Washington State wineries and wines are becoming more and more popular. Many of the Washington wineries are small production facilities that focus on premium quality wines.
You will find a number of amazing reds from these wineries specifically those that are in or source their grapes from the Columbia Valley and vineyards. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are the top three red wines grown in the state of Washington.
Although there are a number of amazing Washington wines, here are some recommendations to help get you started. I have also included information on their tasting rooms if they are open to the public.
The Columbia Valley is the largest region and has more than 300 Washington State wineries. My first recommendation is Columbia Crest. This winery is located in Horse Heaven Hills and is very popular with enthusiasts.
Columbia Crest released its first wine in 1984. They now have a number of wines that they bottle under a few different labels including Columbia Crest Reserve, Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Crest Grand Estates and Two Vines.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are their top red wines. They also specialize in red blends.
Wine Spectator Magazine rated Columbia Crest's 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon as the #1 wine in 2009. It was the first of the Washington State wineries to receive this award.
Tasting room hours at Columbia Crest are from 10 am to 4:30 pm daily. They also offer guided tours on the weekends.
Another one of the award winning Washington State wineries in Columbia Valley is Kiona Vineyards. This winery is located in the small Red Mountain region.
Kiona planted their first vines in 1975 and their first harvest was in 1978. After the success of their first harvest, they produced their first commercial wines under the Kiona Vineyards name in 1980.
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese are just a few of the types of red wines produced at this winery. They also focus on their Estate Lemberger, Zinfandel and a Cabernet/Merlot red blend.
Kiona is open for public tastings. Visit them at their Red Mountain winery location in Benton City, WA. The tasting room has beautiful panoramic views of their estate vineyards and the Yakima Valley. The tasting room is open from noon to 5pm every day.
My next recommendation is Woodward Canyon in Walla Walla Valley. This is one of the Washington State wineries that started producing wine in the early 1980s.
Woodward Canyon produces under two labels. Their original label has the Woodward Canyon name on it and includes reds such as 'Old Vine' Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barbera and a few blends.
Their newer label is Nelms Road. They started this label is 1998 and it includes a more affordable selection of wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are two popular Nelms Road red wines.
Try Woodward Canyon wines at their winery in Walla Walla. Their tasting room is located in Lowden in a 1870s restored farmhouse. It is open daily from 10 am to 5pm.
The Puget Sound producers are located in and around Seattle. Several of these source their grapes from Washington State wineries in other regions.
One of the most popular in this region is Quilceda Creek Vintners. This winery focuses only on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Founded in 1978, this winery recently received a 100-point rating from Wine Advocate magazine. This is its fourth 100-point rating in the last six years.
Recently, the White House served the 2005 Columbia Valley Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon at a formal dinner.
The oldest of the Washington State wineries is my next recommendation, Chateau Ste. Michelle. Not only is it the oldest, but it is also one of the most highly regarded producers in the state.
The history for this winery started in 1912 with the purchase of the current estate. It changed names a few times. Finally, in 1967, they renamed the Pommerelle Wine Company to Ste. Michelle Vintners.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the only premium wineries in the world to have two different facilities for production. One is set aside for reds and one is for white wine. Since there are different techniques for producing these two types, the winery wanted to have dedicated facilities for each.
Chateau Ste. Michelle has a few collections for their different types. Ethos Reserve, Artist Series, Single Vineyards, Indian Wells, Columbia Valley, and Eroica are the names you will find on the labels of their wine collections. In addition, they have Limited Release wines that include some different reds such as Malbec, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Tasting is available at their historic chateau on their property near Seattle. The tasting room is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Guides tours are also available from 10:30 am to 4:30pm.
Another one of the popular Washington State wineries is Andrew Will. This winery is also located in Puget Sound.
All of the Andrew Will vineyards are located in Columbia Valley. Red Mountain vineyards, Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley are their three vineyards and they label their wines by vineyard.
Andrew Will started in 1989. They focus on small quantity, high quality wines. They are famous for their amazing Merlot wines.
The winery has a number of blends and their most popular is a Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend. They also have a 100% Sangiovese wine that is not very common in this region.
There are around 20 Washington State wineries in the Columbia Gorge. The Columbia River splits this region in half between Washington and Oregon.
My top winery in this region is Syncline Wine Cellars. This winery mostly focuses on Rhone varietals.
A Pinot Noir from vines planted in 1972 was their first release. The next year, they produced a Syrah and Grenache. They expanded and now produce other types of reds including Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise and Carignan.
Syncline Wine Cellars keeps production low to allow for the highest quality of wine possible. Visit them in their tasting room February 1 to November 28, Thursday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. The tasting room is also open a handful of days in December and I'd recommend calling ahead to confirm their hours before visiting at that time.
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