Cabernet Franc rising in the Northwest

Cabernet Franc is grown in Red Willow Vineyard in Washington state's Yakima Valley.

One of the first stand-alone Cabernet Francs made in Washington came from Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Of the six classic red Bordeaux grape varieties, interest in Cabernet Franc seems to be rising in the Pacific Northwest, with more being planted, being used in blends, and more being bottled as a stand-alone wine.

In 2016, Washington winemakers brought in 4,300 tons of Cabernet Franc, that’s up a bit from the previous harvest and up nearly 1,000 tons from a decade ago.

Cabernet Franc is considered a blender in it’s native Bordeaux, and that’s how winemakers view it in Washington. The grape tends to add a spiciness and herbal notes to Cabernet, while also smoothing out Cabernet’s famous tannins. Winemakers see it as a spice to use to add complexity in the cellar.

While there is no movement to plant a lot of new Cabernet Franc (like there is with Malbec), whenever a new planting of Cabernet goes in somewhere, count on a few rows of Cabernet Franc being part of the mix.

Here are a handful of Cabernet Francs we’ve tasted recently that we recommend trying. Ask for them at you’re favorite wine merchant, or contact the winery directly.

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