North America | Washington State

Arial shot of Horse Heaven Hills Benches Vineyard Washington State

Located in the Pacific North West of America, Washington State is the second largest premium wine producer in the United States and the quality of its wine stands shoulder to shoulder with those from California.

Washington State has 14 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and 900+ wineries encompassing a diverse collection of climates, grape varieties, vineyard practices, and winemaking styles.

The mosaic of landscapes, from evergreen coasts and snow-capped mountains to a vast sagebrush desert where the sun shines 300 days a year provides perfect conditions for winemakers to grow a wide range of grape varieties including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling and Chardonnay.

Traditionally, wineries are located next to or close to their vineyards, however, Washington, generally, completely breaks this model as many wineries are located dozens and even hundreds of miles from the vineyards they work with.

But this gives the wineries a number of significant advantages. First, purchasing grapes minimises the startup time for a winery and has contributed to the industry’s rapid growth. Second, it allows wineries to set up wherever they like, be it near the consumer hub of Seattle or in the far reaches of the state that they call home. Third, not being tied to a single vineyard source in a single location means that wineries can experiment with vineyards all across Washington. They can make a wine that blends, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Horse Heaven Hills with Merlot from Red Mountain and Petit Verdot from the Wahluke Slope, taking what they feel is the best from each location. Using a diversity of sites also helps keep quality consistent across vintages. Lastly, working with a diversity of sites in different locations also helps protect against disruptions caused by Washington’s occasional spring and fall frosts and winter freezes.

The vast majority of wineries in Washington are small, family producers making less than 5,000 cases annually. The small, artisan nature of the industry contributes to producing wines of exceptional quality.

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