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Washington Wine Month Stop #20: McKinley Springs Winery

McKinley Springs Winery, our 20th stop on our Washington Winery tour, is a family affair who specialize in a large number of varietals.

Yet, their Cabernet Sauvignon is the one that people seem to remember the most.

I remember their Bombing Range Red for its tribute to history as well as the aromatic experience.

Discover which McKinley Springs wine will become your favorite.

About the Winery:

Over 60 years ago Louise and Bob Andrews began farming the land her parents had acquired after World War II. They planted grapes in 1980, and soon after developed an award-winning reputation for the vineyard’s wines. In 1986, three of their children, Rob, Sandy and Scott, and their spouses, founded Andrews and Rowell with the mission of continuing the family farming tradition. They established McKinley Springs Winery in 2002 with a goal of producing balanced, flavorful wines offering excellent value. Today, four members of the fourth generation are also involved in the family business.

McKinley Springs grows over 20 varietals on its 2000 acre estate vineyard in the southern part of Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills. The region’s arid climate, high winds and low density vineyards provide ideal growing conditions. The family’s dedication to quality remains, evidenced by investment in vineyard technology. For example, shoot length indicators and water monitoring sites are implanted in all 200 blocks to help determine ideal watering times.

Rob Andrews, grower, tends to the vineyards and Doug Rowell, winemaker, oversees production. Together they make 10 wines, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chenin Blanc. McKinley Springs also supplies 25 noted area wineries with grapes, including Andrew Rich, Northstar, Syncline, Hogue and Columbia Crest. Visitors to the winery may walk its pristine vineyards and sample wines in the tasting room, located in a two-story post and beam building.

About the Vineyards:

At McKinley Springs estate wines come from their 2000 acre vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills, an area acclaimed for its fine wines and unique location. The Horse Heaven Hills is bordered in the north by the Yakima hill, to the south by the Columbia River, and surrounded by the larger Columbia Valley appellation. The winds from the Columbia River protect against vine diseases and provide a cooling effect that concentrates fruit flavors, while the south facing slopes provide optimum growing conditions.

Since they own their vineyards, this gives them more quality control over the growing and production aspects of the business. They first planted in 1980 and today have over 200 different blocks of vineyards, the majority of which are on south-facing slopes ranging from 800 to 1200 feet. The soils are silt loam with a deep layer of broken basalt which controls water by absorbing excess moisture. There is granite rock throughout due to the Missoula glacial floods, which washed in rock from Montana during the last ice age.

They currently grow more than 20 different grape varieties and specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, Barbera, Chenin Blanc and Viognier. The arid conditions, winds and combination of cool winters and warm summers with extended sunlight hours lend a perfect climate for growing grapes.

Rob Andrews, McKinley Springs’ grower, is continually searching for ways to improve the quality of their grapes. Interestingly, one of the original plantings from 1980, Cabernet Sauvignon, is still farmed.

About the Wines:

Chenin Blanc

McKinley Springs is one of the few Washington producers crafting Chenin Blanc, a dry crisp white. The wine comes from one of their original 1981 plantings.

Fermented dry in stainless steel tanks and aged sur lie.

Tasting Note
A pale yellow wine with aromas of pear, peach and honeysuckle with flavors of crisp green apple and lemon-lime zest. Finishing with a subtle spice and great minerality.

Oysters on the half shell or light pasta salad.

Cabernet Sauvignon

A blend of the original “old block” planted in 1980, and newer block 17, it has some Petit Verdot added for color.

Aged 18 months in 33 percent new oak barrels (75 percent French and 25 percent American).

Tasting Note
A garnet red wine with sage brush, cinnamon and earthy aromas. It sings with dark black cherry fruit, dark chocolate raspberry truffle, and a hint of spice.

Enjoy with a fatty cowboy Rib eye steak right off the grill or pasta with tomato sauce.


A balanced wine with flavors of citrus and lime, it has a lingering dried apricot finish and is great with BBQ shrimp. It comes from vineyard blocks 12 and 13, planted in 2003.

Aged sur lie in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Note
A pale straw yellow wine with aromas of honeysuckle and poached pear. Flavors of citrus and lime with nice minerality on the finish and lingering dried apricot.

Organic greens with prosciutto and blue cheese dressed with honey olive oil, or BBQ shrimp.


With blackberry, cocoa and some earthy notes, our Syrah is a perfect pairing with duck or beef.

Co-fermented with 4 percent Viognier, a common practice in France’s Rhône Valley that adds bright fruit flavors. Aged 18 months in 25 percent new oak (75 percent French and 25 percent American).

Tasting Note
Deep garnet color with cocoa, cola and earth aromas.  It has dense blueberry, leather, and cured meat flavors. The finish is rich, dense and almost chewy.

Oven braised Duck with fennel gratin or beef stuffed bell peppers with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.


This blend of Chenin Blanc (63 percent) and Viognier (37 percent) is named after the confluence at the east end of the Horse Heaven Hills where the Yakima, Snake and Columbia Rivers join.

Fermented and aged sur lie in stainless steel tanks. A small portion of the Chenin Blanc saw new oak to give it structure and a richer mouthfeel.

Tasting Note
Brilliant yellow color with white flower, pear and grapefruit rind aromas. Lemon lime citrus, orange zest and juicy apple flavors lead to a long, smooth finish with the perfect touch of acidity.

Irresistible with Sushi or fresh Crab.


Silky, with blackberry, blueberry and clove flavors.

Aged 18 months in 20 percent new French oak barrels.

Tasting Note
Inky black wine with an inviting nose of blackberry jam, cinnamon sticks and clove. On the palate there are blueberry flavors and a bold spiciness. It finishes with good tannic structure, length and a pleasant peppery note.

Delicious with grilled lamb or chili.

Bombing Range Red

This blend of estate Syrah (52 percent), Cabernet Sauvignon (40 percent), Petit Verdot (4 percent), and Malbec (4 percent) is their tribute to the American troops and the Horse Heaven Hills’ colorful history. The area was used as a fighter pilot training ground during World War II.

Aged in neutral oak barrels for 10 months.

Tasting Note
A deep garnet wine with coffee bean, dark fruit aromas and a hint of rosemary. Rich blackberry, mocha and currant flavors with a long dry balanced finish.

This is a great food wine — enjoy it with a Texas brisket style BBQ sandwich or vegetable stew.

Petit Verdot

Typically blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add deep color, this wine was outstanding on its own so they decided to bottle it as a single variety.

Aged 23 months 40 percent new oak all Alain Fouquet French oak barrels.

Tasting Note
A deep purple wine with black fruit and lavender aromas. On the palate it has delicious blackberry, Marion berry, tobacco and a hint of smoked meats. It is well structured and refined.

Pork spare ribs, hearty casserole or mature cheeses.

McKinley Springs Winery

1201 Alderdale Rd
Prosser, Washington 99350

Phone Number: 509.894.4528

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    Theresa Dillon

    Theresa Dillon
    Theresa Dillon earned her bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. In her spare time she enjoys reading, attending concerts, weekly trivia nights, watching movies (especially her favorite The Wizard of Oz), and of course wine.