Wine Feature- by Kas VanKoevering
Though under the radar, Washington is the second-largest wine-producing state in the country. Known for the Seattle Seahawks, the Space Needle, and notoriously rainy weather, it’s also a major destination for wine lovers. Washington might want to think about changing its state fruit from apples to grapes. The Washington wine industry is booming! Washington is ranked among the world’s top wine regions and the state continually receives rewards for its wine’s consistent high quality. There are over 70 different types of grapes grown in Washington, and that number is steadily increasing. Top varietals for red wine are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. For those of you who prefer white wine, the state’s finest varietals include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. In general, these wines bring together a New World ripeness of flavor, like California and Australia- with an Old World type of acid and tannin structure, similar to the austerity of the wines from places like France and Italy. This creates an expression that straddles the two styles, but remains distinct to Washington.
What makes the state’s wines taste the way they do? It’s a combination of three factors: geography, geology and climate. Due to Washington’s northern latitude, the state has a short, bright growing season. The Columbia Valley starts accumulating heat units later than wine regions to the south. Additionally, temperatures cool off earlier in the fall. That preserves acidity and color without washing out flavors. Irrigation brings great advantages, also. During the season, growers can apply exactly the amount of water they want, precisely when they want it. So while vintage quality depends on the whims of rainfall throughout many of the world’s wine regions, in Washington, it does not. Growers have control over canopy growth, shoot length, berry size and cluster weight, all of which affect quality. The grower is in control of vigor. It gives the ability to fine-tune crop stress and the quality of fruit.
In 1967, Chateau Ste. Michelle produced its first Cabernet Sauvignon. With that vintage, the Washington wine industry officially landed on the map. Today Washington is home to more than 900 wineries, with a dozen more popping up every year! Winemakers all agree that Washington has an important spot in the wine world today, and they are making huge strides in terms of the quality of what they are producing. That is why all of March and April we are featuring some of our favorite (and soon to be yours!) Washington wines. The best part? We will be putting them all on sale, for 60 days! They will be rolling into Pettyjohn’s starting March 1st from the Columbia Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla, and representative from all 14 appellations. Whether you are discovering something new, or stocking up on your well-known favorite, this is a deal you don’t want to miss.