Monday, Feb 14th
Yakima Valley AVA
Vineyards: 18,924 acres (7,658 hectares)
Top Varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Syrah
Average Annual Precipitation: 8 inches
Yakima Valley is one of Washington’s most diverse growing regions. It also is the largest sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley, both in total size and planted acreage, with the valley home to over one quarter of Washington’s total grape vine acreage.
Designated in 1983, Yakima Valley was the first federally recognized wine-growing region in the Pacific Northwest. The valley has an arid, continental climate, with annual average precipitation at just 8 inches (20 cm). Irrigation is therefore required to cultivate vinifera grapes. The Yakima River, which bisects the appellation, provides water for irrigation as do local aquifers.
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Tuesday, Feb 15th
Lake Chelan AVA
Vineyards: 269 acres (109 hectares)
Top Varieties: Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot
Average Annual Precipitation: 11 inches
This appellation wraps around the tourist-popular Lake Chelan. This is a narrow, 50.5 mile, glacier carved lake with depths up to 1,486 feet – among the deepest in the country. The average width of the lake is one mile. Lake Chelan is also at the edge of the Cascade Mountain range, with the northern end of the lake in North Cascades National Park.
Climatically, the appellation is defined by its location at the north-western edge of the Columbia Valley and the “lake effect”. Lake Chelan moderates temperatures, providing cooler summer days and warmer summer nights compared to the surrounding regions. The Lake Chelan appellation also has a somewhat higher elevation – approximately 1,100 feet above sea level – than some southern appellations within the Columbia Valley. Vineyards are located along the southern and eastern portions of the lake.
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Wednesday, Feb 16th
Walla Walla Valley AVA
Vineyards: Total vineyard acreage: 2,933 (1,186 hectares); Washington acreage: 1,672 (676 hectares)
Top Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah
Average Annual Precipitation: 7-22 inches
Walla Walla Valley has the highest concentration of wineries in the state and is also home to some of Washington’s oldest wineries. The valley is a shared appellation with Oregon, with just over half of the planted acreage on the Washington side.
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Thursday, Feb 17th
Columbia Gorge AVA
Vineyards: Total vineyard acreage: 950 (384 Hectares); Washington acreage: 381 (154 Hectares)
Top Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling
Average Annual Precipitation: 10-36 inches
Established in 2004, the Columbia Gorge AVA is the state’s westernmost appellation east of the Cascade Mountains. A shared appellation with Oregon, the 40-mile long Columbia Gorge is notable for its diversity, with very dry regions to the east as well as areas to the west that receive so much rain they are able to dry farm – an extreme rarity in eastern Washington.
This region’s proximity to the Cascade crest, which lies to the west, results in radically different microclimates. Driving west to east, annual rainfall decreases approximately one inch per mile. The western section of the appellation receives an average of 36 inches (90cm) of rainfall annually; the eastern section a mere 10 (25cm).
As a result, western vineyards have more of a maritime influenced climate, ideal for cool climate grapes; eastern vineyards have a continental climate, better suited to warm weather varieties.