Northwest Wine Industry Matures With Appellation Milestones

By Anna King

The Northwest wine industry, along with region’s grape vines, is getting older. Right now, many of the distinct wine grape growing regions are celebrating 30 years since the federal government recognized them as distinct growing areas -- also known as “appellations.” Next up with a birthday is Walla Walla.

Appelations in Walla Walla. Photo provided by Anna King.Darcey Small says back when her husband Rick started planting vines in long-time wheat ground, people thought he was nuts. Those vines are the roots of Woodward Canyon which is now one of the oldest wineries in the Walla Walla Valley. In March, the Walla Walla appellation will be celebrating their 30 year anniversary with an expert panel and tasting event. Darcey Small says the valley’s industry has now grown to include more than 100 wineries.

Darcey Small: “We’re getting an ever smaller piece of an ever enlarging pie. There is a lot more attention on Walla Walla, there are certainly a lot more people coming to Walla Walla and specifically for wine. But they are spread out amongst now all those wineries.”

Others hitting the 30-year mark lately are: the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley in Washington.

In Idaho, the wine industry is much younger. The earliest federal appellation was the Snake River Valley in 2007. Idaho now has 50 wineries.

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