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.
Columbia River Valley
Grapes ripening in Horse Heaven Hills
95 points of yum!
Barrels at Columbia Crest
L’Ecole converted school house
2011 Ferguson – sold out
Wino Crossing sign at Va Piano
Lavender in bloom
Blending classroom at Northstar
Adamant team – he makes wine, she does the artwork
Cute winery dog at Adamant
Horse Heaven Hills
Besides the wine, the state has gorgeous scenery. Check out our videos at Snoqualmie Falls and Mount Ranier below.
A bit north of San Diego and a bit South of LA, the Temecula Valley is an American Viticultural Area in southern Riverside County, California. After attending a 4 day travel conference in Newport Beach last week, we had one day free before heading home. Free day = wine tasting day, what else would you expect?
We rented a car and drove about one and a half hours to Temecula. Historic old town Temecula is a charming collection of circa 1890’s buildings with antique stores, hotels, boutiques, specialty foods and gift stores While we were sorely tempted to stroll around, we just did not have enough time to check it out and still get in a few winery visits. Definitely next time though.
With more than 35 wineries in Temecula valley, there is not enough time to fit them all in, but with a bit of pre-planning we came up with a small handful that we thought we should try. We adjusted our plans as we went along, because once you find a winery you really like, it’s also good to ask them for recommendations on where else to go.
Temecula would be an awesome destination for a small group of wine lovers. It can easily be combined with other activities in San Diego or LA. We can help!
Here are a few of our favorites we found that day:
Palumbo Family Vineyards. Our favorite wine (that day) “Catfish Vineyard” Cabernet Franc