Description 1 of 2

Walla Walla is a wine region within Columbia Valley that straddles both Oregon and Washington. Wine-making began in the mid-1800s, when an influx of pioneers, many of them Italian immigrants, who first settled in the area for the burgeoning fur trade and the Idaho gold rush. Though the commercial wine industry didn’t catch on in the region until the 1950s when the Pesciallo family established Blue Mountain Vineyards, the first in the region since the Prohibition. 

By the 1970s, wine-makers could see the potential for greatness thanks to climate conditions conducive to long growing seasons. The Cascade Mountain forms a natural rain shadow that protects the region, resulting in hot days and cool nights. There are a variety of terroirs extending through the region from the Blue Mountains downward. Glacial melt from the time of the Ice Age has left a deposit of rich, grape-friendly silt in much of the growing region. Walla Walla was granted AVA status in 1984. 
Walla Walla is know for its focused and concentrated reds from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, with more recent emphasis on Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc. The whites cultivated are mainly Chardonnay with some Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. 
For a while, the trend was for wine-makers to source grapes from other parts of the Columbia Valley for its wines. However, more recently, some reputable wines are produced from grapes that are grown only in Walla Walla terroirs. The region is also shifting more emphasis on sustainable wine-making practices as technologies advance. 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

Led by pioneering Washington wineries such as Leonetti Cellar and Woodward Canyon, Walla Walla Valley quickly launched itself into stardom, more than 20 years ago. But although the AVA was formally recognized in 1984, there were barely 60 acres of vines in the entire valley, and most of those were located in Oregon.

True Walla Walla wines were few and far between until the mid-1990s, when substantial new plantings at Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and a few other sites began to provide grapes to the growing number of boutique wineries. Today, as the winery population of the county nears 100, there are still just 1200 bearing acres.

The Walla Walla Valley AVA is a subset of the Columbia Valley, and spills across the border into Oregon. It is roughly diamond-shaped, with the Blue Mountains forming a cup-like eastern border around the valley, which broadens and flattens as it opens to the west. Distinctive and very different micro-climates have begun to emerge and it seems very likely that the appellation will be meaningfully subdivided in the not-too-distant future.

The valley is defined by its geologic past … and the impact it has on the present. At the conclusion of the most recent Ice Age, much of Eastern Washington experienced the largest basaltic lava floods in geological history. The floods “backed up” into the Walla Walla Valley, depositing rich silt and scattering huge boulders, called “erratics.” Though the majority of vineyards are irrigated, this is one of the rare places in Eastern Washington with the potential, in at least a few sites, to be dry farmed. Walla Walla’s outstanding winemaking community has forged a well-deserved reputation for its Syrahs, Merlots, and Cabernet Sauvignons. The grapes are often included in a single blend, a sort of super-Wallan red. Some excellent Sangiovese is also grown, along with scattered, tiny plots of exotic grapes such as Counoise, Carmenère, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo and Barbera.

Many Walla Walla wineries purchase grapes from other Columbia Valley appellations, but when Walla Walla grapes are used exclusively, the region clearly demonstrates not just one, but several distinct and excellent terroirs.

~ Paul Gregutt – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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