By John King
Across these disparate landscapes, winemakers tend more than 59,000 acres of vines and are responsible for more than 1,000 wineries. And not for nothing, but Washington harvested 261,000 tons of wine grapes in 2018. According to the Washington State Wine Commission, all that makes the Evergreen State the second-largest wine region in the United States just behind California.
With a wide variety of growing conditions and such an enormous annual output, it’s no surprise that wine touring has become such a popular activity throughout Washington. So, if you’re looking for your next favorite chardonnay or merlot, here’s a look at Washington’s 14 regions, along with what to expect in each, what sets them apart, and how to explore every area.
Before you head out, however, keep in mind that wineries and tasting rooms may keep limited hours and require reservations. Check with your preferred wineries ahead of time and prepare for social distancing measures to keep visitors and employees safe. Remember to designate a driver.
No tour of Washington’s wine scene is complete without a nod to the AVA that started it all.
The Walla Walla Valley is home to some of the state’s oldest wineries.
Far and way, Columbia Valley is the largest growing region in Washington state.
The Puget Sound AVA offers the best of all worlds for grape growers.
Not a mountain, nor red in color, but it has some of Washington’s most popular grapes.
Columbia Gorge AVA is just west of Washington’s largest growing region.
Horse Heaven Hills AVA produces nearly a quarter of the state’s grape production.
The Wahluke Slope AVA sits in the heart of the broader Columbia Valley AVA.
Rattlesnake Hills AVA occupies a unique niche in central Washington.
The Snipes Mountain AVA has a vast output despite being Washington’s second-smallest growing region.
What sets Lake Chelan apart from the rest of the region is a higher elevation and more moderate climate.
It is an example of how the region’s grapes reflect the unique geography of their growing area.
The Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley AVA is named for the roughly three-dozen lakes that dot the region.
It is Washington’s easternmost growing region and most of which actually resides in Idaho