The Next Napa: Washington Wine Country
When people talk about wine country in the United States, most people immediately think of Napa Valley, California. And they’re mostly right. Napa is the place with the most famous vineyards and also where the majority of U.S. wine is produced. But what many people may not know is that Washington state is an up-and-comer and what some are calling “the next Napa”. Over the past 50 years, Washington state has become the second major producer of wine in the USA, and wine country Washington state is growing by leaps and bounds. The Napa Valley vineyards are considered to be one of the best in the world and compete well alongside the renowned vineyards of France, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Germany when it comes to the wine business. But quietly, and without much ado, Washington state’s Columbia Valley very well may be the new Napa.
Most of Washington's vineyards are located in the southeastern part of the state, near the Cascade Mountains. And, unlike the nearly constant rain that can be seen throughout much of the rest of the state, the climate is dry and sunny for 300 days a year. It is the large glacial rivers that supply the water for farming. Growing fruit is not new in Columbia Valley. Before it became famous for grapes, it was well known for its apricots, cherries, and sweet onions.
With a slightly different landscape than Napa Valley, Washington offers other parallels for visitors in terms of wine tours, top quality wines, and above all, the real Washington wine country patronage and friendliness.
The one key difference with winemaking in Washington is that not all vineyards have wineries and vice versa. The majority of wineries sell directly to local consumers because it costs less to maintain a cellar in a warm environment. This type of transaction may be good for the local people, but it does not reach customers at the national level. Things in wine country Washington state are changing, however, and large wineries are being built next to the vineyards and distribution networks are being established. Soon, when Washington wine country is mentioned in more travel magazines, blogs, or on the national news, the rest of America can directly order it from wine country Washington state and receive it promptly. Overall, compared to Napa Valley, the cost of operating a wine business in Washington is lower than that in California.
Trendy restaurants, boutique hotels, and posh tasting rooms have started to pop up all over the southeast portion of Washington, and have led to a boost in wine tourism. If you like red blends, you will not be disappointed, as this is where the wine country of Washington state excels. Even rural areas beyond Columbia Valley are developing their identity, offering wine tasting tours, food, and entertainment in the scenic historic countryside. This has also encouraged other businesses to grow, including hospitality and entertainment. Washington has learned from the California experience: fewer chain restaurants and motels, and more of the local home-grown businesses to cater to tourists. This, combined with the thriving fruit industry, is appealing to more tourists each season.
The government is fully aware of the importance of the wine business in Washington wine country and has made it a priority to see that vineyards and wineries have full local support. While the success of Napa Valley can be a tough act to follow, Washington’s wine industry has its own charm and personality. It has all the ingredients for success. The only thing it needs is more widespread recognition, and it’s getting it. As word gets around, wine lovers will be talking more about Columbia Valley, and there is room for both in the wine industry.
If you are looking for the best wines produced in Washington state, visit Pacific Rim and Company. They offer a great selection of red blends and white wines that hail from Washington state wine country, including the following:
- 2020 SWEET RIESLING
- 2019 DRY RIESLING
- 2018 RAMOS VINEYARD GEWURZTRAMINER
- 2018 HAHN HILL VINEYARD CHENIN BLANC
- 2020 PACIFIC RIM WICKED GOOD RED