While Washington State’s first wine grapes were planted in 1825, the first commercial plantings did not begin until the 1960’s and major production not until the 1970s. Forty years later, Washington is the second largest premium wine producer in the United States behind California.
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Wine growing regions around Washington State
Washington State has several different wine growing areas or American Viticultural Areas (AVA), as defined by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. As of June 3, 2022, Established AVAs in Washington State include:
Puget Sound AVA is the only AVA in western Washington (west of the Cascade Mountains). Only 1% of the state’s wine grapes are grown here, as the marine climate is not well-suited to growing grapes. However, many of the wineries in western Washington source their grapes in the Columbia Valley. Likewise, many of the vintners in eastern Washington have tasting rooms in the Puget Sound region.
The remaining Washington State AVA are located in Eastern Washington, either in Columbia Valley or Yakima Valley:
- Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
- Candy Mountain
- Goose Gap
- 9Horse Heaven Hills
- Lake Chelan
- Naches Heights
- Rattlesnake Hills
- Red Mountain
- Rocky Reach
- Royal Slope
- Snipes Mountain
- The Burn of Columbia Valley
- Wahluke Slope
- White Bluffs
- Yakima Valley
Touring the wine regions of Central and Eastern Washington
Virtually all Washington State wines are produced from grapes grown in central and eastern Washington where the climate and soil provide ideal growing conditions. You can taste wines at hundreds of wineries dotted along the rolling hills of Washington wine growing country. In August, during Washington Wine month, you can explore eight wine-touring regions, 1,000+ wineries, and 20 AVAs. Right now, we’re gearing up to celebrate March 2022 Taste Washington Wine Month, and can’t wait to see you discover your next favorite Washington wine. More info: Wine-Touring Regions. Listed below are some of our favorite wine tasting areas, in order by distance from Seattle. Or scroll down for our Wine Tasting Events calendar.
Popular wine touring locations in Central and Eastern Washington
Leavenworth (120 mi. E of Seattle) features more than 20 wineries at tasting rooms around Front Street, featuring wines from Leavenworth as well as around Washington State.
Yakima Valley (150-235 mi. SE of Seattle) has over 120 wineries and several AVAs, including Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake Hills, Red mountain, strewn along a drive from the town of Naches to Benton City (map).
Walla Walla Valley (245-275 mi. SE of Seattle) has over 140 wineries along U.S. highway 12 in and around the downtown area.
Get free shipping on Alaska Airlines Taste and Tote program if you are a Mileage Plan member. The program allows one case of wine to travel free when travelling on Alaska Airlines out of the Walla Walla, Tri-Cities/Pasco, or Yakima Airports.
More resources for exploring Washington State Wine
Wines Northwest is a comprehensive guide to Pacific Northwest Wines, including Washington State, as well as Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.
DiscoverWashingtonWine.com provides comprehensive information about Washington State wine regions.
Wine Country Washington provides information about the wine growing region of Eastern Washington from Yakima to Walla, including tours, maps, events, lodging, and restaurants.
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Wine, beer, and spirits events
The following festival, tastings, and related events throughout Washington State feature wine, beer, and spirits. As always, we focus on events that are free or have an admission price of $15 or less. There may bea few events with higher ticket prices that we feel might be worth a splurge.