Visiting Washington This Summer? Visit These Wine Regions
The weather is stunning, the days are long, and most people want to do nothing more than get outside and begin to explore. Summer is the perfect time to do so many things, including visiting the various Washington wine regions. Washington is nothing short of picturesque. With beautiful vineyards that seem to roll into each other, scenic landscapes all around you, and charming wineries dotting the countryside, you’ll find lots of opportunities to take in the view and create memories in this space that are tough to build anywhere else.
More than that, though, Washington wine country means a deeper insight into the process of how the wines you love are created and lots of opportunities to taste the wines themselves and the dishes so many of them have inspired. If you’re ready to experience summer wine tasting in Washington, though, what regions should you put on your itinerary? Here are the five you simply cannot afford to miss.
#1 - Columbia Valley
If you know anything about Washington’s wine region, you know that this is where 99% of the action happens. Located just east of the Cascades, the hot dry summers are perfect for grape growth. Nearly 80 different wine grape varieties are grown in the region, but the most commonly grown varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Syrah. Wines from this region tend to offer pure flavors that are hard to get anywhere else.
That could be due to the weather patterns you’ll find here. The daytime high can be quite hot, but overnight, it gets far cooler, so the acidic base of the wines can further develop. The dry climate helps too. Storms coming from the Pacific hit Seattle, dropping almost 40 inches of rain on the city each year. When the storms hit the Cascades, the rain or snow continues to fall, but that creates a bit of a shadow on the Columbia Valley, so the area gets just eight inches of rain each year.
#2 - Yakima Valley
Established shortly after Napa Valley was named a federally approved winegrowing region, nearly 25% of the grapes grown in Washington come from here. Technically a sub appellation of the much larger Columbia Valley, this is worth the visit because you’ll find Chardonnay, Rieslings, and Merlots being created in this space. In some wineries, you’ll also find Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah being created in this valley.
The Syrah wines created here offer a diversity that isn’t available in other regions, incorporating both aromas and flavors of blueberry and raspberry as well as savory herbs, smoked meat aromas, and olive hints.
Other red wines created in this region mean a softer tannin profile that you won’t find outside of Yakima Valley. Often you’ll find orange rind accents in these varieties and a number of other unique flavors.
#3 - Red Mountain
The smallest appellation in Washington, there are just 4,040 acres of land here. It is a sub appellation of Yakima Valley. The temperatures are quite warm here, so you’ll find mostly red wines being grown in the area. Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary type of wine you’ll see in Red Mountain, as nearly 60% of the planted acreage is devoted to that wine. Merlot and Syrah are also planted extensively here.
From bottom to top, the elevation of this area varies by 1,000 feet, and the heat of the summer and constantly blowing winds mean the grapes are small and have thick skins. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blend that result from those grapes ages well, and that means one bottle you buy from this region could be the perfect choice a few years from now.
#4 - Walla Walla Valley
If you’re looking for true natural beauty, Walla Walla Valley is the single best place to visit. Here you’ll find rolling wheat fields next to the beauty of the Blue Mountains. You’ll also find more than 120 wineries and tasting rooms, making it the perfect place for summer wine tasting in Washington.
This area is primarily known for Syrah, but you’ll also find Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot created here as well. The Syrahs you find here offer an earthy flavor that is both strong and savory. The mouthfeel with these is soft and gentle. The flavor profiles with these wines often include black olive and smoked meat, as well as a fire pit.
#5 - Woodwinville Wine Country
This may not make most lists because it’s not a designated AVA, but it’s absolutely one of the Washington wine regions you should see. Just a half hour from Seattle, there are many wineries in this agrarian center, and it's easy to access from other parts of the state.
You’ll find great blends and lots of different events here, so if you’re planning a trip, this should be a stop that’s high on your list. Numerous wineries in this space import grape grown east of the mountains, and the beauty of the area is unparalleled. Feel free to stroll the streets and enjoy live music and the various tasting rooms.
Stop By and Visit Us!
No matter where you plan to be this summer in Washington, be sure to make a stop at Pacific Rim. It’s the perfect way to taste everything we have to offer.