Five cool facts about Washington wine

Judith Papesh
Wine Education grey Dot Regions & Terroir grey Dot

Washington wines hold a special place in our hearts at Rising Wines Collective, and we’re excited to continue spreading the word about what makes these wines unique. Here are five of our favorite facts about Washington wines.

Time to rummage in the closet for that big “We’re number 2” foam finger! 

Tucked up in the northwest corner of the U.S., Washington is the second-largest wine producer in the nation after California. Sixty thousand acres of wine grapes in 20 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) find their way into 17 million cases of wine. A few of those bottles should make it to your table. (If you’re still looking, that foam finger is probably next to the giant cowboy hat. Our secret.) 

Unique terroir of Washington wines

Washington straddles the 46N parallel, joining premium wine regions around the world. The Wine Commission describes Washington as a land of fire and ice, with terroir shaped by time, volcanic activity, and glacial floods. The result is a diverse landscape that combines soils, elevation, and climate into an ideal home for an impressive eighty different grape varieties.  

The Columbia Valley AVA

The Columbia Valley AVA is Washington’s most extensive and includes most of the state’s sub-appellations. The Columbia Valley benefits from a rain shadow from the Cascade Mountains, and the Cascades tame the Pacific Ocean influences resulting in a different growing space than other west coast states. A visit confirms classic a character; Washington wines have trademark rich, ripe New World flavors that weave in Old World structure.

Bring your sunscreen 

Summer sunlight during the growing season peaks at 17 hours per day, allowing grapes to reach full ripeness and develop intense flavor. Eastern Washington is a high desert with daytime temperatures often over 90 degrees, but there are no agitated and overheated grapes here. Nightfall brings a 30-40 degree temperature drop. This diurnal shift preserves vital acidity and is key to a more intense acid profile in the wines compared to other warm regions. 

Big country. Big wine. Big value.

A lot is happening in Washington, with its 1,100+ wineries. The vibrant wine scene includes hundreds of urban wineries in Seattle, Woodinville, Spokane, and even more in the vineyards.

Washington wines are richly fruited, structured, complex, and age-worthy. There are many tempting options, from bone-dry Riesling to robust Cabernet Sauvignon.

Value-conscious wine lovers note that 45% of Washington’s wines have received 90+ scores from the Wine Spectator in the last ten years, at an average bottle price of half the comparable bottles from other regions. Learn more fun facts about Washington wines and ways to incorporate them into your regular wine routine.

Learn more about Washington wines

10 things we love about Washington wine

A brief history of Washington wine

Learn about Washington wine

Perspectives on Washington and Bordeaux

I’ll have a Washington white wine, thank you! 

Washington is America’s awakening red wine giant

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About Judith Papesh

Retired Winemaker, Winemaking Consultant, and Washington State Licensed Geologist. Bourgogne Master Level Certification, French, Italian, and Spanish Wine Scholar Certifications

In the first class to complete Washington State University (WSU) Extension Enology Certification, Judith opened her winery, crafting wines that garnered local and international acclaim before turning her attention to studying and educating about the world's wines. "Winemaking is very much an art as well as a science; it is a consuming passion that drives you during the day, keeps you up at night, and when the wine is right, simply leaves you breathless."