Washington state ranks second in the US in wine production, behind only California. Washington has twelve federally defined American Viticultural Areas (AVA) with all but one in Eastern Washington. The largest AVA is the Columbia Valley AVA, which extends into a bit of northern Oregon and encompasses most of the other Washington AVAs. These include Walla Walla , Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Lake Chelan, Naches Heights, and Yakima Valley, which in turn also encompasses Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain and Red Mountain. In our short trip to the area, we traveled through the majority of these locations!
Grapes were first planted in Walla Walla by Italian immigrants a very long time ago – it was in the 1950s and 1960s, the precursors of the state’s biggest wineries (Chateau Ste Michelle and Columbia Winery) began. While many grape varietals thrive throughout Washington, the dominant ones are Rieslings, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. In our opinion the big boy is the Merlot with bright intense flavor and lush texture. It is said that in California, Merlot is added to Cabernet Sauvignon to soften it, but in Washington, Cabernet Sauvignon is added to help soften the Merlot.
Besides the wine, the state has gorgeous scenery. Check out our videos at Snoqualmie Falls and Mount Ranier below.