“We have been making single-vineyard wines from Conner Lee Vineyard for over 15 years. Our relationship with this remarkable winegrowing site runs about as deep as possible without having planted the vines ourselves. I knew I wanted to work with grapes from Conner Lee Vineyard long before we ever made our first bottle of wine. Even back then, Conner Lee was considered one of Washington State’s greatest vineyards. In the years since, this reputation has only grown, which has been exciting to see and be a part of.
We made our first Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay in our debut 2000 vintage. The following year, we used Conner Lee’s Merlot and Cabernet Franc in our 2001 Buty Merlot & Cabernet Franc. Grapes from Conner Lee have been pivotal to this wine ever since, and in 2011 our Merlot & Cabernet Franc became a Conner Lee vineyard-designate, which is something we are very proud of.
Originally planted in the early 1980s, Conner Lee is located at an elevation of approximately 2,000 feet, on the plateau of Radar Hill south of Othello, Washington. It’s a cool vineyard in a warm, sunny region, which makes it ideal for our style of winemaking. In its Eastern Washington desert environment, the spring and fall nights can be 50 degrees cooler than the daytime temperatures. The hot summer ripens the fruit, while the diurnal swings and the cooler late-season temperatures keep the acids high and the pH low.
Conner Lee’s Cabernet Franc was planted in 1991, with the Merlot planted the following year. While the site is perfect for these varieties, the human team is equally important. It is farmed for the Conner and Lee families by Jerry Bookwalter (of Bookwalter Winery) and Tom Thorsen. The attention to detail at Conner Lee in pruning, canopy design and thinning is second to none, resulting in exceptional fruit year after year." - Nina Buty