Description 1 of 2

 

The Columbia Valley AVA straddles both Washington and Oregon, though the majority of its wineries are on the Washington side. This vast region is home to most of the state’s prestigious subregions.
 
The valley benefits from a natural rain shadow from the Cascade Mountains, which limits precipitation. It is located at 46 to 47 degrees latitude - the same as Bordeaux and Burgundy - with two hour’s more of sunlight than California. These long, hot days in summer followed by cool nights ensure a long growing season and peak phenol balance in the grapes grown here. Many of the vineyards are situated on the Columbia River and its tributaries, though many require some additional irrigation due to the dry conditions. Evenings can get quite cold and air turbines are used throughout the valley to guard against frost. But the frost has other benefits as this, along with its sandy soil, repels Phylloxera. This means that the vines grown in Columbia Valley are all “pure bred” and not hybrids. This is popular with purists who believe these single-origin vines produce the best varietal results. 
 
The main grape varietals produced are for reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese. For whites: Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Semillon.
 
The Walla Walla Valley is within the Columbia Valley, and also encompasses both Oregon and Washington. 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

The Columbia Valley AVA is Washington's largest viticultural region, covering almost 11 million acres (4,451,700 hectares) which represents a full third of Washington State's land mass. 6,693 vineyard acres (2,709 hectares) of wine grapes are planted and approximately 100 wineries are encompassed within its borders. Columbia Valley's vast size allows for a number of meso- and micro-climates. Vineyards are planted on predominately south-facing slopes, increasing solar radiation in summer and promoting air drainage in winter. Merlot is the most widely planted varietal, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Riesling and Syrah are also grown in significant quantities. Growing season of 180-200 days with annual rainfall averaging 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm). The Columbia Valley contains the American Viticultural Regions of Red Mountain, Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys, Wahluke Slope and Horse Heaven Hills within its borders. The above paragraphs are taken directly from the Washington Wine Commision. A sub-appellation of note is Lake Chelan which should be receiving AVA status in Spring 2009. This region is located in north central Washington and is currently home to 12 wineries and 200 acres of vineyard. A surprisingly high number of heat units have been recorded for this area, which results in a good growing season for many grape varieties. Growers have planted vineyards in the area to Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Lake Chelan provides the geographic boundaries of the proposed Chelan Valley AVA and also moderates temperatures for the growing area.

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