Excellent top wines from Washington
The wide range of grape varieties may at first seem surprising, but in fact the conditions are ideal for many grape varieties. After all, the Washington State vineyards are located at the same latitude as the French wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The climate is ideal for excellent top wines. At the gates of Seattle, select wines are now produced in small and medium-sized wineries.
As a country of immigration, the USA is culturally influenced by various factors. Italian, French and German immigrants in particular have established viticulture. The first wine was produced in Washington State around 1825, although the wineries that can be found today only established themselves in the 1960s.
Location and geographical conditions of the Washington wine regions
The geographical conditions are good for many grape varieties, thus the red and white wines from this region are accordingly diverse. The largest wine-growing area in Washington State is the Columbia Valley. The Columbia Valley and the Yakima River Valley in the interior of the state are the largest areas of cultivation. They are protected from precipitation by the Cascade Mountains. Another area extends to Oregon, the region further east, Walla Walla, is characterized by a milder climate.
What is the climate like in the Washington wine region?
The summers are warm with many hours of sunshine, the winters can be very cold. But the protection of the Cascade Mountains and the water of the rivers create an optimal microclimate for viticulture in the Columbia Valley. The vines are protected from cold showers, the water of the rivers provides milder temperatures in winter and lowers the temperature in summer. Irrigation is necessary in the Valley, however.
Many hours of sunshine and constant temperatures in summer allow the grapes to ripen optimally. The greater temperature differences between day and night create an interesting harmonious interplay of acidity and sweetness as well as distinctive fruit aromas.
Wine growing region Washington State
Washington State is the second largest wine-growing region in the USA, covering around 12,500 hectares. The Columbia Valley has the largest share of this with a share of about 95%. It extends along the river valleys of the Columbia River and its tributary, the Yakima River. The Valley has a mild microclimate, as it is protected from precipitation by the Cascade Mountains. Other growing areas in Washington State are Columbia Gorge, Spokane County and Puget Sound.
On which soils does Washington wine thrive?
Especially in the Columbia Valley, the soils are predominantly low in nutrients and sandy (alluvial soil). The original rock is made up of basalt. The soil is loose and sandy, which makes it unsuitable for the spread of phylloxera, which needs firmer soils to build its veins. While in many European wine-growing regions new rootstock vines and grafting were necessary after the great phylloxera catastrophe at the end of the 19th century, this was not necessary in the Columbia Valley. Therefore, most of the vines in Washington State are true to their roots.
What varieties of vines are grown in Washington State?
Today, Columbia Valley is the second largest wine producing region in the USA. It is not only known for its top quality wines, which are mainly sold in the country itself. The variety of grape varieties also characterizes the region.
The most important grape varieties in Washington State are
- Concord grape
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Riesling and Sémillon also thrive in the cooler outlying areas.
What are excellent wineries in Washington State?
The first wineries were founded in the 1960s. The Columbia Winery planted its first vines in 1957, and Château Ste. Michelle has been growing since 1951. The first officially titled Washington wine was produced in 1967.
About 740 wineries produce wine in Washington today. Many wineries are still small and medium-sized enterprises with a production volume of up to 5000 cases of wine per year (prominent exception: Ste. Michelle with over 2 million cases per year). Here, quality is largely placed above quantity. In addition, the State of Washington has committed the wine industry to a resource-saving and sustainable use of water.
One of the most famous estates is Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, which is the largest producer of Riesling wines in the USA.
The Chateau Ste. Michelle is not only the oldest winery in Washington State. It has also received the most awards. 15 times already there was the award "Winery of the Year" of the Wine Enthusiast. The Columbia Crest Winery is also well known to wine connoisseurs. It has produced the most 90+ wines (Wine Spectator) worldwide.
Buy Washington wines online at VINELLO
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