If you are looking for outstanding wines that include Chardonnay, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, you should try the wines from the Lake Chelan American Viticultural Area in Washington. Located in north central Washington, this wine region is encompassed completely by the larger Columbia Valley AVA. Grape vines have been flourishing beside Lake Chelan for more than one hundred years. For more information on this AVA and its excellent wines, see below.
History. The first wine grapes were planted in the Lake Chelan AVA in 1891, but the modern wine industry did not develop until the 1990s. This AVA, Washington’s 9th, was approved in 2009. The Lake Chelan AVA encompasses more than 24,000 acres, with 260 acres of vineyard and fifteen wineries.
Climate and Soil. Lake Chelan’s climate is affected by the lake itself, which provides it with moderate temperatures, warm days and cool nights during the growing season, and protects it from frost damage in the winter. This Washington wine region receives about 11 inches of rain and 40 inches of snow each year. It has a unique soil that is derived from the crystalline granite of the Cascade Mountains, creating sandy, rocky soil with excellent drainage.
Vineyards and Wineries. For just a few of the Washington vineyards and wineries in the Lake Chelan AVA, along with some recommended wines, see below.
Benson Vineyards. This family operated Washington estate winery is situated on 28 acres beside Lake Chelan. They grow Chardonnay, Viognier, Sangiovese and other varieties. This is the only 100% estate winery in Lake Chelan. Sample their 2009 Estate Chardonnay, a medium oaked white wine with aromas of vanilla and cinnamon, followed by flavors of lemon and pear. Their 2007 Estate Pinot Noir is also excellent, a dry red wine with aromas of spice and flavors of mushrooms and pepper. For more information on this Lake Chelan vineyard and winery, click here.
C.R. Sandidge Wines. This Washington winery creates wine in a traditional, old world manner. Try their 2004 Whistle Punk Red, with aromas of cherries and raspberries, and flavors that include blackberries and cedar. Their 2007 Glam Gams Rose is a pink wine with aromas that include watermelon and strawberry, and flavors of cranberry and other fruits. For more information on this Washington winery, click here.
Four Lakes Chelan Winery. This Lake Chelan AVA winery specializes in bold reds and refreshing white wines. Over twenty varieties of wine grapes are planted on their Washington vineyards. Their 2008 Estate Syrah has won many awards, and its aromas of blackberry and licorice, as well as flavors of pepper and vanilla, will not disappoint. Their 2008 Estate Merlot has also won several awards, with its tantalizing aromas of black cherry and clove, followed by flavors of plum, currant and oak. For more information on this Lake Chelan winery, click here.