Robust Merlot, smooth Syrah and incredible Riesling are just a few of the wines you will experience from the Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). This is the largest of Washington’s AVAs, consisting of almost 11 million acres, a full third of the size of the entire state of Washington and 99% of its planted vineyards. It is home to over 6,000 vineyard acres and 100 wineries, and encompasses the Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Wahluke Slope, Rattlesnake Hills, Horse Heaven Hills, and Snipes Mountain AVAs. If you enjoy excellent wines, try some of the wines produced by the Columbia Valley AVA. For more information on this wine region’s history, vineyards, wineries and recommended wines, see below.
History. This AVA is located in the Columbia River Plateau, encompassing most of central and southern Washington, along with a part of Oregon. It is located on the same parallel of the growing regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. In Oregon, the first vineyards were planted in the early 1900s, surviving today as The Pines 1852 Vineyard. In the 1980s, both the Oregon and Washington sides of this AVA had large-scale wineries and began to gain recognition for their wines. Most of the vineyards of the Columbia Valley AVA are planted on south-facing slopes. This Washington AVA was approved in 1984.
Climate and Soil. The Columbia Valley AVA has a predominantly desert climate, with hot days and cool nights that are perfect for growing grapes. The growing season is about 200 days and the average rainfall is eight inches. The soil consists of mainly silt, sand, and loess sediment, well-drained soil that is perfect for growing grapes. The main threat to the grapes is a deep freeze, as temperatures can drop from 40 to below zero degrees in hours. Luckily, the grapes will usually go dormant during a freeze, rather than dying.
Wines. The Columbia Valley AVA produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Syrah wines, among others.
Vineyards and Wineries. Below are just a few of the outstanding vineyards, wineries, and recommended wines of the Columbia Valley AVA.
Adamant Cellars. This Columbia Valley winery creates very robust yet elegant wines, including an outstanding 2007 Nalin Red Bordeaux, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Its flavors include raspberry and spice. You should also sample their 2006 Red Blend, which consists of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It has flavors that include black cherry and dates. For more information on this Columbia Valley winery and vineyards, click here.
Columbia Crest. Known for its quality Chardonnay, Merlot and other wines, Columbia Crest is the largest winery in the state of Washington. They produce wines from their own Washington vineyards, as well as those of the surrounding Columbia Valley. Try their 2007 Two Vines Merlot, with aromas of raspberry and black cherry, followed by flavors of cocoa and spice. Their 2007 Two Vines Vineyard 10 White Wine has aromas of apples and other orchard fruits, and flavors that include pears and melons. For more information on this Columbia Valley winery and vineyards, click here.