Description 1 of 1
Yakima Valley, within the Columbia Valley district, became Washington State’s first official AVA in 1983. Wine-making in the valley can be traced back to the early days of the pioneers in the 1860s, but its commercial success didn’t hit until much later. In the 1930s, oenologist Dr. Walter Clore of Washington State University Research Center, established experimental vineyards in the valley. In the 1960s, Charles Nagel is credited with starting the Washington Wine Project focusing on Yakima Valley grapes that were grown by Clore. By the early 1980s, Covey Run and Hogue Cellars had achieved commercial success just before the AVA was designated. Today, Yakima Valley has the most concentrated vine plantings in the state, making up a large percentage of its wine production and grape-sourcing.
The cool-climate region is largely protected by a rain shadow formed by the Cascade Mountains. The Yakima river and its tributaries and canals provide the needed irrigation for the wineries as well as the many fruit orchards throughout the valley. With this bit of a quenching nudge, the sunny days and cool nights create a long growing season, which yields well balanced grapes. Varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling all thrive well under these conditions.
In order to delineate the terroirs and microclimates within Yakima Valley, there are three subregions:
*Rattlesnake Hills: designated AVA in 2006. This subregion has higher elevations and with less of a sandy mix in the soil than the rest of the valley regions.
*Red Mountain: Designated AVA in 2001. Famous for the cheatgrass that turns red in spring, and for its Cabernets.
*Snipes Mountain: designated AVA in 2009. Noted for free-draining soils in elevated, slopey vineyards that produce high quality Muscat, Gewürtraminer and Pinot Noir as well as the usual varietals.
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