Washington wine country feels really far away, like 850 miles far away. It’s no wonder we don’t think of Washington when we shop for wine, but we should: these wines are commanding big attention for their deep color, crisp acidity, soft rich fruit, and affordability. I am really excited about these jewels, and you should be too!
Washington wine country generally sits in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains in the southeast portion of the state. This is high plains desert, with a reliable 17 hours of sunshine during the short growing season, little pest and disease pressure, and virtually no rain. Hot days and cold nights preserve acidity in the grapes. All that’s needed is irrigation water, which luckily is available from rivers and reservoirs. The cost to farm here is cheap, and as a result, so are the wines. These are Napa quality wines without the Napa Valley price tag!
Washington is the second largest wine producer in the country behind California, and is growing exponentially. Although the wine industry was born here with Riesling and other cold climate varieties, the real stars have become Bordeaux varieties and lately, Syrah. Blending is king, both in varieties and in vineyard sourcing with many small producers trucking fruit as far as Seattle. More estates are cropping up in the east, however, with a new Washington winery bonded almost weekly.
Within the valley, pockets are recognized as unique, and hold their own AVA: Walla Walla, Rattlesnake Hills, and Red Mountain are a few that we’ll be exploring. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about this dynamic wine region and to taste these eye-opening gems. I’ll be featuring several of the pioneers as well as innovative newcomers. Here’s my list. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be pouring such killer wines:
2014 Quilceda Creek, CVR, Cabernet Blend, Columbia Valley, WA $67.99
2013 L’Ecole, ‘Apogee’, Cabernet Blend, Pepper Bridge Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, WA $48.99
2015 Savage Grace, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills, WA $26.99
2013 Dunham, Cabernet Sauvignon, XIX, Columbia Valley, WA $44.99
2013 K Cellars, Syrah, Klein Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, WA $68.99
2014 Andrew Will, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA $38.99
2012 Cotes de Ciel, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, WA $36.99
2015 Savage Grace, Cot (Malbec), Dineen Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills, WA $25.99
2013 Owen Roe, Red Blend, Yakima Valley, WA $26.99
2013 Pedestal, Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA $59.99
2015 Poet’s Leap, Riesling, Columbia Valley, WA $21.99
2015 L’Ecole, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA $14.99