It is the Red Mountain reputation for quality that brought Doug Long
and his partners together to collaborate on a new winery and estate vineyard.
Betsy Long has seen it all since she and her late husband Doug planted grapes on Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley in 1971. After leaving Napa, she and Doug moved to WA with no plans to work in the wine industry. They were supposed to “retire”. However, she knew that could not stop the love of wine making that was ingrained in the heart of Doug. Soon after discovering Red Mountain WA, and understanding what great wines could be made from this fantastic terroir, the writing was on the wall. Together, they started Obelisco with good friends and partners that were later bought out. She supported the endeavors to go out and create the best wine possible and loved the passion that Doug put into the wines. Now, as owner, she endeavors to carry on the legacy.
Ken Abbott, GM and Winemaking Steward
Midway through college, I went to Napa to stay with my aunt and uncle in St. Helena. While I had gone to play tennis, I quickly fell in love with the wine industry. From my family, I learned about our wine making traditions and production, which have always stayed with me. After graduating from WSU in 1992, I worked outside of the industry in Real Estate, Finance and Development. Not long after, my uncle Doug, who had winemaking in his blood, relocated to Gig Harbor, WA from Napa Valley. He began telling me about Red Mountain and how special of a place it is for grapes. Doug was a visionary in this area and I was lucky enough to learn and work with Doug for a long time. Slowly, I got more and more involved in the business aspects and production of Obelisco wine and eventually Doug asked me to be the GM of the winery. My hero, godfather, and friend, Doug, passed in 2017. As the GM, I carry on the family tradition of producing wine at Obelisco with my Aunt Betsy and as a steward of the family’s style of wines. In honor of Doug, I and my amazing team at Obelisco carry on the love to help people “Celebrate Life.”
“Obelisk, was a term that was synonymous with protection or defense. The needle of the obelisk has been said to perforate the clouds and disperse the negative forces that could gather into a storm.”
Obelisco Estate is a small 30 acre vineyard located on the southwest slope of Red Mountain. It’s name venerates the tall, narrow four-sided obelisks that were carved out of solid granite by exceptional craftsmen as early as 2000 B.C. In much the same way, our wines have been carved out of Red Mountain terroir.
We often look to history for examples of intriguing notions. How have humans left their mark on places of discovery? How have we announced ourselves, our presence, to the world? As early as 2000 B.C., obelisks were quarried out of solid red granite along the banks of the Nile in Egypt and ferried by boats buoyed by flood waters to their destinations, where they were erected as monuments. To this day, obelisks are icons reminiscent of civilizations past.
As a general rule, obelisks were erected in pairs and served to magically protect the temples. The obelisk is composed of two parts: the body and the pyramidion. The pyramid shaped top was designed to allow the sun to reflect from its faces, thereby symbolizing the rays of the sun. The egyptians believe the solar rays brought great power, even to the grave and had the power to resurrect the deceased.
The main 30 acre vineyard, designed and planted for the sole purpose of producing intensely complex, elegant and rich red wines, is located on the southwest facing slope bathed in sunlight throughout long daylight hours, with cool nights and the moderating effect of the Yakima River below. Obelisco Estate vineyard is perfectly situated to grow world class grapes noted for their structure, acidity and intense varietal character. The vineyard is one of the most intensely planted vineyards in the Northwest.
The vineyard is located in the red Mountain terrior which is known for some of the best growing conditions for Bordeaux varietals in North America. The unusual soil depths and ideal cumulative maturation time are in-matched in Washington.
In 1971 Doug and his two brothers planted their first vineyard high above Napa Valley on a property their father had purchased years earlier without any idea that the property was perfect for grapes. Doug and his brothers figured it out quickly and with encouragement from nearby wine makers, they began their adventure. By 1980, their reputation for fine grapes was growing quickly and in 1981 they started their first winery called David Arthur that we ont to be named “Winery of the Decade” by spectator in the year 2000. The 1997 vintage scored 99 points.
Doug and his wife Betsy attempted to “retire” to Gig Harbor Wa. They soon after discovered Red Mountain and immediately recognized how special it was. With wine making in his blood, Doug could not resist and soon planted one of the most intensely planted vineyards in the wine world on Red Mountain.
The first vintage was 2007. The vines were young, but after sampling from the barrels and realizing that there was something special, the first bottling took place. The first offering was named “Best cabernet in the state” by Seattle Magazine and also received the esteemed “Double Gold” from the seattle Wine Awards. The Obelisco vineyard theory was now a reality.
It appears that ancient Egypt had the equivalent of French Appellation Controlee laws. There was a “Royal Sealer of Wine” who overlooked the honest labeling laws, much of what you find on the wine labels today was on the labels of ancient egypt. These include:
- Name of the Estate
- Type of wine
- Date of Vintage
- Vinterns name
- Assessment of Quality
An example of such a wine label is the “Star of Horus” on the “Height of Heaven” vineyard. The vineyard started around 2600 B.C. and lasted until 300 A.D. The Northern Xois District, produced a wine called “Chassut Red” and it was reputed to not be ready to drink until it had aged 100 years.
Keeping a wine for years to mature was not all that uncommon. In the annex of Tutankhamun’s tomb, 36 wine jars were found and each bore a docket and hieratic giving the date, place and vintage of the wine and showing the Aten Domain Vineyard wines to me maintained for at least 21 years.
Egyptian wines were rated as good (nfr), twice good (nfr, nfr) and three times good (nfr, nfr, nfr). The III Nfr was reserved for the pharaoh and the gods. Ancient Egyptian writing contained no vowels. To aid in pronunciation, it is common to add the letter “e” between the consonants, therefore nfr becomes Nefer. Nefer stands for all that is good and beautiful.
Electrum is an alloy of gold, silver and other precious metals. It was crafted into coins and jewelry. More importantly it was carefully layered on the pyramidion at the top of the Pharaohs obelisks where it reflected the sun in honor of the sun god Re.
This wine, named after the alloy of the gods, is a blend like metal, Cabernet (gold) Merlot (Silver) and Malbec (copper). The hand-picked fruit from the estate’s best lots have been crafted and aged in French Oak to create a distinctive blend that represents the finest expression of Obelisco Estate.