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Home Wine Regions USA Wine Regions USA Wine Regions - Washington

USA Wine Regions - Washington

Who would have guessed that Johnny Appleseed's target would become a wine making area? But for the last 50 years, that is what has happened to the northwestern United States.

Washington has proven a particularly good wine grape growing area. French wines do great here. The same weather extremes of rain, snow, and heat that make the area hard for grape growing seem to make it good for wine grape flavor.

One advantage of this region is that it is quite far to the north. So during the main summer growing season when popular wine vineyards of California are only getting about 15 hours of sunlight daily, the vineyards of Washington get more than 17 hours of sunlight daily. Also, for those grapes grown to the east of the mountains, low rainfall and humidity help prevent the growth of unwanted pests during the grape growing seasons. This is why grapes grow much better east of the mountains than they do in the area surrounding Seattle.

Actually, Washington has had wine grapes growing for nearly two centuries. They were first planted by various European immigrants. They never really figured out how to make their grapes grow in this region or how to convert them into good wines. But modern commercialized production methods have taken full advantage of the local climate to turn Washington into a wine grapes growing powerhouse. More than 16 million gallons of wine are produced in Washington annually.

New technologies have been supplemented by improved understandings of how to grow grapes in desert conditions. New irrigation methods allow just the right amount of water to reach the vines. This is aided by more than adequate water supply from large rivers in the region.

The local soil is well-suited for wine growing, being mostly sandy loam or silt. This type of soil provides very good drainage.

As you might expect in such a cold region, the vines are quite dormant during winters. The main thing is planting directly to root rather than rootstock each year.

There are a wide array of popular wines grown in Washington. Everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay can be grown here. Interestingly, white wine grapes tend to fare more productively in Washington than red wine grapes.

Huge temperature variations between day and night help to ripen the grapes without over-sweetening them. It also helps to keep them acidic. Locals are now capitalizing on these and the other environmental benefits here to the extent that more than 350 wineries are in operation.