190512-yh-bl-take5 1.jpg

Phil Cline, owner of Naches Heights Vineyard, poses for a portrait in one of his vineyards on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 in Yakima, Wash.

Fruit farming in the Yakima Valley is practically in Phil Cline’s DNA.

Cline, owner of Naches Heights Vineyard, is a third-generation farmer whose family has grown tree fruit and wine grapes. In 2002, Cline expanded the family business to make wine, and released his first vintage in 2006.

His 2015 Albariño won best of class in the 2019 Savor NW Wine Awards, while his 2017 Guinevere Gewurztraminer won gold. In addition to being sold through his website, Cline’s wines can also be found at several vendors, including Wray’s Grocery in Yakima and Seattle’s Pike Place

Market.

Cline grows wine grapes in both the Yakima Valley and the Naches Heights area, which he was able to have designated as an American Viticultural Area in 2012, making it the 12th AVA in Washington state.

In addition to farming organically, Cline’s vineyard is also LIVE and Salmon-Safe certified, which requires using environment-friendly methods for fertilizing, controlling weeds and preventing pests.

Cline has been in the business for

18 years, and his vineyard and tasting room employs 26 people.

How did you become a winemaker?

I am not a winemaker. I am a grape grower. I have two talented winemakers producing my wines for me. I would just screw it up.

Were there any hurdles you had to overcome as you started your winery and broke into the business?

Knowledge and money are always in short supply.

How important was it to have LIVE and Salmon Safe certifications for your wines?

I live on my vineyard and I want to be a good steward of the land like my grandfather and father before me. We have far more knowledge about what goes on in the soil than we ever had before, and I want to make sure that we make the microorganisms in the soil happy so that, in turn, the plants living there are happy and healthy as well.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?

Everything I know now would have been handy earlier.

What is your favorite wine?

Riesling for white and syrah for red.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist/