An Unlikely Beginning
When George and Mabel Smith first purchased a place of their own in the Horse Heaven Hills, the locals thought they must be crazy. Despite having worked in the area for years, they purchased 7,800 acres in the driest part of the region—an area well known as some of the worst farmland around. The bad luck appeared to be piling on, as the U.S. Navy seized the land for artillery training during World War II. After the war, however, George set to work growing dryland wheat crops.
Water Runs Deep
Just a few years later, the Smith's daughter Louise joined what would become the family homestead with her husband, Bob Andrews. While few (if any) farmers in the interior Horse Heaven Hills had access to water at this time, Bob knew that water would be key to the farm's future. The family ultimately decided to drill for water—a huge risk that paid off when they struck "liquid gold" in the late 1950s. As Bob worked on irrigation and infrastructure over the next 20 years, they raised registered cattle and grew a variety of traditional crops.
A Family Divided
What had become the Andrews family farm operation thrived for many years, until the cattle business faced tough times in the late 1970s. While Bob's son Mike wasn't ready to give up on cattle, the rest of the family wanted to move in another direction. The land was split, and Mike took a section of land that his brothers didn't want in order to continue raising cattle. Ironically, they had given him what turned out to be some of the best grape growing property in all of Washington.
When 20 Acres Changed Everything
Over the next 14 years, Mike watched as his father and siblings grew their vineyard operation next door. When he was approached by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to plant 20 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, he jumped at the opportunity. Within three short years, he had partnered with his father to found Coyote Canyon Vineyard, and together they grew the operation to 450 acres over the next 12 years. They made their mark on the industry by planting many unique and lesser-known varieties, including: Counoise, Cinsault, Graciano, Nebbiolo, and Albariño. The business was thriving, and Mike started Coyote Canyon Winery as his own, separate venture.
Looking Toward the Future
When Jeff Andrews joined Mike and Bob at Coyote Canyon Vineyard, he was fresh out of law school and ready to lend a business/legal mindset to the family operation. Technology and mechanization would set the farm up for success in years to come, he told them, and so the family focused the next ten years on innovation and quality. Having grown the vineyard to more than 1,300 acres, Jeff is now a leader in the Washington wine community. He serves on the Klickitat County Water Conservancy Board and is Secretary/Treasurer of the Washington Winegrowers Association.
Ushering in a New Era
In 2018, the Andrews family hired Todd Chapman, Coyote Canyon's first outside hire to a management position. Practical experience at Destiny Ridge Vineyard, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates made him a perfect fit to step into the Vineyard Manager role as Mike stepped back to focus on Coyote Canyon Winery.
As Jeff spent more of his time on strategic planning and development, the team also brought on Macauley Andrews, who brings expertise in computer programming, security, and technology to the day-to-day operations of the vineyard.