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Originally published Friday, September 20, 2013 at 11:24 AM

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Taste some of the best at the Red Mountain Block Party

The party celebrates the wines and wineries of the state’s smallest AVA.

Special to The Seattle Times

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IT’S NEITHER red nor a mountain, but let’s face it: “Brown Ridge” is not a sexy name.

Red Mountain’s wines, however, are.

If you’re looking for an experience like no other, mark your calendar for Sept. 28 and head over the Cascades for the second annual Red Mountain Block Party. It’s an event that will send you home with a satisfied smile and stories to share with your wine-loving friends.

Red Mountain is just 4,040 acres in size, of which nearly 1,400 of them are covered in vines. While that makes it the state’s smallest viticultural area, the wines are among the biggest and best. On the eastern edge of the Yakima Valley near the Tri-Cities, it is home to such wineries as Hedges Cellars, Fidelitas Wines and Col Solare.

So what makes the Red Mountain Block Party different from other wine festivals? First, it involves wineries that don’t have tasting rooms in the appellation, including Obelisco and DeLille. All have estate vineyards here, though, and they will be pouring their wines in the Winemakers Tent, which is in the backyard of John and Ann Williams, founders of Kiona Vineyards and Winery.

Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars in Woodinville — one of the most respected winemakers in the state — will lead mini-seminars in the tent throughout the day, teaching attendees about different clones of cabernet sauvignon and why they matter to winemakers.

Randall Hopkins, owner of Corvus Cellars in Walla Walla, will open his Red Mountain home as a tasting room for this one day.

And this might be the only wine event in the United States to offer a refrigerated truck where wine lovers can safely store their purchases until they’re ready to leave. It works because everything is so close together. In fact, most attendees will be able to park their cars and ride a trolley from winery to winery.

So far, wine lovers from as far as New Jersey and San Francisco have bought tickets, and the event is likely to exceed the 475 folks who attended last year. They are coming because this party is different. You don’t just belly up to the tasting bar and drink wine.

“The event is more educational,” said Heather Unwin, director of Red Mountain AVA Alliance. “It’s not just filling a glass.”

THREE TO TRY AT HOME:

Andrew Will 2010 Ciel du Cheval. Vashon winemaker Chris Camarda’s best wine comes from one of Red Mountain’s oldest vineyards. It’s a suave blend of merlot and cabernet franc.

Convergence Zone Cellars 2010 Mistral. This grenache-based blend from a Woodinville winery is a plush red wine with dark fruit and rich tannins.

Forsyth Brio 2007 Kiona Vineyard cabernet sauvignon. A rich, bold red from David Forsyth, one of the Yakima Valley’s most respected winemakers.

Andy Perdue is a wine journalist, author and international judge. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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