Put Walla Walla and Yakima Valley on Your Wine List

Washington wines

Here we are atop Elephant Hill Vineyard in the Yakima Valley

We recently attended the annual Wine Bloggers Conference held in the city of Walla Walla, Washington. There are so many amazing facets to discover in this wine region.  We spent time visiting wineries and sampling many wines from both the Walla Walla and the Yakima Valley AVA’s. These two AVA’s  are emerging into world famous wine country. The soil, climate, and geology make the area an ideal growing condition for many varieties of wine grapes. Also joining Janelle and me at the Wine Bloggers Conference was Vintage Wine Taster and  Blogger Mike Beltran.

It is our second visit to the area; we were here in 2010.  We loved it then, and it is more impressive this time around. More wineries and tasting rooms have opened their doors to wine country travelers. The people are still friendly and respectful. Wine Snobbery and pretentious behavior do not exist. The roads are free of traffic. The pace is slow and relaxing.  It is what the Napa Valley was like back in the day.

Have you tried any Washington Wines? You owe it to yourself and friends to have Washington wines on your wine rack. Here is why: 1. Washington wines are different from California wines. This difference comes from several factors, and this is what makes the wine so interesting. The wine growing area is desert country. Yakima Valley gets only 5 to 6 inches of rain a year. Further east, Walla Walla receives 10 inches. No mildew or mold, and fewer pests are present because of the dry environment.

2. The soil is different from one vineyard plot to the next. The soil profiles come from ancient times, formed by volcanic activity and the great Missoula Floods. The Missoula Floods churned the landscape and reshaped the land. We visited one vineyard which has 16 different varieties of grapes flourishing. Check out this 30-second video to get a glimpse of the terrain in Yakima Valley. It’s windy here.

3. Washington gets a vast amount of sunlight hours during the growing season. The latitude gives the wines a couple of hours more of sunshine than California vineyards. How about this: Yakima and Walla Walla have the same latitude as Burgundy and Bordeaux.

You must give Washington wines a try!

Where to find Washington State Wine Bargains

The big producers are Chateau St. Michel, Columbia Crest, Charles Smith, and Maryhill Winery. These wineries produce millions of cases of various wine varieties from grapes grown throughout the Columbia Valley AVA. You should be able to find many excellent wines from these wine companies for under $20.

It is the small guys that will be difficult to find. The small wineries are family owned and produce a max of 5000 cases per year. The small wineries grow or source their fruit from the sub-AVA’s of the Columbia Valley. Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Yakima, Rattlesnake Hill, Horse Haven Hills and others.

Jared Burns Revelry winery

New breed winemaker, Jared Burns – Revelry Vintners in Walla Walla AVA

It is not easy to find wines from the boutique wineries from this area in wine shops or supermarkets. Here are some resources for the San Francisco Bay Area:  KL Wines and Total Wines. Some labels we like include these vintners: Waterbrook, Woodward Canyon, Canoe Ridge, L’Ecole, Revelry and Armstrong. Use wine-searcher.com or 1000corks.com to find Washington wine in your area.

I recently found this Washington wine at Costco. It was the only Washington wine on the shelf at the Foster City Costco. I will give it a try and let you know if it is worthy of a buy. The cost is $15.99.

Mercer Cabernet Horse Haven Hills

Mercer Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – Horse Haven Hills in Columbia AVA – Costco $15.99

One of our Vintage Wine Tasters enjoys any wine made by 14 Hands Winery. 14 Hands wines are in Trader Joe’s stores. What do you like in Washington wines? If you have not sampled any Washington State wines, that’s your assignment this week. Try one red and one white.

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