Columbia Valley Wine Region
(S. Central & S. Eastern Washington State)
The Columbia Valley AVA is the largest wine region in Washington state, home to more than 80 wineries and producing more than 90 percent of Washington's wine grapes. The whole region comprises the Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, and Red Mountain AVA's along with their range of microclimates, all within the Columbia Valley AVA. 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 Yakima Valley - Red Mountain region and the 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.
Jancis Robinson 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 Yakima Valley in October/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.
*** Paul Giamatti (the movie Sideways, italic words added)
"The Columbia Valley; a really specific, little tucked away corner of the world. Merlot & Cabernet & Syrah; the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient wines on the planet." *** 'We are now in the land of wheat, hay, apples, sunshine, raspberries, hops, oil, Merlot and Cabs...', more.