Washington State Wine Country
Washington state is the second-biggest producer of wine in the United States. The state has vineyards and wineries spread all around the state, but the majority are located in eastern and southern Washington. Of these vineyards, the most well-known is located in Columbia Valley. If you ever decide to visit a vineyard during your travels to Washington state wine country, a trip to this part of the state is highly recommended.
It is located in the southeastern corner of the state and is home to the largest Washington state wine regions. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the state’s grapes are grown in Columbia Valley. The Columbia Valley is traversed by the Columbia River and its tributaries. The Columbia Valley also neighbors other smaller Washington state wine regions, including Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, and Horse Heaven Hills, but it is the Columbia Valley itself that is the most important wine producer.
Washington state wine country is blessed with nearly 300 days of sunshine and despite the meager rainfall (6-8 inches per year, while Seattle averages 38 inches of rainfall each year), the soil receives a good runoff from the Cascade Mountains. The diversity of soil (sand and windblown silt), geographical landscape, and the angle of the sun in Columbia Valley is similar to the famed wine regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux in France. The hot summers, followed by cool evenings, allow for a long grape growing season, and, at the same time, the grapes ripen to maturity, while retaining their acidity, which is the key to making great aromatic fruity wines.
Grape Growing History
Grapes have been grown in the Columbia Valley for about 150 years, but the winemaking industry did not start until about the 1970s. Initially, the Valley was known locally for its white wines, but by the 1980s, the Valley started to make the “two reds” that made Columbia Valley most well known as one of the great Washington state wine regions. More than 70 grape varieties are grown in the Valley, but 80 percent of production is accounted for by Riesling, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Other wines include Petit Verdot and Mourvedre, but the region is most famous for the rich aromatic Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up for the majority of sales. The wine has won many local and national accolades for its taste and flavors.
Today, nearly two-thirds of the Valley’s vineyards make several varieties of red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon. What makes the Valley's red wines stand out? The fruity flavors, balanced tannins, and sweet-tart acidity.
White wine drinkers should not feel left out, however, as the dry and arid climate of the Valley also results in outstanding fruity-acidic white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, and the White Bordeaux blends.
Besides the famed red and white wines, the Valley also manufactures rose wines. These are most well-known for their crisp, delicately fruity, and herbal notes that make them easy to drink. While there are many types of rose wines produced, the most touted are the Grenache, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc.
Columbia Valley has many wine-tasting tours for visitors and locals alike. For maximum enjoyment, the wine-tasting tour should include several days of sightseeing in this magnificent part of Washington state wine country. The best time to tour and taste wine is late summer and early autumn when the weather is just perfect. There are ample hotels and motels to accommodate people with all budget needs, but you need to prebook as the Valley is inundated with visitors during the peak season. Unlike California, the tasting room fees in the Washington state wine regions are much lower and so is the cost of the wine. Some wine-tasting tours also serve appetizers and snacks. In addition, there are a variety of diners and restaurants in Columbia Valley. Probably the most famed winery in the Valley is Chateau St. Michelle and it may very well be worth your while to plan a stop there.
Today, these famed wines from the Valley can be purchased online from Pacific Rim and Company. If you have any questions, you may call our knowledgeable staff at 1-503-863-5454. Some of the great wines include the following:
- 2020 SWEET RIESLING
- 2018 SILVER TOTEM CABERNET SAUVIGNON
- 2018 SILVER TOTEM RED BLEND
- 2020 RAINSTORM PINOT NOIR ROSÉ