Front view of the Hors Catégorie Vineyard with the farm cows grazing


Defying all description

It’s a well-known story, how in 1997 Christophe Baron, founder and vigneron of Cayuse Vineyards, planted his first vines in a field of stones because it reminded him of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France. In the process, he almost single-handedly brought the world’s attention to the potential of Syrah grown in the Walla Walla Valley.

His discovery of the Hors Catégorie Vineyard site in 2005 unfolded in a similarly serendipitous way. Looking just a few miles east and up-stream from that ancient stony river bed, Christophe saw a steep hillside he found eerily reminiscent of Hermitage, the legendary appellation in France’s Northern Rhone.

Once again defying conventional wisdom, he invested enormous time and expense in clearing and planting the two and a half-acre vineyard, stubbornly believing it to be “an American jewel.” Today, whether seen on a stark winter day or in the vibrance of the growing season, Hors Catégorie defies all description—appropriately, the name means “beyond categorization” or “in a class of its own” in French.