Washington Nears 20 AVAs With Recent Announcements

Earlier this year, the state of Washington was awarded two additional AVAs, or American Vinicultural Areas. White Bluffs and The Burn of Columbia Valley are now officially defined as designated wine grape-growing regions. To qualify for this designation, a region must be unique and distinguishable by features like climate, soil, elevation and physical features to qualify as an AVA.

Washington State Wine Commission President Steve Warner said White Bluffs, located north of the Tri-Cities, was selected for its added elevation, which helps protect the vines from the cold air on the valley floor and extends the growing season.

“Also what’s unique is that there’s no basalt bedrock within reach of the vine roots, which is pretty different than a lot of the other AVAs across the Columbia Valley.”

The Burn of the Columbia Valley, which sits west of the Tri-Cities, receives an average annual precipitation that is greater than the rest of the broader Columbia Valley, and the soil is also better at holding moisture.

“It really has a slower heat accumulation through the growing period, during the peak periods of the growing season. That really means that the fruit gets extended hang time.”

Warner added that the naming of the two new AVAs is another example of how the wine industry continues to grow and evolve in Washington. In 1983, when the state’s first AVA was announced, there were roughly 40 wineries across Washington. Today, the state has 18 AVAs and over 1,000 wineries.

Three more potential AVAs in Washington are under review: Goose Gap, Rocky Reach and Wanapum Village.​

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