Washington Wine Travel Guide

Washington is commonly known for being home to the first Starbucks, but coffee isn’t the only beverage the state is popular for. Washington is a premium wine producing region. Although Washington State has a relatively young wine industry, it is the nation’s second largest wine producer and ranks among the world’s top wine regions. Washington wines can be found in all 50 states and in more than 40 countries around the globe.

Winemakers from Italy to Australia, and everywhere in between have established themselves in Washington. They have crafted unique wines that reflect the distinct characteristics of the region, and are consistently receiving praise from regional, national and international critics for their high quality hand-crafted wines. Washington receives a higher percentage of high scores from the top wine publications than other leading wine regions.

Short History of Washington Wine

Washington’s wine history dates all the way back to 1825 when the Hudson’s Bay Company planted the first grapes at Fort Vancouver. In 1854, hybrid varieties had already arrived on scene in the Puget Sound region, and by 1860 wine grapes were planted in Walla Walla Valley. French, German and Italian immigrants established early planting, and by 1910 wine grapes were plentiful in many areas of the state.

Runoff from the melting snowcaps of the Cascade Mountains allowed for large-scale irrigation that rapidly fueled the expansion of the wine grape acreage in the early part of the 20th century. The first annual Columbia River Valley Grape Carnival in Kennewick was held in 1910.

The onset of Prohibition in 1920 deterred wine production in Washington. However, as luck would have it, this inspired an interest in home winemaking and by the end of Prohibition, the first winery was established on Puget Sound’s Stretch Island. The industry continued to mature and there were 42 wineries by 1938. The first commercial-scale plantings began in the 1960s.

Washington Wineries and Wine Trails

Washington is the second largest producer of premium wine in the U.S. More than 50,000 acres are planted to vinifera grapes (common grape vine), and 40 percent of those vines have been planted in the last 10 years. Nearly 70 different wine grape varieties are produced in Washington with a ratio of 42 percent white and 58 percent red wine.

More than 900 wineries and 350 vineyards can be found across the state. Currently, there are 14 AVA (American Viticultural Areas) recognized in Washington.

Where to Sip

  • 5 Award-Winning Wineries in Washington to Sip Your Way Through
  • àMaurice – Owned and run by the Schafer Family, situated on 20 perfectly sloped acres in the Blue Mountain foothills of Walla Walla, Washington. They create balanced wines that are critically acclaimed for sharing at the table.
  • Purple Café and Wine Bar – Wine bar with upscale small plates in a lofty modern space with a central wine tower & staircase. Purple has three locations one in Seattle, Bellevue and Woodinville. Check out their full wine list.
  • Eternal Wines – Eternal Wines is making small lots of terrior driven Washington wines. Their focus is on single vineyard Rhone varietals.

Where to Stay in Washington Wine Country

Coming soon!

Washington Wine Festivals and Events (Not to Miss)

Taste Washington
March 22 – 25, 2018, Seattle, WA
Four days chock-full of some of the best wine and food Washington State has to offer are at the Taste Washington. Sip exclusive pours from world-class vintners, eat gourmet bites from some of the nation’s most-talented chefs and partake in private food and farm tours – all for the pleasure of your taste buds.

Interviews with winemakers shaping Washington's wine region.

Beyond the Vines: Things to see and do besides sipping wine…

More Washington Wine Resources