Yakima Valley
The Yakima Valley AVA was the first region to be officially recognized as an AVA in the Pacific Northwest, back in 1983. Though it is technically a sub-region of the broader Columbia Valley AVA, it actually precedes the latter, which was officially recognized a year later. This is the largest sub-region in Washington, located in the south-central portion of the state, surrounding the city of Yakima.

Bitter cold winters aside, the Yakima Valley is the winery capital of Washington State with over 60 wineries and 13,000 acres under vine. Together these account for one-third of the state's wine production. The region was first planted in 1869 by Charles Schanno, a French winemaker from Alsace. Many of the state’s original modern wineries chose this desert-like plateau as a setting for the vineyards. Why? Irrigation canals, remnants of turn-of-the-century farming projects, provide plenty of water for the thirsty vines.

The Yakima Valley stretches for nearly a hundred miles and has a diversity of micro-climates. Recent years have seen the creation of several sub-appellations including Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain, and Rattlesnake Hills. The appellation contains the state's oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines, which were planted in the Otis Vineyard in 1957 and the Harrison Hill vineyard in 1963.

The region's climate is arid and continental with a very high diurnal range. This produces wines with excellent varietal intensity. Cooler parts of the valley are known for Riesling and Chardonnay and the region provides half of the state's output for these varietals. Reds, however, play a significant part and the region produces many of Washington's most coveted, clasically-styled Cabernets, Merlots, and Syrahs. (Wine/Appellations)