Washington’s wine history dates back to 1825 when wine grapes were planted around Fort Vancouver by the Hudson Bay Company. In the 1930’s the Washington wine industry was based on the native American grape variety Concord which grew well in the Yakima Valley. In 1969, when California’s wine boom was well under way, there were only two wineries in Washington. By 1997 there were about 100 wineries in the state, today the number of wineries is well over 600 and still growing.
Washington State boasts twelve wine growing appellations:
Yakima Valley which was the state’s first federally-recognized appellation established in 1983. Yakima Valley has over one third of Washington’s vineyards and more than 60 wineries. Top producing grapes are Chardonnay, followed by Merlot and Cabernet.
Walla Walla Valley established 1984 is home to over 100 wineries with Cabernet the number one grape with Merlot, Chardonnay and Merlot following behind. Other grapes grown in Walla Walla Valley are, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Grenache, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, and Viognier
Columbia Valley established in 1984 is Washington’s largest grape growing region covering one third of Washington’s land mass accounting for 99% of wine grapes grown. Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most widely planted grape varietals
Puget Sound founded in 1995 has 45 wineries in the region. Madeleine Angevine, Siegerebbe and Muller-Thurgau are the predominant varietals with Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir showing promise
Red Mountain was established in 2001 and is located on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley and has more than fifteen wineries. Top producing grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Petit Verdot
Columbia Gorge was established in 2004 with over twenty wineries with areas in Oregon and Washington. Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling are the top producing grapes
Horse Haven Hills established 2005 located in Southeast Washington with 25 vineyards and six wineries. Top growing grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Syrah with 37 total varieties planted
Wahluke Slope established in 2006 has more than 20 vineyards. Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc are the top producing wine grapes.
Rattlesnake Ridge established in 2006 has 17 wineries and 29 vineyards with the top producing grapes being Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling. The first vineyard was planted in 1968
Snipes Mountain was established in 2009 and settled in 1850’s by a cattle rancher named Ben Snipes. Home to six wineries the vineyards grow more than thirty different grape varieties with the original vineyards planted in 1914
Lake Chelan established in 2009 is home to 15 wineries with the first grapes planted in the late 1800’s by Native Americans. Top producing wine grapes are Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir
Naches Heights is the newest of Washington’s appellations established in 2012. Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Syrah were the first grapes planted in 2002.