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Washington Wine AVAs

Washington State is a rich territory for growing wine grapes. The state now contains 20 American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs.


Year: 2012

Total Acres: 162,762

Planted Acres: 1,596

Annual Rainfall: 6

Main Varieties: Riesling, Chardonnay

Named after a series of 35 lakes that dot the area, the Ancient Lakes more northerly location contributes to large diurnal swings and cooler fall temperatures that help lock in acidity. The area is one of the few appellations in Washington dominated by white varieties, specifically Riesling.


Year: 2020

Total Acres: 815

Planted Acres: 110

Annual Rainfall: 6-8

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah

Candy Mountain is by far Washington’s smallest appellation and is also one of the state’s warmest. Given its heat, Candy Mountain is predominantly planted to red wine grape varieties. The appellation is all located on the mountain’s southern aspect, with slopes ranging from 5 to 20 degrees.


Year: 2004

Total Acres: 186,610 (66,604 in WA)

Planted Acres: 381 (in WA)

Annual Rainfall: 10-36

Main Varieties: Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris

The Columbia Gorge is the state’s westernmost appellation east of the Cascade Mountains. A shared appellation with Oregon, the 40 mile long Columbia Gorge is notable for its diversity, with very dry regions to the east as well as areas to the west that receive so much rain they are able to dry farm – an extreme rarity in eastern Washington.


Year: 1984

Total Acres: 11,308,636 (8,748,949 in WA)

Planted Acres: 59,234 (in WA)

Annual Rainfall: 6-8

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Syrah

Encompassing more than a quarter of the land mass of the state, Columbia Valley is by far Washington’s largest growing region. Almost all of Washington’s other growing regions are sub-appellations of the Columbia Valley, and it is home to over 99% of all Washington wine grape acreage.


Year: 2021

Total Acres: 8,129 

Planted Acres: 1,800

Annual Rainfall: 6-8

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

Goose Gap’s main distinguishing feature is the orientation of Goose Mountain’s ridge crest, which runs east-west. All other nearby mountains run northwest to southeast. The appellation’s southern aspects are generally considered too steep to plant. Most planted acreage is therefore on north-northeast slopes. 


Year: 2005

Total Acres: 576,603

Planted Acres: 17,082

Annual Rainfall: 9

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Merlot, Chardonnay

The Horse Heaven Hills is home to over one quarter of WA’s planted acreage. The area is among Washington’s warmer growing regions, making it an ideal place for Cabernet Sauvignon which makes up a large percentage of plantings. Persistent winds through the area help minimize disease pressure and also reduce the risk of frosts and freezes.


Year: 2011

Total Acres: 24,114

Planted Acres: 301

Annual Rainfall: 12

Main Varieties: Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

This AVA wraps around the tourist-popular Lake Chelan. The lake has a moderating effect on summer and winter temperatures, which along with its more northern location allow it to excel at cooler climate grapes. The appellation also has a granitic bedrock, compared to the basalt bedrock of the rest of the Columbia Valley.


Year: 2016

Total Acres: 306,650 (85,238 in WA)

Planted Acres: 9 (in WA)

Annual Rainfall: 16

Main Varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot

Straddling the Washington-Idaho border, the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA is bisected by the Snake River and Clearwater River. The appellation is located in a region known as a “banana belt” due to its higher temperatures relative to surrounding regions. 72% of the total acreage is in Idaho. 28% is in Washington. 


Year: 2011

Total Acres: 13,165

Planted Acres: 45

Annual Rainfall: 10-13

Main Varieties: Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc

Naches Heights is a young growing region, with its first vinifera plantings in 2002. The AVA sits on a volcanic plateau, offering a unique soil profile compared to the surrounding area. All of the vines planted in the appellation are biodynamic or organically farmed.



Year: 1995

Total Acres: 2,918,765

Planted Acres: 121

Annual Rainfall: 15-60

Main Varieties: Madeleine, Angevine, Siegerrebe, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris

Washington’s only appellation located west of the Cascade crest, Puget Sound is unique for Washington in that it has a maritime climate, as opposed to the continental climate of the Columbia Valley. The appellation enjoys long, mild and dry summers, but gets enough rainfall to grow grapes without irrigation, unlike most growing regions east of the crest.


Year: 2006

Total Acres: 74,380

Planted Acres: 1,832

Annual Rainfall: 6-12

Main Varieties: Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah

The Rattlesnake Hills are an anticline of the Yakima Fold Belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in the Columbia Basin. The appellation itself lies on the south slope of the Rattlesnake Hills and includes the highest point in the Yakima Valley AVA, Rattlesnake Mountain. 


Year: 2001

Total Acres: 4,538

Planted Acres: 2,382

Annual Rainfall: 5

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot, Syrah

Red Mountain is typically Washington’s warmest appellation, with the region’s south-facing slope soaking up the summer heat. Given its warmth, Red Mountain is dedicated almost exclusively to red wine grapes, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.


Year: 2022

Total Acres: 32,333

Planted Acres: 117

Annual Rainfall: 12

Main Varieties: 

Rocky Reach is located south of Lake Chelan. The appellation straddles the Columbia River and is contained within the Columbia Valley. In terms of its geology, Rocky Reach is unique from almost all other appellations in the Columbia Valley in that it has crystalline basement bedrock, a feature it shares with only Lake Chelan.


Year: 2020

Total Acres: 156,389

Planted Acres: 1,900

Annual Rainfall: 6-8

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah

The Royal Slope is located just south of the Ancient Lakes, with much of the appellation comprised of a south-facing slope. Elevations range from 610 feet above sea level in the southeast corner to 1,756 feet at the top of the Frenchmen Hills ridge, allowing a wide range of varieties and styles to excel.


Year: 2009

Total Acres: 4,005

Planted Acres: 859

Annual Rainfall: 7

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay

Like a number of other Washington growing regions, Snipes Mountain is an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, elevated from its surroundings. It contains unique soils from an ancestral riverbed of the Columbia River. With vineyards first planted in the area in 1914, the appellation is home to some of the state’s oldest grapevines.


Year: 2021

Total Acres: 16,870

Planted Acres: 1,500

Annual Rainfall: 8-9

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon

In The Burn, heat accumulation accumulates over a slightly longer season, extending hang time and alleviating spring and fall freeze pressures. There is slightly more precipitation on average than other regions throughout the Columbia Valley, and notable impacts from the persistent winds coming up the Gorge.


Year: 2006

Total Acres: 80,490

Planted Acres: 9,277

Annual Rainfall: 6

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Merlot

The Wahluke Slope is a large alluvial fan that stretches down to the Columbia River. It is a warm, dry appellation, known for its gentle grade and consistency of aspect. This allows for even ripening of the predominantly red grape varieties planted there.


Year: 1984

Total Acres: 319,427 (220,799 in WA)

Planted Acres: 2,933 (in WA)

Annual Rainfall: 9-22

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (36%), Syrah, Merlot

Walla Walla Valley has the highest concentration of wineries in the state and is also home  to some of Washington’s oldest wineries. Due to the influence of the Blue Mountains, there is significant variability in rainfall. Walla Walla Valley is a shared appellation with Oregon. Red varieties are predominant in the area.


Year: 2021

Total Acres: 93,738

Planted Acres: 1,127

Annual Rainfall: 6-8

Main Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc

The AVA encompasses two plateaus that rise above the surrounding plains of the Pasco Basin an average of 200 feet. The added elevation protects the vines from the cold air on the valley floor and extends the growing season. Nearly one out of every 10 Washington wineries source fruit from the AVA. 


Year: 1983

Total Acres: 708,710

Planted Acres: 18,580

Annual Rainfall: 8

Main Varieties: Chardonnay (25%), Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah

Yakima Valley is Washington’s oldest AVA and is home to over one quarter of the state’s grapevine acreage. It is a diverse growing region, with a mixture of areas with cooler and warmer climates, allowing for a wide assortment of varieties and styles. It is one of the few areas of Washington where more white grapevines are planted than red.

Credit to

Washington AVAs

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