Wahluke Slope
The Wahluke Slope, lying to the east of Yakima in south-central Washington, is a sub-region of the Columbia Valley that was recognized officially in 2006. It is one of the warmest wine-growing regions in the state, and also one of its most geologically homogeneous. The Columbia River drifts lazily through a gap in the Saddle Mountains here and forms the region's southern and western boundaries. Some 5,200 acres are planted on what amounts to a single, giant alluvial benchland, created by successive floods.

Red grapes dominate here, led by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The region has only seen significant commercial development for 15 years, but already the area accounts for fully 20% of Washington's wine harvest. Still, only a fraction of potential vineyard land has been planted, and the Wahluke Slope has the potential for becoming the engine room for a significant increase in the state's volume of high quality red wines.

The climate is arid and particularly windy, making for small, concentrated grapes. This gives the region's wines their signature varietal intensity. While only two wineries, Fox Estate and Ginkgo Forest, are located within the AVA, several others have crush facilities here and Wahluke Slope grapes are sourced by wineries around the state. Perhaps most prominent among the plantings is the large Indian Wells Vineyard, which has become a flagship for Chateau Ste. Michelle. (Wine/Appellations)