- Established in 2020, located to the south of the Ancient Lakes AVA, and to the north of the Wahluke Slope AVA. The growing region is wholly contained within the Columbia Valley.
- The AVA is 156,389 acres, of which 1,900 are currently planted to wine grapes.
- The AVA area has about 90% gently to somewhat steeply south-facing slopes, highly regarded for wine grapes in the Pacific Northwest because of the northerly latitude.
- Compared to the Wahluke Slope, which lies about 15 miles to the south, Royal Slope is considerably cooler.
- Compared to the Ancient Lakes appellation, which lies directly to the north, Royal Slope is considerably warmer.
- There are over 20 different varieties planted within the appellation.
The Royal Slope appellation is located in east-central Washington. The growing region is wholly contained within the Columbia Valley and is located between Quincy Basin and the Saddle Mountains. Much of the Royal Slope is comprised of a south-facing slope, which is part of the Yakima Fold Belt that comprises a number of Washington’s grape growing regions.
The name Royal Slope has been used since at least the 1950s, with one source noting that the name came from a pair of Scotsmen who climbed the Saddle Mountains and remarked on the slope’s majesty. The town Royal City is located within the appellation.
Wine grape vines were first planted on the Royal Slope in 1983. Today, there are more than 1,900 acres of wine grape vines. There are 13 commercial vineyards dispersed throughout the AVA and one bonded winery. The area is also home to a substantial amount of tree fruit acreage as well as row crops.
Compared to the Wahluke Slope, which lies about 15 miles to the south, the Royal Slope is considerably cooler, with an average of 2900 Growing Degree Days. Compared to the Ancient Lakes appellation, which lies directly to the north and abuts the appellation, the Royal Slope is considerably warmer. Precipitation in the Royal Slope is 6-8 inches annually.
Elevations are one of the key differentiators of the Royal Slope, ranging from 610 feet above sea level in the southeast corner to 1,756 feet at the top of the Frenchmen Hills ridge. The latter is considerably higher than surrounding growing regions. Planting at higher elevations extends the growing season, delays ripening, and also helps retain natural acidity.
There are over 20 different varieties planted within the appellation. Red varieties include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Syrah. Whites are Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier.
The Royal Slope has the distinction of producing Washington’s first 100 point Syrah from Stoneridge Vineyard.
Photo credit: Stillwater Creek Vineyard.