Washington Wine Overview

Washington is one of the heavy hitters in the American wine industry. It ranks second to only California in wine production. With more than 600 wineries in the state, Washington’s wines are well known not only on the West Coast, but worldwide.

Most of the grape-growing in Washington is located in the drier, more sunny eastern half of the state. Growing conditions here are arguably better than even California, with more sunlight per day and more consistent temperatures. There are 12 recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the state, 11 of which are located in eastern Washington. Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are just a few of the most popular Washington wine styles.

Washington is a river state, and the four prominent rivers here are vital to grape growers. The Snake River, Walla Walla River, Yakima River and Columbia River have carved out valleys that moderate cold, northern temperatures. They also serve as a source of water to irrigate vineyards in the arid conditions of eastern Washington.

There are 12 recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the state, 11 of which are located in eastern Washington.

Washington Wine Trails

Much like Oregon and California, Washington’s primary wine promotional organization divides the state into primary wine-producing regions. There are eight of them: Seattle and Puget Sound, Woodinville, Tri Cities, Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Spokane, Vancouver and Columbia Gorge and Cascade Valley and North Central. We recommend the official Washington State Wine Tour Guide, available at Washington State Wine.

One wine trail we identified is the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail in the Yakima River Valley. Other so-called wine trails identified on some Internet sites are compilations and agendas of wine touring, which are quite useful — but not a definitive wine trail, per se. We consider it a wine trail if a group of wineries in one area organize their promotional efforts together and form an organization of some sort, usually made official by their own organizational website. We don’t consider it a wine trail if it’s merely someone’s travel agenda, which can easily be changed by anyone visiting the area. When in doubt, we always go with a state’s official wine site, as we’ve done in Washington’s case.

Travelogue: Washington: Eastern Washington and Spokane

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