Today, we are proud to announce the addition of two new American Viticultural Areas to the Washington State Winegrowing map.
Washington’s wineries were granted the right to grow American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) back in 2017. These wineries are allowed to plant specific grape varieties in certain locations, and are far from the traditional “wine-grapes” of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc. The AVAs are planted to create distinct variations of Washington grapes. For example, in the Yakima Valley, where many Washington wines are produced, the AVAs grow wine grapes that are much less sweet (Reds) than the sweetness of most Washington wines.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law the addition of two new American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), the first new AVA in the western U.S. in more than 60 years, increasing the total number of AVAs in Washington state to 18.. Read more about washington grape harvest 2020 and let us know what you think.View White Bluffs and The Burn of Columbia Valley bring the total number of AVAs in Washington to 18. SEATTLE (June 16, 2021) – Two new American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) have emerged in Washington. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will be meeting tomorrow, the 17th. June 2021, publication of final rules for White Bluffs and The Burn of Columbia Valley to officially designate them as wine regions. We were excited about the new AGMs and look forward to seeing their names on wine labels, said Steve Warner, chairman of the Washington State Wine Commission. The fact that Washington DC has 18 AGMs and will soon have more is a good sign of growth. This is a very exciting time for grape growers and winemakers working with these renowned regions. To obtain AVA status, the wine-growing region must be distinguished by characteristics such as climate, soil, altitude and physical features. From the 19th. In July 2021, wine producers can apply to the TTB for a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for a label that uses the new AVA names as designations of origin. A brief description of the distinguishing features :
|White Rocks||The Columbia Valley is on fire|
|On the plateau, the extra height protects the vineyards from the cold air of the valley floor and extends the growing season.||Slower heat development means a longer ripening period, allowing more flavor to develop over a longer growing season and more acid to be retained.|
|Unlike most areas in the Columbia Valley, there are no basalt rocks within reach of the vines’ roots here.||On average slightly more precipitation and soils with a greater water storage capacity.|
|Many of the vines are over 40 years old, mostly planted on steep slopes.||The constant winds coming from the side of the gorge slow down the development of the grapes.|
White Bluffs AVA Imageis courtesy of Kent Walliser of Sagemoor Vineyards. The White Bluffs AVA encompasses 93,738 acres of land located entirely within the Columbia Valley AVA. It is located in the middle of the Columbia Valley, just north of the Tri-Cities. White Bluffs is defined by great old vineyards that have an excellent reputation for producing fine wines, said Dr. Kevin Pogue, who wrote the petition to create an AGM for White Bluffs. With adequate irrigation through the Columbia Basin Project, there is plenty of room for expansion. The characteristic features of the White Bluffs AVA are:
- The AVA consists of two plateaus that average 200 feet above the surrounding plains of the Pasco Basin. The extra height protects the vineyards from the cold air coming from the valley floor and extends the growing season.
- The name White Bluffs comes from a layer of ancient lake sediments lying beneath the silt and aeolian sediments of the Missoula Flood. This white-coloured sedimentary layer is called the Ringgold Formation. Thanks to this layer:
- The vines cannot come into contact with the basalt rock, unlike almost all other vineyards in the Columbia Basin;
- Vines have a different set of minerals that they interact with;
- These sediments have a higher clay content, which affects the water retention capacity.
Currently there are 1,127 acres of grapes planted in nine commercial vineyards with many well-known varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Currently, 92 wineries only buy fruit from our vineyards, says Kent Walliser, director of wine and grape sales for Sagemoor Vineyards, which owns four vineyards in the AVA. Some wineries have been around for over 40 years, so they have stood the test of time. It is a place that has always been known, but until now not named. It’s time to define it as a place. Columbia Valley AVA Burns Image courtesy of Ste. Michelle Vineyards The Burn of Columbia Valley AVA encompasses 16,870 acres and is entirely within the Columbia Valley AVA. It lies to the west of the hills of Horse Heaven and is triangular in shape. The three commercial vineyards currently have approximately 1,500 acres planted with grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon being the primary variety. Corporate Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Mercer Ranches operate vineyards in the AVA, sometimes called The Burn for short. Burn is an impressive and beautiful hidden gem, says Rob Mercer, president of Mercer Ranches. Hardly anyone has seen this incredibly fertile plateau that rises above the Columbia River at the eastern end of the Columbia Gorge. The canyon has a similar soil to the Walla Walla Valley, but the temperature is much warmer and milder. Time and experience will tell, but I think this place will become one of the most sought after places for wine grape production in Washington State. I was honored to be a vinifera pioneer here. The exact origin of the name is unknown, but according to the AVA petition, the area has been called The Burn for over 100 years. According to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, some of its defining characteristics include:
- Overall, heat accumulation is consistent with other warm regions of the state, although heat generally accumulates over a longer season, extending the hanging season and reducing the pressure of spring and fall frosts. The heat does indeed accelerate the ripening of the fruit, but the strong winds that blow in the region slow down the ripening. Because of this dynamic, The Burn’s grapes are among the last to be harvested in the state, with excellent ripeness, flavor and acidity.
- Due to its more westerly location and proximity to the Columbia Gorge, a natural bend in the Cascade Range, it receives slightly more precipitation on average than other areas of the Columbia Valley. Moreover, the soils of Brûlé have greater water retention capacity than the more sandy soils of the entire region.
- A notable effect is caused by the constant winds in the throat that slow down the maturation. But because of the warmth and a longer growing season, the fruit is still fully phenolic ripe, with lots of color and concentration. For this reason, The Burn is a warm appellation that in some ways behaves like a cooler appellation.
The unique combination of heavier soils, windier conditions and a longer growing season makes Washington’s new AVA the next great region to produce elegant but structured Cabernet Sauvignons, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Juan Munoz-Oca. I look forward to showcasing the uniqueness of this region through our wines and look forward to learning more about the terroir with each vintage. About the Washington State Wine Commission: The Washington State Wine Commission (WSWC) represents all licensed wineries and wine grape growers in Washington State. The WSWC is governed by an appointed board of directors and provides a marketing platform to increase awareness of Washington’s wine industry and drive demand for Washington wines. The WSWC is a state agency created by the legislature in 1987 and funded almost entirely by the industry through contributions from grape and wine sales. For more information, see www.washingtonwine.org. View The Evergreen State is developing its wine industry with the designation of two new American Viticultural Areas, the first in over 30 years and the second the result of a collaboration between the Washington Wine Commission and the Oregon Wine Board. The new areas are the result of a partnership between the Washington State University and the Department of Viticulture and Enology within the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.. Read more about washington winery and let us know what you think.
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