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Les Vignes de Marcoux

History of Red Willow

sagebrushThe story of Red Willow begins with the history of the land. Some 12,000 years ago, the peninsula shaped land formation was bordered by water during the repeated Lake Missoula floods which occurred at the end of the ice age. Due to it’s higher elevation, 1200-1300 feet, the peninsula vineyard site was above the water level and thus was not affected by the water deposited silt and sand that much of the valley floor received. It’s soils are poorer and more ancient than those of lower elevations.
Red Willow is located in the North West corner of the Yakima Valley and on the south slopes of Ahtanum Ridge. This is also within the bounds of the Yakama Indian Reservation.
The mid 1920’s brought irrigation canals to this part of the valley. Overnight, sage brush and range grass gave way to farms of grain, alfalfa hay, potatoes, hops and vegetables. Included in this first wave of settlers was Clyde Stephenson, the first generation to farm the land on which Red Willow is located. At this time, the main crops were potatoes and alfalfa hay along with cattle. In the 1950’s and 60’s the farm expanded with the presence of the second generation, Harold Stephenson. More acres were added and deep wells (1,000 ft.) were drilled so that water could be pumped to higher elevation fields. The method of irrigation changed from the ditch flooding of flat fields to using some of the first wheel line sprinklers in the Yakima Valley. The crops grown were wheat, alfalfa hay, corn and the main crop, alfalfa seed. Continued

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