Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley AVA

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Ancient Lakes AVA
Wine region
Al ava map.png
Official nameAncient Lakes of the Columbia Valley
TypeAmerican Viticulture Area
Year establishedOctober 2012[1]
CountryUnited States
Part ofColumbia Valley AVA, Washington
Growing season182 days
Precipitation (annual average)< 8" year
Soil conditionsQuincy loam and windblown loess soils
Total area162,762 acres[1]
Size of planted vineyardsApprox 1800 acres[2]
Grapes producedPrimary Grapes Produced: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot

The Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley AVA (referred to locally as the Ancient Lakes AVA) is an American Viticulture Area which lies on the western edge of the Columbia Basin near the town of Quincy in Washington State. The wine region is entirely included within the larger Columbia Valley AVA. Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley became the 13th AVA in Washington State on October 18, 2012.[1]


Missoula Floods

Lying between the Beezley Hills to the North and the Frenchman Hills to the south, the growing region was severely impacted by the immense water flows of the Missoula floods. The scouring effect of the waters stripped the top soils down to the basalt and scoured out canyons referred to locally as "coulees" which are prominent features near many of the planted vineyards.[3] The Columbia River forms the western border of the grape growing region.


Basalt and caliche rock are unique in their prominence of the soils in the grape growing areas. Missoula floods scoured the area stripping the original top soils along the western edge of the Quincy valley. Large standing pools of water left by the floods created thick deposits of caliche that lay over the basalt. With time, both rock types have fractured and are prominent in the soils. Quincy loam and windblown loess soils lay over the rocks.


The growing region lies close to the easternmost foothills of the Cascade Mountain range. A strong rain shadow effect gives the area one of the lowest precipitation rates[4] in the Columbia Valley.

Rain Shadow Effect.png

Grape growing[edit]

Deep in the heart of Washington Wine country, white wine grapes represent the bulk of the grape plantings in the growing region and are planted on the higher elevations (avg. 1200–1500') along the Beezley Hills and the Evergreen and Babcock ridges.

White Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris are dominant plantings along with red varieties used for rosé-style wines

Red wine varieties are planted in close proximity to the Columbia River along the benches and exposed basalt cliffs formed by the "cataract effects" of the Missoula floods. This area lies at a lower elevation and is considerably warmer, lending itself to red wine grape production including Syrah, Merlot and others.


  • Cave B- Familigia Vineyards
  • Jones of Washington
  • Evergreen Vineyards
  • Ryan Patrick Vineyards
  • Spanish Castle Vineyards
  • White Heron Cellars


  1. ^ a b c "Federal Register | Establishment of the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Viticultural Area". Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  2. ^ "Washington State Wine". Retrieved 2017-01-04.
  3. ^ Bjornstad, Bruce N. (2006). On the trail of the Ice Age floods : a geological field guide to the mid-Columbia basin. Sandpoint, Idaho: Keokee Books. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-879628-27-4.
  4. ^ Data, US Climate. "Climate Quincy – Washington and Weather averages Quincy". Retrieved 2016-02-04.