Metro/Handout 14 Hands Vineyards’ 2010 Hot To Trot Red Blend ($15.25 to $19.99) — a merlot-led fruit-bomb that will charm grilled meats and open your palate to alternative American wines.

California casts a shadow that makes it hard for anyone pressing grapes in other U.S. states to get noticed. So, though wine is made everywhere across the country, odds are you’ve only had Cali juice.

While there may be more exotic vine-growing locales, one of the coolest is Washington state — especially its Columbia Valley. I’m talking Clint Eastwood cool, folks. The landscape east of the Cascade mountain range reminds me of the backdrop for one of his spaghetti westerns.

How do they grow grapes in a desert? It’s all about water management and some innovative cultivation techniques that have secured Washington the number two spot in wine production behind The Golden State.

Single varietal Washington reds typically have a robust, meatiness to their flavours and really show off the rustic personality of their terrior. That attractive forwardness is tempered in mega combinations of grapes, like 14 Hands Vineyards’ 2010 Hot To Trot Red Blend ($15.25 to $19.99) — a merlot-led fruit-bomb that will charm grilled meats and open your palate to alternative American wines.

Prices reflect the range across the country. Some products may not be available in all provinces.

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