Walla Walla Valley AVA

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Walla Walla Valley AVA
Wine region
Walla Walla AVA map.JPG
Type American Viticultural Area
Year established 1984, amended 2001[1]
Country USA
Part of Columbia Valley AVA, Oregon, Washington
Growing season 190 to 220 days
Precipitation (annual average) 12.5 inches (31.8 cm)
Soil conditions Loess soil, unstratified calcareous silt
Size of planted vineyards 1,200 acres (486 ha)[2]
Grapes produced Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Cinsault, Counoise, Dolcetto, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Pinot noir, Sangiovese, Semillon, Syrah, Viognier[2]
Wine produced Varietal, Dessert wine, Sparkling wine, Meritage
Comments The AVA (located within the black outline in the blue box) extends south into Northern Oregon

The Walla Walla Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located within Washington State and extending partly into the northeastern corner of Oregon. The wine region is entirely included within the larger Columbia Valley AVA. The area is named after the Walla Walla people who lived along the shores of the Walla Walla River at its junction with the Snake River and the Columbia River. The name Walla Walla means "rapid stream" or "many waters". In addition to grapes, this area is an agricultural producer of sweet onions, wheat and strawberries.[3] After the Yakima Valley AVA, the Walla Walla AVA has the second highest concentration of vineyards and wineries in Washington State.[4]

Geography and climate[edit]

The soils of the Walla Walla Valley consist largely of wind-deposited silt known as loess, that provides good drainage for the vines. The area receives minimum rainfall and thus relies on irrigation to supply water to vineyards. The 200-day long growing season is characterized by hot days and cool nights.[3] The valley is prone to sudden shifts in temperature as cold air swoops down from the Blue Mountains and gets caught in the Snake and Columbia river valleys. While generally cooler than the surrounding Columbia Valley AVA, temperatures in the winter time can drop to −20 °F (−29 °C).[5]

The southern part of Walla Walla Valley extends into the state of Oregon and is one of the warmer wine growing regions in that state, after the Rogue Valley. Syrah is a major planting in this area.[6]

History[edit]

The Wallula Gap which is just west of the Walla Walla Valley AVA near the confluence of the Walla Walla River and Columbia.

The Walla Walla Valley became an early leader in the beginnings of the Washington wine industry when the town of Walla Walla was founded by the Hudson's Bay Company as a trading post in the 1840s. French fur trappers settled in a small town outside the city known as Frenchtown near Lowden and began planting grapes.[7] In the late 1850s, a settler named A.B. Roberts established the first nursery in Walla Walla, importing grape vines from Champoeg, Oregon.[8] In 1859, the city of Walla Walla was incorporated and the Idaho gold rush of 1860 helped make the area a bustling trade center. When the gold rush ended, the economic focus of the state switched to Western Washington and the city of Seattle, lessening the influence of Walla Walla.[7] In 1883, Northern Pacific Railway bypassed the Walla Walla Valley for a route from Spokane to Seattle. This essentially cut off Walla Walla from the growing markets of the west. That same year a severe frost devastated the area's grapevines and caused a lot of the earlier grape growers to abandon their crops.[9] The dawning of Prohibition in the United States in the early 20th century finished off the remaining aspect of the area as a wine region.[7]

The rebirth of the Walla Walla wine industry occurred in the 1970s when Leonetti Cellars was founded on 1-acre (4,000 m2) of Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. The winery gradually expanded and achieved worldwide recognition as it became one of Washington's most sought-after cult wines. The founding of Woodward Canyon Winery in 1981 and L'Ecole No. 41 in 1983 added to the area's visibility in the wine world and the appellation was granted AVA status in 1984.[10]

Grapes[edit]

A red blend from the Walla Walla Valley.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most well known and widely planted grape in the area, followed by Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc.[3]

As of 2007:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.91 Walla Walla Valley." Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Appellation America (2007). "Walla Walla Valley (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Jan. 30, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c T. Parker Discovering Washington Wines pg 43 Raconteurs Press 2002 ISBN 0-9719258-5-2
  4. ^ T. Parker Discovering Washington Wines pg 91 Raconteurs Press 2002 ISBN 0-9719258-5-2
  5. ^ R. Irvine & W. Clore The Wine Project pg 58 Sketch Publications 1997 ISBN 0-9650834-9-7
  6. ^ H. Steiman "Cooler is better for Oregon Pinot" Wine Spectator Dec 31st, 2006
  7. ^ a b c T. Parker Discovering Washington Wines pg 44 Raconteurs Press 2002 ISBN 0-9719258-5-2
  8. ^ R. Irvine & W. Clore The Wine Project pg 60-61 Sketch Publications 1997 ISBN 0-9650834-9-7
  9. ^ R. Irvine & W. Clore The Wine Project pg 63 Sketch Publications 1997 ISBN 0-9650834-9-7
  10. ^ T. Parker Discovering Washington Wines pg 45 Raconteurs Press 2002 ISBN 0-9719258-5-2

Coordinates: 46°N 118°W / 46°N 118°W / 46; -118