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Walla Walla Valley AVA

Coordinates: 46°10′22″N 118°12′10″W / 46.1727353°N 118.2026651°W / 46.1727353; -118.2026651
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Walla Walla Valley
Wine region
TypeAmerican Viticultural Area
Year established1984[1]
2001 Amended[2]
Years of wine industry184[3]
CountryUnited States
Part ofWashington, Oregon, Columbia Valley AVA
Sub-regionsThe Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA
Growing season190 to 220 days[1]
Climate regionContinental/Mediterranean
Precipitation (annual average)10 to 20 inches (254–508 mm)
Avg: 12.5 inches (317.5 mm)[1]
Soil conditionsLoess soil, unstratified calcareous silt[1]
Total area178,560 acres (279 sq mi)[1]
Amended 3,500 acres (5 sq mi)[2]
Size of planted vineyards1,200 acres (486 ha)[4]
Grapes producedBarbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Cinsault, Counoise, Dolcetto, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Pinot noir, Sangiovese, Semillon, Syrah, Viognier[4]
No. of wineries20[2]
Wine producedVarietal, Dessert wine, Sparkling wine, Meritage
CommentsThe AVA (located within the black outline in the blue box) extends south into Northern Oregon

Walla Walla Valley is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) 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. In addition to grapes, the area produces 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.[3] Walla Walla hosts about 140 wineries.[5] The area was recognized on March 7, 1984 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Treasury after reviewing the petition submitted by Mr. Richard L Small, President of the Walla Walla Valley Winegrowers Association, for the establishment of a viticultural area in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, east of Lake Wallula, to be known as "Walls Walls Valley." At the time, Walla Walla Valley viticultural area was approximately 178,560 acres (279 sq mi) with two bonded wineries and about 60 acres (24 ha) from several vineyards.[1]


The area is named after the Walla Walla River which flows through the valley into Walla Walla County, Washington. The Walla Walla Valley has been known as such since it was settled in the 1850's, even prior to the creation of the States of Oregon and Washington.[1]

Geography and climate[edit]

The soils of the Walla Walla Valley consist largely of wind-deposited loess, which provides good drainage for vines. The area receives minimal rainfall and thus relies on irrigation. 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 comes down from the Blue Mountains and is trapped 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).[6] Most of the region is in hardiness zone 7a.

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.[7]


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

Walla Walla Valley was 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.[3] In the late 1850s, a settler named A.B. Roberts established the first nursery in Walla Walla, importing grape vines from Champoeg, Oregon.[6] 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.[3] 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 market 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.[6] 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.[3]

Vineyard along the North Fork Walla Walla River, Umatilla County, Oregon

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.[3]


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:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Establishment of the Walla Walla Valley Viticultural Area" (27 CFR Part 9 [T.D. ATF-165; Re: Notice No. 4711] Final Rule). Federal Register. 49 (25). Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Treasury: 4374–4376. February 6, 1984. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 18, 2021.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b c "Realignment of the Boundary of the Walla Walla Valley Viticultural Area and the Eastern Boundary of the Columbia Valley Viticultural Area (99R–141P)" (27 CFR Part 9 [T.D. ATF–441; RE: Notice No. 898] RIN: 1512–AA07 Final Rule). Federal Register. 66 (38). Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), Treasury: 11540–11542. February 26, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 18, 2023.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Parker, Tom (September 1, 2002). Discovering Washington Wines: An Introduction to One of the Most Exciting Premium Wine Regions. Seattle, Wash: Raconteurs Press. pp. 20-21, 39-44, 92. ISBN 0-9719258-5-2.
  4. ^ a b "Walla Walla Valley (AVA): Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  5. ^ "Walla Walla Wineries". GoTasteWine.com. May 26, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Irvine, Ronald; Clore, Walter J. (August 1, 1997). The Wine Project: Washington State's Winemaking History. Sketch Publications. pp. 59–63. ISBN 0-9650834-9-7.
  7. ^ Steiman, Harvey (December 31, 2006). "Cooler is better for Oregon Pinot". Wine Spectator.

External links[edit]

46°10′22″N 118°12′10″W / 46.1727353°N 118.2026651°W / 46.1727353; -118.2026651