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Double Canyon in the Horse Heaven Hills has named Jason Ledbetter as its winemaker. Ledbetter comes from Napa Valley’s Pine Ridge Vineyards where he spent four years as assistant winemaker.

“I’m thrilled to be involved with this exciting new project,” Ledbetter said.

Crimson Wine Group, owners of Pine Ridge Vineyards as well as several other wineries, acquired the Double Canyon property in 2005. The vineyard is adjacent to Champoux Vineyard and is farmed by Will Beightol whose father manages nearby Phinny Hill.

Double Canyon released its first wine, a 2010 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, last year with a second vintage due out this spring (read my Wine Enthusiast review of the initial release here). The wines have thus far been made by Pine Ridge winemaker Michael Beaulac at a custom crush facility in the Walla Walla Valley.

Prior to joining Pine Ridge, Ledbetter received a BS in viticulture and enology from UC Davis and interned at Cakebread Cellars and Trefethen Family Vineyards. He said of the latter, “UC Davis gave me a broad understanding of fermentation science and the science of winemaking but Trefethen was where I really learned how to taste wine.”

At Pine Ridge, Ledbetter started out working with Beaulac to blend the 2009 vintage wines and subsequently assisted with the 2010 through 2013 wines. These included a series of five appellation-specific Cabernet Sauvignons. Ledbetter plans to leverage that experience in his new position.

“My goal is always to make a wine that competes on the world stage,” he said. “I also want to make a wine that showcases what the area tastes like.” Here Ledbetter noted the distinctive structure and acid of the Horse Heaven Hills.

“What I’ve always seen from Washington - and I won’t be the first to say this - is it’s a true mix of Bordeaux and Napa. You get a lot of fruit components that you do in Napa but you also get this great acidity that you get in Bordeaux. You definitely see that in the Horse Heaven Hills wines which are extremely structured and have this great acid."

Ledbetter begins work at Double Canyon immediately and will move to Washington full time later this year.

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