A Lavish Cab Sauv Direct from the Horse Heaven Hills

When Jeff Andrews, proprietor and fourth-generation farmer at Andrews Family Vineyards reached out to winemaker Ray McKee to float the idea of making the finest expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from his best blocks, McKee could instantly imagine what that wine could be.

“It became very clear that Jeff’s idea of that wine was exactly the same as mine — a world class Cabernet Sauvignon that was a distinct expression of our Horse Heaven Hills AVA terroir, made without reservations, constraints or compromises,” says McKee. “My personal inspiration was a deep-rooted and well-researched belief that Washington wine grapes are among the best in the world, and the resulting wines could be as well.”

It soon became clear that the vision was a shared one. 

“I love Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Andrews. “As a varietal, it has the wonderful ability to completely capture and express a site’s terroir and tell the story of each vintage.”

The Horse Heaven Hills AVA, with its rugged landscape and deep canyons, has been the source of some of the most highly regarded wines produced in the world, with many acclaimed wineries sourcing their wines from the region, earning awards and accolades. Yet, it is quite understated and unsung, especially when you consider the remarkable terroir. 

The Horse Heaven Hills

The result of this collaboration between McKay and Andrews (and, too, this unique AVA) is Trothe, which has quickly built a reputation for being a world-class producer of one of the most beloved red wines of the world. Lavish Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington state? We’re here for it. At its heart, Trothe reflects the farmer’s connection to the land. From tending to the vines to bottling the finished product, it is all a cherished, one-team process every step of the way.  

“We’ve known for years that we have the grape quality to produce a wine that would sit at the table with the finest wines of the world, and we believe we did just that with Trothe,” says Andrews. “It was developed by sourcing the best fruit from our site, identifying not only the best blocks, but the best rows, and even the best vines that winemakers have gravitated to over the years. We aim to be true to our site and produce a wine that represents our place while embracing the nuances of each vintage.”

Where does this unusual name come from? “Trothe is a Middle English variant for fidelity. It’s a word that encapsulates everything we do, whether in the vineyard or winery or in engaging with customers and wine lovers,” says Andrews. “Our entire team, family history, site and dedication to stewarding our land are a big part of what makes Trothe, Trothe.”

Left: The Andrews Family | Right: Jeff Andrews and Winemaker Ray McKee

There is a whole team working behind the scenes at Trothe, including a vineyard crew with individuals who have been with the Andrews family for 20 to 40 years. “It imparts a sense of perspective upon those of us working within the operation,” says Andrews as he reflects on the most rewarding aspects of multi-generation farming. “We view everything through the lens of history — both of the family and of the property — and, at the same time, with an eye to the future and passing ownership to the next generation. Decisions in the field and in the winery are based on a firm commitment: that when we do pass our ground on to our children, it is a better place than when it was passed to us. This perspective allows us to view challenges a little differently. When faced with an obstacle, I can refer to the library of lessons learned throughout my family’s history — challenges my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents faced, and how they dealt with them.”

About 600 three-packs of the first vintage were sold direct-to-consumer only by allocation last fall. The response for the wine has been exceptional — reviews, tasting notes and customer feedback are filled with praise. The initial launch last year was 100% online through social media, email and website due to COVID-19 precautions. More than 50% of customers are from outside of Washington — from Florida, New York, Texas and all over the United States. At $190 a bottle, where you don’t get to taste the wine before purchase, it is such a huge leap of faith taken by a customer, and reflects directly the goodwill and credibility amassed by the Andrews family over so many decades. 

The Andrews family recently hosted a blind tasting of premier Cabernet producers from around the world at Lark, one of Seattle’s hottest dining spots. The tasting featured touchstone Cabernet Sauvignons from Bordeaux, Australia, California and, of course, Trothe, proudly representing the Pacific Northwest. The wine list included 2018 Trothe Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, 2017 Vasse Felix Tom Cullity and 2018 Dominus. This of course begs the essential question — did the tasters know which wine was from where? Well, it was nearly unanimous. A resounding nod went around the table — yes, Trothe more than stands among the best of the best Cabernet Sauvignons of the world.

So, where to buy the next vintage release for this exclusive wine? Just in time for Fall-sipping, their 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, 185 cases, will go on sale to members on September 9. It’s sold in 3-packs for $585. They only sell directly to members since they want the people who drink their wines to be part of their story. You can become a member here

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills AVA

This budding Cab Sauv wafts with aromas of ripe bell pepper and bright cherry. Savory flavors reminiscent of cracked black pepper, herbs de provence and leather are threaded through the palate and are followed by a subtle blackberry and oak finish.

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven HIlls AVA

Intriguingly different from its latter vintage, the Trothe 2018 Cab Sauv lends a bouquet of rich dark fruit and cedar. Notes of mushroom, black currant and earth linger in the full body mouthfeel, for an overall well balanced wine.

Tasting notes by Victoria Barr