Columbia Valley Wines to Try Now

Columbia Valley Wines
Wines from the Columbia Valley

The Columbia Valley is a vast AVA which sits to the east of the Cascades. It is so big that only two of Washington’s AVAs are not a sub-AVA of Columbia Valley. Some of the Columbia Valley’s famous sub-AVAs are Red Mountain, Walla Walla Valley, and Yakima Valley. When a wine label has Columbia Valley on it, the grapes come from various parts of the AVA. These wines cost less than a sub AVA designated wine, but some are spectacular wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard is Yakima, a sub AVA of the Columbia Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Yakima, a sub AVA of the Columbia Valley

We have been to the Columbia Valley, spending much time in the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla. Not only are there vineyards of many grape varieties, but other valuable produce: apples, hops, cherries, and much more. The area is a terrific area for folks who love food and wine. The town of Walla Walla is very tourist worthy. Restaurants and tasting rooms are everywhere. In the Prosser area of Yakima Valley, there is a heavy concentration of working wineries with excellent tasting rooms. The place is so laid back that it reminds seasoned wine travelers of the good old days in the Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Recommended Columbia Valley Wines

The Vintage Wine Tasters spent the last couple of weeks tasting Columbia Valley wines. Here are the ones we recommend, the cost, and where to find them in the stores.

2018 14 Hands Hot to Trot Smooth Red Blend

The Hot to Trot Red Smooth Red Blend is a staple at Trader Joe’s. I can see why, at $7.99, and as tasty as it is, it must be one of TJ’s best-selling red wines. Smooth, as the label indicates, is what this wine is all about. It is medium bodied with lots of delicious red and dark fruit. The blend is quite unusual. The spec sheet indicates the wine is mostly Merlot and Syrah, and includes small amounts of several other red grapes. An easy 88 points in my book.

2018 Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A very delicious Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s an outstanding value, because this Cab rocks with depth and layered flavors of the Cab grape. I think it is a testament to the quality of the vineyards of the Columbia Valley. Washington Cabs are powerful wines, but well balanced and especially suitable with red meats. 89 Points for the Columbia Valley from the Kirkland label.

2016 Tenet Syrah, The Pundit

Joe recommends the Tenet Syrah, The Pundit. What a terrific-looking bottle and label. Produced as a cooperative effort by Chateau Ste. Michelle and two French winemakers. Joe: “The Pundit is a full-bodied, flavorful Syrah blended with less than 1% Mourvedre, Grenache, and Viognier grapes. Slightly noticeable tannins, moderate chocolate and red fruit flavors, and the finish is full and satisfying. The Pundit serves as a fine red table wine and as an accompaniment to most red meat dishes. $17.99 at K&L.”

2016 Kiona Vineyards, Estate Red Mountain AVA

Bruce: Lemberger is a grape found in Austria and Hungary. I find the Lemberger grape is much like the Syrah grape. It is delightfully spicy, with a little tingling in the finish. The grapes are from the Red Mountain AVA, a sub-AVA of the Columbia Valley. It is at Weimax Wines for $13.99 and I recommend this wine.

2015 Gordon Estate Cabernet

Mike: “It is worth $35. The wine has a dark color with crushed dark berries and a bit of earthy tangibles. I am most impressed with the body and palate, which improved with time in the glass. 89 points.”

2016 Pacific Heights Cabernet Sauvignon

Ray found two Columbia Valley wines to try at his Grocery Outlet in Pacific. Ray recommends the Pacific Heights Cab: “For the price of $7.99, this is a bottle of very satisfactory table wine. It tastes and delivers like a solid Cabernet. I also purchased the Garden Estate Merlot at the Grocery Outlet. I would not recommend it. “

2018 Rich Table Cabernet Sauvignon

George recommends this wine by Andrew Rich. “A spectacular wine! This a delicious Cabernet, and for $20, it tastes more like a $30 bottle of wine. Andrew Rich is an esteemed winemaker in Oregon. He is famous for Pinot, but Andrew cannot pass up the exceptional Cabernet coming from the Columbia Valley. It is at Weimax Wines in Burlingame.”

2017 Avennia Columbia Valley Rhône Blend

According to the KL Wines Website, the Avennia red blend was previously a $40 of wine and now is selling for half price. Jim A thinks it is a glass of fantastic-tasting wine. The blend 61% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, and 16% Syrah. The Avennia has high marks (92 Points) from both Parker and Vinous. The Wine Enthusiast has it at 93 Points. Delicious!

2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Jim C is our expert on wines under $10. He picks the 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at Costco. It is a “gorgeous Cabernet and worth a lot more than ten bucks. Costco delivers again.”

More on the wines of Washington State

Do you have a favorite wine from the Columbia Valley? Tell us all about it. Thank you for sharing your wine recommendations.


  1. Greetings, Joe.
    Great call on the Kiona Lemberger. That uniquely delicious wine consistently helps the Williams family get their foot in the door at restaurants and retailers on the East Coast.
    Just so you and your audience is aware, a number of producers – many of them in Walla Walla – will list “Columbia Valley” as the AVA on the bottle rather than “Yakima Valley” for vineyard-designated bottlings from the Yakima Valley because they believe “Columbia Valley” resonates beyond the Northwest more clearly.

    • Joe Becerra says

      Thanks for your comment on Kiona Lemberger. Als,o the very interesting information about labeling the wine with Columbia Valley rather than Yakima Valley. Your Website is very informative. Keep on writing. Cheers, Joe

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