Pacific Rim
March 14, 2022 | wine | Pacific Rim

Washington State Riesling and Ice Wine

Even though Washington state is famous for its red blends, in the early days when the region started to grow grapes, it was felt that the environment was too cold to ripen red and black grapes. Hence, the majority of vineyards started to grow cool-climate white grapes, especially those brought over from Germany, and this led to the evolution of Washington state Riesling wine. Riesling grapes were first planted in the Yakima Valley nearly 50 years ago, and today this area has emerged as a top-class region to produce Riesling, and, more importantly, more Riesling production than any other state in the country.  The Riesling grape is one of the best white wine varieties, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Originating from the Rhine Valley of Germany, this thin, green-skinned grape thrives in the cool climate of Washington state along the Columbia River. 


The success of Riesling has been chiefly due to the climate: hot summers, cool nights, and the well-drained loamy soil along the Columbia Valley. The cooler evening temperatures are vital for high-quality Riesling flavors, resulting in full-flavored crispy, well-balanced acidic wines with ample fruity aromas.

Over the years, if there is one white wine that has maintained the reputation of Washington as an elite wine producer, it is Washington state Riesling wine. The Riesling produced in Washington state rivals the very best that is produced in Germany and elsewhere. While red blends have overshadowed white wines in Washington, Riesling still stands tall and proud, competing favorably with the red blends. Even though the production of many white wines has diminished over the past three decades, the tide is again shifting, and more winemakers are focusing on white wines again, like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. The emphasis, however, is on Riesling’s success story.


The Riesling produced in Washington state varies in style from very sweet to dry. The majority of Riesling is never aged and usually consumed while it is yet young. Washington state Riesling wine is known for its aroma that is best described as fruity, peach, or tropical with a delicate balance of acidity and residual sugar

Due to the success of Riesling in Washington state, some winemakers have started to adopt the same production methods as used in Germany and are even partnering with German vintners to create more specialty Riesling wines.

Washington state Riesling wines are versatile and can be paired with many foods, including pork, beef, seafood, and many strong flavored Asian and Mexican cuisine dishes.


The Riesling grape is mostly made into a variety of wine types; Washington winegrowers also use the grape to make ice wine, which is in high demand. Ice wine Washington state is sweet and concentrated from grapes that were allowed to freeze on the vine.


Washington growers have started to grow grapes at higher elevations to maximize the quality of white wines. Combined with cool nights, this has allowed the white wines to retain their acidity. These advances in grape farming have allowed grape growers to make at least three dozen white varieties, producing high-quality whites like Riesling, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Sémillon, and many more. Even though Washington's white wines may have been off the national radar, it is only a matter of time before Americans recognize the high-quality white wines produced in the state. As the next generation of winemakers develops even better techniques of growing grapes, the best is yet to come.

It is no secret that Pacific Rim and Company is fanatical about Riesling wines.  That’s where their true passion lies, and they will be happy to talk to you about this amazing wine and the grapes that give rise to its production.  Give Pacific Rim a call today at 1-503-863-5454 to discover what they love so much about Washington state Riesling wine.  Take a look at our current inventory!


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