Why not Try Washington’s Wines for a Change?
by Agi Toth Babochay, DipWSET
Tour Director, Sommelier for “Washington Wines Revealed”
Many of you fellow wine lovers immediately think of Napa Valley as soon as the subject of wine comes up, but do you know about the second largest premium wine-producing state of Washington? Here are some fast facts:
- There are over 900 wineries operating from the Seattle / Northwest area to the very southeastern corner of the state in Walla Walla.
- The wineries span 14 AVAs (American viticultural areas) or wine regions, growing over 40 different grape varieties producing 16 million cases a year
- Though modern day winemaking didn’t take off until the 1970s, the first vines were planted in 1825 at Fort Vancouver.
- It was the cataclysmic floods at the end of the last ice age that created the perfect soil composition necessary for successful grape growing called the Missoula Floods. Travelers on our tour in July will see the stunning transition of landscape between the forested areas of Seattle and Woodinville to the semi-arid desert region of the state as we head east past the towering Cascade Mountain range.
- Washington winemakers boast that their state receives 2 hours more of sunshine on a daily basis during the growing season than California, thereby assuring that grapes reach optimum ripeness levels.If you love Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends, then move over California and make way for Washington! The former is the most planted variety in Washington with its perfect blending partner, Merlot, coming in second as the most planted red variety. Winemakers at Betz, Long Shadows, Force Majeur and Figgins are creating full-bodied, complex, supple long-lasting wines that have been highly rated by all noteworthy wine writers.
Wine term of the day: Tannin: tannins are the much-touted healthful anti-oxidants found in the seeds, skin and stalks of grapes as well as wine. They are an important structural component of wine, giving it backbone and the ability to age. Tannins are perceived on the palate as dryness but also comes from oak treatment. Sensing vanilla, toastiness, tobacco and cinnamon are indications that the wine was aged in oak.
So, fellow wine lovers, why not try Washington wines for a change?