August 30, 2018

Washington State

Despite most American’s perception of Washington as the rainy Pacific Northwest (thanks, Seattle), the eastern half of the state is hot and dry. The Cascade Mountains block most of the state’s wet weather on the west coast from moving inland. These conditions support grape production, allowing Washington to compete with California as a prolific producer of Cabernet. What else it has: high-scoring wines for great prices.

Within Washington, there’s a lot of interesting variation worth understanding. Differences in wines due to climate, soil and other features of the landscape (terroir) are delineated by American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs.

The prime Cabernet regions are Walla Walla, Red Mountain in the Yakima Valley, and Horse Heaven Hills and the Wahluke Slope in Columbia Valley. These regions are warm with cool nights, contributing to the ripe, bright character of the fruit and plush tannins, balanced by lovely natural acidity on the finish. While Washington produces superb examples of fine wine, it’s also a great state for value. So, whether you’re in the $15 bracket or $50, there’s a wine for your table.

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