Naches Heights AVA (Established 2011)
The area's elevation ranges from 1,200 to 2,000 feet in a slow ramp to the west, which allows it to drain off excessively cold air that can cause freeze damage. It sees as many days of sun as anywhere in Washington's grape growing regions, ensuring the grapes will ripen well. The height bestows cool nights upon the grapes, imbuing them with food friendly acidity to balance the ripeness. The soil combines windblown loam and andesite pulverized by millennia of freezing and thawing. In comparison, only a tiny portion of one California AVA reports andesite in its soil. Though related to the basalt common throughout the Columbia Valley, andesite is composed of different minerals. Among those is silica, which is prized by biodynamic farmers.
Yakima Valley AVA (Established 1983)
Established in 1983, Yakima Valley is Washington’s oldest appellation. It lies within the Columbia Valley and includes 10,000 acres of wine grapes, roughly one-third the state’s total. Yakima Valley’s most widely planted variety is Chardonnay, followed by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Riesling and Syrah also represent significant acreage.
Rattlesnake Hills AVA (Established 2006)
One of Washington’s more recently established AVAs, Rattlesnake Hills is located within both the Yakima and Columbia Valley appellations and boasts ridgetop vineyards over 3,000 feet in elevation that benefit from excellent water and air drainage. With 1,500 vine acres and 17 wineries, the region specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling.
Snipes Mountain AVA (Established 2009)
Established in 2009, Snipes Mountain is Washington State’s 10th American Viticultural Area. The area rises from the floor of the Yakima Valley to form the State’s second-smallest appellation at a mere 4,140 acres. Snipes Mountain (the actual mountain) and adjacent Harrison Hill are home to unique climatic and geologic features that impart distinct characteristics on the area’s wine grapes. These characteristics reveal themselves in different forms across different varietals, from crisp Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs to incredibly complex Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Syrah. More than 35 different varietals are grown on Snipes Mountain and more than 20 wineries purchase grapes from the vineyards within this AVA.
Red Mountain AVA (Established 2001)
A warm sub-region of the Yakima Valley, located at its easternmost tip at a sharp bend of the Yakima River, Red Mountain encompasses approximately 4,000 acres with about 700 currently planted primarily to red varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese.
Horse Heaven Hills AVA (Established 2005)
Located in Southeast Washington, the total area of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is 570,000 acres (230,679 hectares) of which about 10,130 acres (4,099 hectares) are planted to grapes, representing 25% of Washington's total grape production. The AVA was established in 2005 but growers have raised grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills region since 1972. Elevations range from 1,800 feet at the area's northern boundary to 300 feet at its southern boundary. The AVA is the proud source of the 1st, 2nd & 3rd "100 point" wines in the State of Washington.
*AVA information courtesy of Washington Wine Commission, Snipes Mountain AVA and Phil Kline.