Despite the Washington State wine industry being very young, is has become the second largest wine producing state in the nation. Yakima Valley is one of Washington’s federally approved American Agricultural Areas, or AVAs, producing many quality red and white wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. For more information on the wineries, vineyards, and fine wines of this Washington wine region, see below.
History. Yakima Valley was the first federally approved AVA in Washington, receiving this designation in 1983. It is also the largest of Washington’s AVAs. Made up of more than 12,000 acres of vineyards, it is home to more than 60 wineries. One third of Washington’s vineyards are contained in this wine region, and more than half of all the wine produced in the state use Yakima Valley grown grapes.
Wines and grapes. Yakima Valley produces mainly Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Syrah.
Climate and Soil. The Yakima Valley has a 190 day growing season and receives abut eight inches of rain annually. It has warm days and cool nights, a combination which is excellent for growing grapes. This Washington AVA has soil that is predominantly silt-loam, which gives the vineyards the perfect amount of drainage.
Wineries and Vineyards. Below are just a few of the exceptional vineyards and wineries of the Yakima Valley AVA in Washington, along with some recommended wines from each.
Wilridge Vineyard. These Washington vineyards are certified both organic and biodynamic, with over 10 acres of grape growing regions. Founded in 1988, this Yakima Valley winery is the oldest continuously operated winery in Seattle. Sample their 2009 Wilridge Viognier, a blend of grapes from two Yakima Valley vineyards (Sugarloaf and Two Coyote Vineyards). This is a dry yet refreshing wine, with aromas of peaches and citrus. Also try their 2006 Wilridge Syrah, which is created from grapes from Elephant Mountain Vineyard in Rattlesnake Hills. This Washington red wine is made in the Cote Rotie style, a very deep, rich wine. For more information on this Yakima Valley vineyard, click here.
Milbrandt Vineyards. Butch and Jerry Milbrandt have been growing grapes since 1997, and many Washington wines have been created using their outstanding grapes. This Yakima Valley vineyard released their first wines in the summer of 2007. Try their Estates 2007 Evergreen Chardonnay, a lovely Washington white wine with aromas of apricots and vanilla, as well as flavors of apples and cloves. Also try their Estates 2006 Petite Sirah, a very dark wine which has flavors of raspberry, orange and vanilla. For more information on this Yakima Valley vineyard in Washington, click here.
Chandler Reach Vineyards. With vineyards planted on north-sloping hills, this Yakima Valley vineyard has 42 acres of grape producing vines. They grow only red varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, and produce 5,000 cases of wine per year. Be sure to try their 2007 Viognier, a gorgeous red wine with aromas that include apple and melon. Also try their 2004 Syrah, a dark purple wine with aromas of dark fruit and flavors that include black cherry and oak. For more information on this Yakima Valley vineyard, click here.