Washington’s great vineyards: Boushey Vineyard

By on August 29, 2013
Dick Boushey owns Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley of Washington state.

Dick Boushey is owner of Boushey Vineyard in Washington’s Yakima Valley. He began planting wine grapes in 1980. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

GRANDVIEW, Wash. – Dick Boushey’s plan was to live in the Yakima Valley for one year. That was in 1975.

Like many from the west side of Washington, the wide-open spaces and near-constant blue skies attracted him and have kept Boushey here for near 40 years.

Today, Boushey, 62, is one of the top viticulturists in the United States. Not bad for a kid from the Tacoma suburb of Sumner who wanted to be a banker.

“I had an uncle who farmed over here,” he said. “Dad always liked the Yakima Valley and wanted to move here.”

The family bought an apple orchard, and Boushey, who graduated from the University of Puget Sound, moved over first, planning to stay for just one year.

“The one year turned into four years,” he told Great Northwest Wine. “Then I met Luanne (his wife). She grew up in Bellevue and moved here for two years for a teaching job. We’re still here.”

Budding wine industry inspires Boushey Vineyard

Dick Boushey owns Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley near Grandview, Washington.

Dick Boushey holds a cluster of grapes in his vineyard. Boushey was inspired to grow grapes after moving to the Yakima Valley in 1975. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Back then, there wasn’t much to the Washington wine industry. But Boushey, who already had cultivated a love for wine, met many of the legends of the industry, including Dr. Walter Clore, a Washington State University researcher known as “the father of Washington wine.” He also met Mike Wallace, who was just starting Hinzerling Winery in nearby Prosser, as well as Chaz Nagel, a WSU scientist who worked closely with Clore.

But Boushey wasn’t so sure the Washington wine industry was really viable until he tasted the legendary Chateau Ste. Michelle 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that proved great reds could be made here.

“That was so good,” he said. “So I sort of took the gamble, and it turned out.”

Boushey began planting wine grapes on his farm north of Grandview. It wasn’t – and still isn’t – the most sexy area of Washington to grow wine grapes, but it has turned out to be one of the best.

“There was a grape culture here, and there wasn’t in other places,” he said. “It was almost all row crops in Mattawa and the Horse Heavens.”

Otis Vineyard, planted in 1957 by Otis Harlan, is not far from Boushey Vineyard, and that also attracted him to planting wine grapes.

In 1980, Boushey put his first vines in the ground, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.

“Nobody wanted Chenin Blanc, and it got botrytis,” Boushey said, so he pulled it out and stuck exclusively with red grapes for the next two decades.

Syrah becomes a focus at Boushey Vineyard

Dick Boushey grows Syrah at Boushey Vineyard in Grandview, Washington.

Dick Boushey is one of the most important Syrah growers in Washington, selling fruit to such wineries as Betz Family Winery, DeLille Cellars and Efeste. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

After a few years, Boushey became interested in Syrah.

“What hooked me was I was over at Columbia Winery, and I wanted to try David Lake’s 1988 Syrah,” Boushey said. “This was the best wine I’d had in a long time, and I wanted to grow some of it.”

He couldn’t get any plants, but by 1993, he convinced Mike Sauer, owner of Red Willow Vineyard, to provide him with some cuttings. Sauer had planted the first Syrah in the state in 1985, and that is what made the 1988 Syrah that Boushey tasted at Columbia.

“It has done really well,” he said.

Boushey Vineyard’s site is much cooler than Red Mountain, which is less than 30 miles to the east. The difference in ripening time can be two to three weeks, which winemakers love for flavor development.

The first winemaker to take Boushey Vineyard’s Syrah was Doug McCrea of McCrea Cellars in Olympia. Today, the big players include Betz Family Winery, DeLille Cellars, Ross Andrew, Avennia, Forgeron Cellars and Efeste. He now grows more than 38 acres of Syrah – and wishes the block was larger.

“Everybody tells me Syrah is overdone, but I’m always short in Syrah,” he said.

Overall, Boushey has planted 160 acres of wine grapes, of which 15 percent is white varieties. Starting in 2003, he began planting such Rhône whites as Marsanne, Roussanne, Picpoul, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. He also grows Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, which he sells primarily to DeLille.

Boushey also grows another 140 acres of apples, cherries and juice grapes. He is a big deal in juice grapes, sitting on the board of directors for National Grape, the farmers cooperative that has owned Welch’s since 1952. With about 200,000 tons harvested annually, Washington is the nation’s largest grower of Concord grapes.

Boushey turns attention to Red Mountain

Dick Boushey is the vineyard manager for Col Solare on Red Mountain. He owns Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.

Col Solare is a Red Mountain winery co-owned by Antinori of Italy and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington. Dick Boushey is the vineyard manager. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

In addition to his home vineyard, Boushey also has branched into other areas of the Yakima Valley. A few years ago, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates recruited him to manage its Col Solare estate vineyard on Red Mountain. Now he also manages Red Mountain vineyards for Fidelitas Wines, Ambassador, Upchurch, Efeste and Thurtle – a total of 175 acres of grapes in the most premium region of Washington wine country. He’s also working with Hamilton Cellars to pull out an orchard on Red Mountain and replant it next spring with wine grapes.

“I hate to tell all of them this, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said with a laugh.

Charlie Hoppes, owner of Fidelitas, uses grapes from Boushey’s vineyard as well as several on Red Mountain.

“Dick has a great ability to balance crop and canopy,” Hoppes said. “He knows he’s in a cooler site, and he’s patient. He has a lot of wisdom, and he’s not one to panic. He just lets things get ripe.”

Hoppes said Boushey loves the winemaking side of the business, and that helps make him a superior grower.

“More than any other grower, Dick understands wine,” Hoppes said. “He drinks wine. He has a different perspective than other people. He’s pretty dialed in on the wine side.”

Boushey has been a home winemaker since 1975, and he loves sitting in on blending sessions with winemakers.

“That’s really helped me to be a better grower,” Boushey said. “I understand the chemistry. That’s why I like working with the winemaker – you can go back and tweak things in the vineyard.”

So might there be a Boushey Winery one day? The thought crosses his mind constantly.

“I think I don’t have time,” he said. “Maybe someday. It would be fun, but then I’d have to sell it.”

Plus, Boushey loves what he does now.

“I’m going to farm until I fall off the tractor.”

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

27 Comments

  1. […] has hired Dick Boushey to plant and farm the vineyard. Boushey, arguably the top grape grower in Washington, manages […]

  2. […] vineyard manager is Dick Boushey, arguably the top grape grower in Washington. He owns Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and manages several vineyards on Red Mountain, including Col Solare, […]

  3. […] Valley farmer Dick Boushey began planting his vineyards in 1980, and while he’s become famous for Rhône grapes, he’s also […]

  4. […] and more on using grapes from Red Mountain, including its own estate vineyard, which is managed by Dick Boushey, one of the state’s top grape […]

  5. […] Dick Boushey, considered one of Washington’s top grape growers, manages Col Solare and was hired by Duckhorn to plant and manage Longwinds. That connection helped with the temporary relationship. […]

  6. […] purchased a few acres of land on Red Mountain at an auction. They hired famed grape grower Dick Boushey to plant and manage the vineyard, and they have now built a building that serves as a small winery, […]

  7. […] has been able to work with many of the top grape growers in Washington, including Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards, Jim Holmes of Ciel du Cheval, Patricia and David Gelles of Klipsun Vineyards, Scott Williams of […]

  8. […] Solare sits on a 40-acre site surrounded by about 30 acres of estate vines tended by Dick Boushey, one of the state’s finest viticulturists. The architecture of the winery represents a […]

  9. […] Eastern Washington and Oregon, Patterson uses grapes from such vineyards as Willard and Boushey in the Yakima Valley, Seven Hills in the Walla Walla Valley and Ambassador, Quintessence, Corvus, […]

  10. […] Gilles Nicault, Duval gains access to perhaps the Columbia Valley’s best source for Syrah — Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Dick Boushey’s Syrah vines, first planted in 1993, have been a primary […]

  11. […] year, Wisniewski was able to begin bringing in Syrah from famed Yakima Valley grape grower Dick Boushey, and he is excited to see what that will […]

  12. […] been a little bit of frost in spots,” said Dick Boushey, who owns Boushey Vineyard north of the Yakima Valley town of Grandview and also manages several vineyards on Red Mountain. […]

  13. […] week, famed grape grower Dick Boushey was installing 9 acres of red Bordeaux grapes in front of Fidelitas Wines, bringing owner Charlie […]

  14. […] Hedges and Sarah Goedhart of Hedges Family Estate, Joanne Dunham of Dunham Cellars, growers Dick Boushey and Kent Waliser of Sagemoor Farms, Rob McKinney, vice-president of operations for Ste. Michelle […]

  15. […] planted their 9-acre estate vineyard under the direction of famed Yakima Valley grape grower Dick Boushey. Getting him involved was not easy until he had a chance to look at the […]

  16. […] are a lot of nice people in the industry,” Paul said. “Dick Boushey helped arrange to have our property ripped three feet down, and then Dick’s crew came out and […]

  17. […] heat is testing everybody,” said Dick Boushey, owner of Boushey Vineyard near the Yakima Valley town of Grandview. “I’m not a fan of these super warm […]

  18. […] So she blended Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot from Dionysus with a bit of Merlot from Boushey Vineyard in […]

  19. […] Meanwhile, Hoppes’ crew is cleaning tanks and getting ready to bottle about 5,000 cases of Fidelitas wines before harvest gears up. He’s also keeping an eye on his new estate vineyard, which was planted in May by Yakima Valley grape grower Dick Boushey. […]

  20. […] Hamiltons hired renowned grape grower Dick Boushey to plant their vineyard to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. […]

  21. […] couldn’t buy quickly enough. He worked with some of the top vineyards in the state, including Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red […]

  22. […] Boushey is the owner of Boushey Vineyard in Washington’s Yakima Valley. He began planting his vineyard north of the town of Grandview […]

  23. […] alum Chris Peterson made a big splash with his debut 2010 vintage of Syrah from  renowned grower Dick Boushey, and he’s recently released one of the state’s best examples from the first of three […]

  24. […] “Dick Boushey, I love that guy to death, and he and his wife, Luanne, just bend over backward for us,” Sullivan said. “Marshall (Edwards) at Quintessence has been fun to work with. And Damon just farms great fruit, too.” […]

  25. […] Dick Boushey, recognized as one of Washington’s best and longest-tenured grape growers, was pleased with the seminar. […]

  26. […] in late 2013 and planted it in early 2014 under the guidance of acclaimed Washington grape grower Dick Boushey. It was planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as […]

  27. […] Dick Boushey, who farms his vineyard in the Yakima Valley, as well as several on Red Mountain, pointed out the wet winter and spring also led to mildew pressure, damaging mostly white varieties. He observed this to be a widespread problem. […]

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