Walla Walla Valley AVA
The south eastern region of the Sagebrush Desert is home to Washington state’s Walla Walla Valley AVA. The name “Walla Walla” is a Native American name meaning “place of many waters”, which is honored by the multitude of natural rivers and aquifers making their way down from the Blue Mountains nearby. (Yes, Walla Walla includes mountains, a valley, and a desert!) While this area has been a hub for all types of agriculture for over a century, it was designated as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 1984. Interestingly enough, 43% of this Pacific North Western AVA also crosses the border into Oregon.
Over 2,000 acres of the Walla Walla Valley are planted under vine which are dedicated to more than 100 wineries in this small region. Although the climate is temperate most of the year, the area holds a high number of varying weather conditions, terroir and elevations that impact the growing grapes. Rainfall can average nearly 22 inches in the East yet only about 7 inches typically reach the West. However, due to the incredibly unique terroir, the vines thrive. The terroir here is distinctive because of the vast range of sediment layers, soils and rock that provide the grapes with a plethora of minerals, adding great depth to the finished wines. The elevation also escalates from about 400 feet above sea level in desert regions to 2,000 feet closer to the mountains. These factors combined are what make Walla Walla Valley a strong producer of world-class wines.
The most prevalent grape grown here is Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Syrah following closely behind. Other varietals include Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Viognier, and small amounts of Barbera, Cinsaut, Malbec, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc to name a few.
We have featured Rôtie Cellars from Walla Walla, Washington in our upper level Platinum Wine of the Month Club and there will surely be more to come. The wines are top notch and the atmosphere of the small town definitely makes this AVA one to experience. After all, residents joke that it’s “the town so nice they named it twice!”