Snipes Mountain was named after cattle king Ben Snipes, one of the first settlers of the Yakima Valley. In the 1850’s he located his vast cattle business headquarters on the south side of Snipes Mountain, the highest point in the Valley, providing  a panoramic view of the Yakima Valley  and his vast herds of cattle. The mountain also provided a little more protection from the elements of Mother Nature than the rest of the valley.

In 1917 William B. Bridgman, two-time mayor of Sunnyside and author of many of the Yakima Valley’s irrigation laws, planted vinifera wine grapes on Snipes Mountain and, earlier, had planted table grapes on Harrison Hill, an extension of Snipes Mountain.  Bridgman anticipated the eventual increase in wine grape demand in spite of prohibition, continued to plant more, and in 1934 opened Upland Winery, the first winery in eastern Washington. Due to financial constraints, he was forced to sell the winery in 1960 and in 1972 it was closed.  Bridgman’s vineyards and wine production influenced Dr. Walter Clore, often referred to as the “Father of Washington Wine”. Dr. Clore was essential to the development of the wine industry to its the current state.  See  Ronald Irvine’s book, The Wine Project: Washington State’s Wine Making History

In 1972 my grandfather, Alfred Newhouse, bought the land and vineyards that were once known as Upland Vineyards. Over the following decades, my Grandfather and my Father, Steve Newhouse, gradually expanded their holdings on both Snipes Mountain and Harrison Hill. Today the Alfred Newhouse family farms cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, prunes, pears, apples, juice grapes, table grapes, and of course wine grapes. The farm, once again called Upland VIneyards, is approximately 1000 acres with more than 400 acres of wine grapes which are grown in some of the most unique soils in the world. Because of these unique Snipes Mountain growing conditions, in 2009 the TTB (federal government) designated Snipes Mountain  as a distinct American Viticulture Area (AVA), the tenth AVA in the State of Washington.

by Todd Newhouse

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