Washington and Wine
Being Washington natives, we often had the same curiosity the rest of you may have….”It rains every day in Seattle, how could they grow any grapes at all?” But the state is separated into two major regions by the Cascade Mountains. The west which includes the wet and rainy climate we are not so happily known for, and the east which only averages 8 inches of rainfall (compare to 60 inches in the west). In 1970, there were only 10 wineries compared to more than 500 today! The growth in popularity has been phenomenal, in fact this year the annual Wine Blogger’s Conference took place in Walla Walla, Wa. This was the first time this gathering of approximately 300 wine writers was held outside of the state of California. If it had not been sold out, we would definitely have attended. Are you kidding me? Right next door and we couldn’t get tickets. That will never happen again! The feedback observed so far, has been extremely positive and we believe the attendees were pleasantly surprised at what Washington has to offer in terms of wine production, cultural experiences and outstanding focus on quality and industry practices (and FUN!).
Washington has the nations second highest number of Wineries (511), which ranks them second only to California.
Wine Regions (AVA’s) of Washington: Yakima Valley / Walla Walla Valley / Columbia Valley / Puget Sound / Red Mountain / Columbia Gorge / Horse Heaven Hills / Wahluke Slope / Rattlesnake Hills / Snipes Mountain / Lake Chelan
An AVA, or American Vinticultural Area, is a specific grape – growing area within a state or a region recognized by and registered with the federal government. AVA designation began in the 1980′s and is a system styled after the European system (AOC).
*NOTE: If an AVA is listed on the label, at least 85% of the grapes must come from that region.
White – Chardonnay (6,000 acres) Riesling (4,400 acres) Sauvignon Blanc (990 acres) Gewurztraminer (630 acres)
Red – Cabernet Sauvignon (6,000 acres) Merlot (5,800 acres) Syrah (2,800 acres)
We have two favorites which we strongly encourage you to explore on your own. One is Chandler Reach Vineyards who make a delicious Parris Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Their “Villa” is in the Yakima Valley (AVA) and you won’t be disappointed during each and every visit. The Villa has a great story behind it and every time we visit, it just keeps getting better!
Our other favorite, not necessarily in that order, is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery located in Woodinville. Their full bodied reds, annual membership concerts and romantic atmosphere at the winery is something you must experience on your own!
Fact: Chateau Ste. Michelle is the world’s largest producer of Riesling.
If you want further information on specific wineries, vineyards or wine bars in Washington, this is a great place to start…