Travel, Etc. --> Washington's Columbia Valley
Washington's Columbia Valley
The Perfect Wine Region?
Washington's Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) and its ten sub AVA's encompass over 11,000,000 acres, with 17,000 planted to grapes. In just three decades of commercial production, the region is now being recognized as capable of producing truly "World Class" wines, on a par with anything produced in Bordeaux or Napa Valley.
Why? Because it might be the closest thing to a perfect wine grape growing region that the planet possesses. The towering Cascade Mountains block the influence of the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia Valley and as a result, the rain shadow the mountains cast creates a high dessert. They receive no more that 6 to 8 inches of rain per year, meaning all vines must be irrigated. That alone gives the growers control over one of the most important variables in grape growing.
Then add in the facts that... the Valley stretches between the 46th and 47th parallel (the same as Bordeaux) a latitude that gives it two more hours of daylight during the summer growing season than California. The volcanic and sandy soils offer good drainage and are poor in nutrients, perfect for wine grape cultivation. And, the warm days and cool nights during the summer growing season provide ideal growing conditions with up to 40 degree swings between 2 pm and 2 am. That does not mean there can't be problems. Early frost can damage crops and sustained hard freezes can kill vines. But compared to most of their grape growing brethren, Washington grape growers have the most potential for consistent quality in the world.
And consistent they are. These are Wine Spectator's vintage scores for the last thirteen years in four major growing regions. Notice that Washington has only failed to have a vintage scored less than 90 once in the last 13 years. There is a reason that when I am confronted with unfamiliar wines on a wine list, I almost always choose a Washington wine.
February 10, 2016