Lake Chelan

Established 2009

  • Lake Chelan, one of Washington’s most sought after summer destinations, is now the 11th American Viticultural Area (AVA) officially recognized in the state.
  • It is encompassed completely within the larger Columbia Valley AVA, but Lake Chelan has a higher elevation and more temperate climate than the more southern AVAs also contained within the Columbia Valley.
  • The 24,040-acre Lake Chelan AVA includes the southern and eastern portions of land surrounding the lake and shares a northern border with the Columbia Valley AVA.
  • Due to the ice age glaciers that formed Lake Chelan, the soil surrounding it has distinctive properties such as coarse, sandy sediment with notable amounts of quartz and mica, and these result in grapes with discernable textures, minerals, and nutrients.  
  • The AVA is also distinguished by a significant “lake effect” that creates mild and favorable temperatures for surrounding areas, resulting in a longer growing season and a reduced risk of frost.
  • Grapes have been grown in the Chelan Valley since before the turn of the 20th century by a few Native Americans and a group of Italian immigrants. In 1949, the area produced grapes from 154 vineyard acres.
  • Modern wine grape growing began more extensively at the turn of the 21st century, and the first winery was opened by the Kludt family in 2000. Now the area is home to 15 wineries and about 227 acres of planted grapes.
  • The leading varieties being produced in the new AVA include Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

Images of the Lake Chelan AVA

Vine Starts on a Hillside
Vine starts on a Lake Chelan hillside.
© 2012 Washington Wine Commission

INDUSTRY