Washington State Wine Seminar

Washington State wine history began in 1825 when the first grapes arrived to Fort  Vancouver by the Hudson Bay Co. one of the oldest commercial corporations in the US, fur trade

By 1860’s grapes and hybrids were harvested all the way to Walla Walla

On the western side grapes were being grown on Stretch Island in Puget Sound using Island Belle grapes

Eastern Washington was making field blends with Zinfandel, Muscat and
Alicanté Bouschet.  At this point Washington State wine was sweet and simple

Italian, French & German immigrants began harvesting in 1910’s.

Irrigation from the Cascade mountains allowed settlers to venture east.

1910 the first annual Columbia River Valley Grape Carnival

1920 PROHIBITION…wine production came to a halt

1934 The Washington State Liquor act was passed.  Allowing only wine and beer to be served by the glass in a restaurant or tavern.  Nothing over 17% Alcohol.
This led to wineries making sweet high alcoholic wines to suit the public’s
need for alcohol

Out of state wines were taxed heavily and allowed wineries to sell direct to retail shops

1937 42 wineries were licensed, mostly making fruit wines not grape

By 1938 the 1st Northwest winery was founded in Puget Sound and Washington was home to about 42 other wineries

Slowly laws governing alcohol levels became more lenient, fortified wines began to replace fruity 17% wines

1950’s Associated Vintners…a small group of wine makers from Washington State University with intentions of making dry wines. The beginning of Washington State wine.

1962 they buy a vineyard, Harrison Hill in the Yakima Valley and begin experimenting with varieties

Late 1960’s Leon Adam’s (author of Wines of America) goes to the Yakima Valley and tries a rose of Grenache

He meets with Victor Allison (manager for American Wine Growers) and suggests a good California winemaker can make a great wine in Washington.

Allison brings André Tchelistcheff to Washington and makes a Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Semillon

1969 California Wine Bill passed…Washington State wine in California

1970’s Associated vintner and AWG’s Chateau Ste. Michelle are making single varieties.

US Tobacco buys Ste. Michelle and expands into eastern Washington

1980’s Associated vintner becomes Columbia Winery

An increase of family owned wineries

Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Patterson Winery becomes Columbia Crest and invests $25 million a 50% increase in vineyards.

National acclaim from the boutique wineries

The first AVA’s were named: Yakima Valley, Walla Walla and Columbia Valley

German Company, F.W. Langguth family invests in Riesling in the desert, today known as Wahluke Slope

The Washington State Wine Commission & Washington Wine Institute are founded to promote growth

1988 Chateau Ste. Michelle is named “Best American Winery” by Wine Country magazine

1989 5 wineries make the Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 list”

By 1989 number of wineries tripled

1991 60 minutes aired “French Paradox” wine had health benefits and should be drunk with a meal.

Red wine was good to drink, contrary to people’s belief

Merlot was the new wine for the public

In 1991 the Washington State Wine Commission held a conference and chose Merlot as it’s focus

Cabernet Sauvignon belonged to California, Merlot was French and easy to pronounce

Columbia Crest eventually became the countries leading producer of Merlot.

Boutique Merlot began costing $$$$

Syrah from Red Willow began to get recognition

In 1996 another freeze destroyed Merlot, however Syrah survived

More wine makers began planting Syrah

In the 2000’s Washington State wine was taken more seriously and pushed for a growth in the industry.  The plan was to promote more grape-growing to promote economic growth

More AVA’s were founded In 2001 there were 155 wineries by 2009 there were 655.

Woodenville promotes wine to Seattle and outside visitors.  Today many Eastern Washington wineries have tasting rooms in Woodenville.

Today second largest wine-producing state in the US behind California
750 wineries, 43,000 acres, 12 AVA’s and 12 million cases produced

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