Regions and Appellations USA Washington

Washington Wine

Washington State is located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, immediately north of Oregon. Although the history of the wine industry here is relatively short, Washington's 900 or more wineries and 350 plus independent wine grape growers, with over 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of vineyards, now make more wine than any other state, apart from California.

Almost all wine production occurs in Washington's hot, desert-like eastern part, although there is some grape growing and one AVA (Puget Sound) in the cooler, wetter west. The white grapes Chardonnay and Riesling, and the red grapes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are the main varieties grown in Washington, but the region produces quality wines from nearly 70 different grape varieties. Around 58 percent of the fruit crush is of red grapes.

Mount Rainier, Washington's highest peak.

The Cascade mountain range defines the geography of the region by acting as a barrier between the two parts. The mountains create a rain shadow, effectively blocking most precipitation. This means that the Columbia River Basin in the east only receives about eight inches (200mm) of rain per year, resulting in a continental climate.

Without irrigation from local rivers, which include the Columbia, the Walla Walla, the Yakima and the Snake, grapegrowing would not be possible. The rivers also play an important role in moderating both summer and winter temperatures. In summer, a flow of cool, moist air rises off the rivers and blends with the dry desert air to freshen the surrounding areas and cool down the vines. In winter, when overnight temperatures can drop as low as -15°F (-26°C), the rivers keep the air circulating and help to moderate the cold. Some vineyards employ wind machines and use trellising which is more open in order to prevent frost from settling and freezing the vines.

Ice Age floods created much of the Columbia River Basin, leaving behind layers of gravel, sand and silt which have mixed with volcanic soils. This mixture of predominantly free-draining, sandy soils and cold winters suits viticulture and has repelled any outbreak of phylloxera. As a result, most grapes are grown on their own rootstocks, which is advantageous from a quality point of view.

Grape growing here is also influenced by Washington's latitude of 46°N, which produces, on average, 17 hours of sunlight per day in the growing season – two hours more than California. When combined with the extreme diurnal temperature variations, this results in vines which are capable of achieving good ripeness while maintaining vital acidity.

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Most Popular Washington Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 370th 95 $210
Cayuse Vineyards Bionic Frog Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, USA Syrah 1,017th 95 $356
Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,470th 92 $118
Substance 'Cs' Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,660th 89 $16
Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,720th 88 $14
Quilceda Creek 'CVR' Red Wine, Columbia Valley, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 1,955th 91 $70
Col Solare Red Wine, Columbia Valley, USA Cabernet - Merlot - Syrah 2,054th 91 $73
Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 2,252nd 93 $118
Cayuse Vineyards Cailloux Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, USA Syrah 2,651st 94 $141
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, Columbia Valley, USA Riesling 2,818th 87 $9
Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 2,861st 88 $13
Andrew Will Winery Sorella, Horse Heaven Hills, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 2,985th 93 $80
Leonetti Cellar Reserve, Walla Walla Valley, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 3,015th 94 $171
Andrew Will Winery Champoux Vineyard Red, Horse Heaven Hills, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 3,191st 92 $71
Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 3,532nd 94 $167
Figgins Estate Red, Walla Walla Valley, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 3,897th 93 $114
Drumheller Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 3,926th 87 $13
Charles Smith Wines 'Kung Fu Girl' Riesling, Columbia Valley, USA Riesling 3,982nd 89 $12
Charles Smith K Vintners The Creator Cabernet - Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, USA Cabernet - Syrah/Shiraz 4,054th 92 $56
Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot, Columbia Valley, USA Merlot 4,118th 87 $14
Leonetti Cellar Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, USA Merlot 4,158th 92 $95
Cayuse Vineyards God Only Knows Armada Vineyard Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, USA Grenache (Garnacha) 4,361st 93 $157
Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 4,424th 91 $56
Charles Smith 'Royal City' Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, USA Syrah 4,495th 94 $132
DeLille Cellars D2, Columbia Valley, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 4,671st 90 $41
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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