      Jim and I knew there was water down there at about 550 feet. We did all the research. So we hired this guy, he was an old salt well digger, to come dig the well. He was skeptical; he always called us “boys.” He kind of rolled his eyes at us, a couple of young guys telling him where the water was. Jim and I are engineers, so plus/minus guys. We went down there at about the time we knew he would have been at that depth. He said, “Boys, I’m at 545 feet and there’s no water.” We didn’t have a lot of money left, but we knew the water was close. You know, plus or minus. So we told him to keep going. The next morning he had hit water at almost exactly 550 feet. He told us, “Boys, you did know where that water was.
      John Williams
  • 1975
    • Scott Williams

      I was in high school and I recruited a bunch of my classmates to help us plant the vineyard. There must have been a recent gnat hatch, because on one really hot Saturday afternoon there was a giant swarm. They would fly into your nose and mouth and it was hard to see. Everybody wanted to go home but I told them that we had to finish. They started to sing “Chain Gang” by Sam Cooke. I felt bad after that, so I sent them all home!
  • 1975
    • John and Jim plant the first grapes on Red Mountain (Cab, Riesling, Chardonnay)

    • "It was a good spot, and best of all, we could afford it."
      John Williams
  • 1976
    • Several of John and Jim's co-workers tire of hearing them talk incessantly about the merits of vineyard ownership and Red Mountain, and plant a vineyard of their own immediately adjacent to Kiona Estate. The two friends and partners would later go on to purchase Ciel du Cheval vineyard about 20 years later. 

  • 1976
    • John and Jim plant more varietals (Lemberger, Chenin, Merlot)

  • 1977
    • 15.6 Red Mountain Acres under vine

  • 1977
    • Scott Williams

      We would drive to the vineyard site in a 1969 Plymouth Fury station wagon. It was yellow with black vinyl interior. The road was so bad at the start. It was really just a path through the desert. There were these soft dunes made of ultra-fine dust that you’d have to build up speed to bust through, or else you’d get stuck. So we’d gun it and each time we’d hit another dust dune, it would send up a giant plume. It got everywhere; it came in through the vents in the car. It was like throwing flour in someone's face, except dirt.
      Scott Williams
  • 1978
    • First Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon fruit sold to Preston. Winemaker is Rob Griffin, now of Barnard Griffin Winery

    • "The conventional wisdom in the late 1970's was that Washington was a first class white wine region with limited prospects for reds. My opinion on this point was permanently changed in 1978 with the opportunity to crush the first crop from Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain. The depth of color and fruit intensity was definitely a revelation as to the potential for Washington Merlots and Cabernets. The fruit yielded wines of tremendous depth and intensity, real diamonds in the rough and a foreshadow of great things to come."
      Rob Griffin
  • 1980
    • Vintage of first wine produced under Kiona name. 1st commercial Lemberger in the USA

  • 1982
    • Kiona is one the of founding members of Yakima Valley AVA

  • 1983
    • John and Ann finish house on Red Mountain. Move in. Tasting room opens in basement

  • 1984
    • Scott and Vicky Williams purchase land for Ranch at the End of the Road and live on Red Mountain

  • 1987
    • You’ll not find many wines of this caliber from anywhere in the world at this humble a price.
      Richard Jones, Albuquerque Journal, June 11 1987 Issue, on 1983 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1987
    • 24.5 Red Mountain Acres under vine

  • 1987
    • I found myself particularly impressed with the wines from Kiona, a small estate winery situated in the Eastern end of the highly respected Yakima Valley appellation.
      Nancy Gilchrist, The Boston Globe, May 6 1987 Issue
  • 1989
    • Kiona grows and makes excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus Lemberger, a variety little known outside Washington.
      The Wine Spectator, October 1989 Issue
  • 1990
    • Vicky Williams

      The barrels used to be in the basement behind the tasting room. When I was working I’d have to go back and check on the bungs. If folks came in to taste when I was clambering on the racks, four barrels high, I’d have to catapult off to greet them in a timely fashion. More than a few folks wondered why I would round the corner and greet them out of breath.
      Vicky Williams
  • 1990
    • Kiona has become a very successful winery in its own right, producing a consistently impressive range of wines.
      Wine Magazine, October 1990 Issue Page 90
  • 1992
    • JJ Williams

      At the old crush pad they would clean up at the end of the day with a giant firehose; I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My Dad knew this, and used it as a carrot to keep me well-behaved through the long hours we’d spend there. At the end of the day, after waiting for what felt like an eternity, he’d let me “help” him spray everything down. So. Much. Fun.
      JJ Williams
  • 1994
    • Williams family purchases Holmes family share of Kiona Vineyards Winery, divests in Ciel du Cheval. Families split partnership amicably and remain friends to this day.

  • 1997
    • 61.5 Red Mountain acres under vine

  • 1998
    • Vicky Williams

      When Tyler entered 2nd grade their first unit was on the five senses. He sent the poor teacher into a tizzy when he said that the apple juice they were using in the classroom smelled like Chardonnay. I had to explain to the teacher what we did for a living, and that Chardonnay juice, before it is fermented, does indeed have a strong resemblance to apple juice in appearance, flavor, and smell.
      Vicky Williams
  • 1998
    • Jesse Mejia

      I have a lot of fond memories at Kiona. My parents would bring me on Saturdays when they were working in the vineyard. I spent a lot of time walking through the vineyards and doing my homework in the rows. My first driving lessons from my Dad were on the road that splits the Fans Block and North Block of the Kiona Estate vineyard. I was about 12. They must have been good lessons, because I haven’t caused an accident in the nineteen years since.
      Jesse Mejia
  • 1999
    • JJ Williams

      We used to have a vineyard between Red Mountain and Prosser that was irrigated directly from the Yakima River. Every spring, we’d have to put the pipes together and put them pretty far out in the river, because it goes up and down throughout the year. In the fall, you’d do the same thing in reverse. I think that my Mom could always tell that it was Irrigation Pipe Day based on smell alone.
      JJ Williams
  • 2000
    • Sunset Road wasn’t paved for most of my childhood. The school bus wouldn’t go off of the pavement, so we got dropped off at the end of the road. The winery is about halfway between our drop-off point and our house, so JJ and I would walk about a mile to the winery as a stopgap. After filling up on Grandma’s cereal, we’d go hang out in the tasting room, where we would see folks tasting wine that had driven by us on our walk. If that doesn’t exemplify a family winery, I don’t know what does.
      Tyler Williams
  • 2003
    • JJ Williams

      Tyler and I were picking up grow tubes in the Sangiovese block at Ranch at the End of the Road. They’re about 3 feet long, and cylindrical in shape. We were singing a song, getting really into it, so I wasn’t really paying attention to what we were doing. I grabbed something that I thought was a grow tube, but it didn’t feel quite right. I looked down and saw that it was a snake, and threw it straight up in the air, nearly landing on Tyler. That was exciting.
      JJ Williams
  • 2004
    • It's impossible to hide the fact that Kiona produces consistently top notch wines.
      Alder Yarrow, VINOGRAPHY, September 2004
  • 2005
    • JJ Williams

      Grandpa John had a powered parachute that he would fly around Red Mountain. The parachute itself had a pretty wild rainbow motif. I was driving a tractor at Ranch at the End of the Road, on a fairly steep grade, when all of a sudden this massive rainbow-colored object came into my field of vision from above and behind. It scared the living daylights out of me, and I almost drove the tractor right into the grapes. Buzzed by my own Grandfather.
      JJ Williams
  • 2006
    • For decades the Williams family has been farming classic varieties on Red Mountain, one of America's great AVAs. They know the land like few others do, and their grapes reflect it.
      Bob Betz, Master of Wine
  • 2007
    • 111.06 Red Mountain acres under vine

  • 2007
    • New Red Mountain tasting room opens to the public

  • 2007
    • Junior Flores promoted to Cellar Master

  • 2009
    • JJ Williams hired as Sales Manager

  • 2009
    • Kiona Vineyards and Winery has been quietly producing really good wine since 1980.
      Seattle Magazine, August 2009 Issue
  • 2011
    • Jesse Mejia hired as Accountant

  • 2014
    • Tristan Butterfield hired as Enologist.

  • 2014
    • Michele Clarke hired as Brand Ambassador

  • 2014
    • Brandon Gomez hired as Office Admin and Operations

  • 2015
    • Red Mountain has arrived.
      Wine Enthusiast Magazine, March 2015 Issue, Page 55
  • 2016
    • John Williams and Jim Holmes recognized with Lifetime Achievement awards from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers for their work pioneering Red Mountain and Yakima Valley.

    • He's my dearest friend. We did a hell of a thing together.
      John Williams
  • 2017
    • 236.21 Red Mountain acres under vine

  • 2017
    • The Williams family is proving Heart of the Hill to be one of the best vineyards in the state of Washington.
      Wine Press Northwest, Spring 2017 Issue

Family and Staff

John Williams

Founder, Fix-it-man

Grit, determination of will, and a dash of risky bravado; all are good descriptors of Grandpa John. He had the vision, the fortitude, the practical skills, and scientific mind that it took to make Kiona Vineyards and Winery a reality. With naysayers at every step, in every decade, John has looked them all in the face and said, “No. We’ll do it.”

Ann Williams

Founder, Do-everything-gal

Ann is the glue that holds this place together. She is everywhere, and she is nowhere. Always behind the scenes, anticipating needs before they are needs; thoughtful and considerate don’t begin to describe her contributions. She has called Red Mountain home since 1983.

Scott Williams

Vineyard Manager, Winemaker

Scott Is singularly responsible for making Kiona Vineyards and Winery what it is today. He took what his parents had created and made it his own. It takes a farmer to build a farm-first winery, and he is our guy. He has lived, farmed, and worked on Red Mountain for more than 30 years.

Vicky Williams

Red Mountain Maven

With a degree in Nursing from the University of Washington, Vicky ran the nursing department at Prosser Memorial Hospital for more than a decade. She kept the family fed while the farm was in its infancy and things were touch and go financially. Today she manages a one-acre U-Pick and frequents several local farmer’s markets as a vendor of fresh, healthy, family-farmed fruit.

JJ Williams

Director of Operations, Whippersnapper

Since it’s weird to talk in the third person, I will out myself as your friendly website narrator. I grew up on Red Mountain, where my childhood was spent stacking and unstacking ladders, balancing shovels on my outstretched palm, and wondering why we couldn’t have cable television like “normal” kids.

Molly Williams

Brand Arbiter

Multitalented and fierce, Molly is a graduate of Gonzaga University and the Seattle Culinary Academy. Her zealotry for sustainable, healthy, seasonal food, especially when paired with Red Mountain wine, is second to none.

Jesse Mejia

Accountant, Merlot Drinker

Jesse graduated with a degree in Accounting from Washington State University. After wasting away at a cubicle at an insurance company for a couple of years, he joined Kiona in May 2011 and has been an integral part of keeping us sane ever since. His parents, Francisco and Josefina, have worked with us for the better part of three decades.

Junior Flores

Cellarmaster

Junior has been with us since 1994. He keeps a journal of every wine he has ever tasted, which is pretty impressive. He is an integral player in both the winery and the vineyard, where his knowledge and experience come together in a way that makes everyone else’s jobs easier. He is on a constant quest to learn; in fact, he is nearly done with a Viticulture program at Yakima Valley Community College.

Tristan Butterfield

Enologist, Enviable Beard Grower

With a degree in Physics from Notre Dame, Tristan came to us after working as an Enologist at Hogue Cellars in Prosser. We have benefitted from his considerable skill and excellence since 2014. When it comes to the daily ins-and-outs of turning delicious grapes into delicious wine, Tristan is the guy. He is well into developing an eponymous Red Mountain-focused brand with his Dad.

Michele Clarke

Outside Sales, Hospitality, and Smiles

Michele is special in that she makes everyone around her feel special as well. She is considerate, kind, thoughtful, and quick with a smile, which made her the perfect person to send out into the world to spread the Red Mountain word. She has a Master's degree in natural health, which is pretty amazing. 

Brandon Gomez

Logistics and Operations, Cool T-Shirts

Brandon is a graduate of the Central Washington University wine program under the legendary Amy Mumma. His position defies traditional titles, as on any given day he may be topping off tanks or filling wine club boxes. He is an important behind-the-scenes guy, and someone who always has an awesome t-shirt that has to be explained to me.

Judy Matteson

Wine Club Conceirge

Judy is a Boise native and a PNW lifer, even though she spent some time living across the pond (which is pretty cool). She is a voracious reader and a proud grandmother. Judy enjoys walking her golden retriever, camping, hiking, a fun game of cribbage, and The Beatles. We appreciate her consistent organization and pleasantly delightful countenance.

Mellissa Whitaker

Outside Sales, Trivia Ringer

Mellissa retired from a 16-year career with the Marines as a Staff Sergeant to begin her second career in wine and grape growing. She has submerged herself in the industry as a part of the Kiona Family while working hard as a student of WSU’s Viticulture and Enology degree program. Her personality is akin to sunshine and rainbows and her post-service hobbies include all things Pinterest.

Vineyard Personnel

Adan Aguilar

Magdalena Aguilar

Ismael Aguilar

Mr. Jose Flores

Jesus Mariscal

Francisco Mejia

Josefina Mejia

Jose Mejia

Jorje Mejia

Pedro Mejia

Roberto Morales

Robert Scott

Tasting Room Staff

Alex Arteritano

Grant Bailey

Toni Day

Annie Fyfe

Rob Fyfe

Barbara Heard

Eldrick Hereford

Bree Jackson

Laura Jones

Kristin Kraemer

Jessica Leiser

Owen Leiser

Kelly Rees

Don Rickel

Beth Ruhland

Justin Trenidad

Alissa West

Betty Whitney

At the end of the day, It’s all about the wines. Browse our collection of Red Mountain and columbia valley originals.

The Wines