Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Washington wines and vineyards are not quite as well known as Napa Valley is, but we’re coming awfully close. Dr. Jay Miller of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate recently had words of praise for many varietals grown in the region saying, “Riesling is capable of big things in Washington,” and that “the overall quality of Washington Merlot is high and better on average than that produced in Napa and Sonoma.” Dr. Miller also praised our Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot as becoming “the hot ticket” and scored 469 Washington wines at 90 points or higher, a 40 percent increase over 2009, in his report earlier this fall. Most recently Wine Spectator magazine‘s Harvey Steiman attributes several reasons why Washington now produces some of the world’s most favorable wines. He cites Eastern Washington’s dry yet nutrient-rich terrain where 99 percent of the state’s vineyards are located. Eastern Washington receives approximately eight inches of rain annually which is not enough to grow grapes. However, the region is blessed with two rivers, the Yakima and Columbia providing enough water to grow many varieties of fruits, vegetables, and grains. In addition the region’s geographic history of floods and volcanoes millennia ago provided the nutrients needed to grow grapes and other commodities. Washington state also lies on the 45th and 46th parallels making for longer summer days than California and at harvest, the days get shorter and cooler faster when you don’t want a lot of heat. Washington now boasts of over 650 wineries producing 11 million cases from 36,000 acres on 11 American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s), each creating wines with its unique characteristics. Even New York’s venerable wine shop Sherry-Lehmann carries four times the number of Washington wines as they did a decade ago. This is old news for us in the Yakima Valley; we’ve been the “Nation’s Fruitbowl” since the turn of the 20th century. Award winning wines now complement our “Fruitbowl”, we feel, quite nicely. Attributed in part to www.washingtonwines.org, and Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate magazines.