Playful Experimentation Reigns at Savage Grace Wines

Fellow winemakers nod to this Washington vintner as one of the most innovative producers in the region.

MICHAEL SAVAGE HAS A PHILOSOPHY: “Be open-minded. Come with a plan, then when it all goes to hell, make another plan.” This mantra has served him well as the owner, grower, and winemaker of Savage Grace, a 42-acre vineyard perched on Underwood Mountain on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.

“I want to make wines that aren’t repeats, wines that haven’t been done before,” he says. 

That starts with a two-acre parcel he calls “The Experimental Red Block,” planted to field blends of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, zweigelt, and Syrah. He sometimes creates blends he jokingly calls “Brian Eno wines” that are always a bit of a surprise. “For some reason, everything that comes out of that block turns out to be something that just tastes like it all should go together,” he says. “It’s what Underwood Mountain tastes like in a red wine.” 

A die-hard Riesling fan, he was originally drawn to the region by its Riesling grapes, and swiftly expanded to organically planting varieties like Grüner Veltliner, furmint, cabernet franc, and zweigelt, as well as standards like chardonnay, pinot gris, and merlot. He is deep into developing a “secret” grape variety that he says is not yet planted in the Gorge, which he fervently attests will remain secret until it takes. Read the complete article here on Portland Monthly.

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