Columbia Valley Wine Region
(Eastern Washington State)
Columbia Valley AVA is the
largest wine region in Washington state, home to more than 40 wineries and
producing more than 90 percent of Washington's wine grapes. The whole
region comprises the Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, and
Red Mountain AVA's along with their range of microclimates. This location,
at approximately the same latitude as France's famous Bordeaux and Burgundy
regions, partially accounts for Columbia Valley being so well-suited for
producing premium wines. Other eastern Washington wine regions include the
Valley - Red Mountain region and
Walla Walla wine region.
The Grapes - The most
widely known varietal in the Columbia Valley is Merlot, a grape considered
by some as the source of the tastiest, best-balanced wine in America. The
"king of red wine grapes," Cabernet Sauvignon, plus the white Chardonnay
follow in production volume. Riesling, one of the original varieties
planted in the state, and Syrah, one to the state's newest varieties, are
also widely planted, amongst others.
writes, "From my first visit there in 1981, I've always been impressed by
Washington State merlot. It just sort of jumped out of the glass at me. The
wines are clean and sappy. A word that I often use to describe these wines
is "confident." You just feel this is right: this is not an attempt at
something, this is something."
When to Visit - The
Columbia River Gorge/ Valley boasts 300 days of sunshine a year allowing all
kinds of tour possibilities. The Columbia Valley Winery Association
sponsors major events throughout the year, like the sweet retreat in March,
Classic Wine & Cars in June, and Catch the Crush at harvest time in
September. These events are celebrated at 14 wineries around the Tri-Cities
(Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco) area and are ideal time to visit and sample
unique vintage selections.