Perhaps no AVA is more famous in Washington than the Walla Walla Valley, home to some of the state’s oldest wineries. The Walla Walla Valley AVA was designated in 1984 but traces its grape-growing history back to the 1850s, when Italian immigrants first tilled the region’s soils.
Nearly 175 years later, more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms dot the region, which boasts a growing season of roughly 200 days per year and counts cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, and syrah as its biggest varietals.
Cities and Towns
Really, there is no better basecamp for exploring the Walla Walla Valley than its namesake city. The charming community full of tree-lined streets, vineyards, and tasting rooms sits near the center of the Walla Walla Valley AVA and offers easy access to the wider region.
It’s not as if you need to travel far for some of the state’s most beloved wine, however. In town, five main districts have grown around specific clusters of wineries and tasting rooms. Near the Walla Walla Regional Airport, for instance, more than a dozen wineries have reimagined World War II-era mess halls and firehouses as modern-day tasting rooms and production facilities.
Key Touring Routes
Walla Walla sits at the nexus of two highways that crisscross the valley: State Route 125 travels north-south through the valley, and U.S. Route 12 heads east-west across the region.
Abeja honors the Walla Walla Valley’s rich agricultural history — and paves the way forward with award-winning wines — on a restored farm just four miles east of Walla Walla. Nearby, school is in session at L’Ecole Nº 41. This third-generation, family-owned winery’s tasting room sits in an old schoolhouse and offers a cozy atmosphere for enjoying L’Ecole Nº 41’s lauded wines.
Please remember to designate a driver.
–Written by John King. Updated by Matthew Wastradowski in September 2020
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