Washington Wines

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Q&A


By Ilona Kauremszky


Q: On our next road trip out west, we'll be spending a week exploring Washington. What about the wines out there? Are there wine routes we can take?

A: Split by the Cascade Mountain range, Washington is comprised of two major climate zones: the rainy west and the drier east. The east lies on the same latitude as some of France's great vineyards. Over 200 wineries have sprouted up which are divided into five wine regions.

The largest wine and grape-producing region is in the Columbia Valley. The highest concentration of wineries rests along I-82 in the Yakima Valley. Both regions produce red wines.

Further southeast, Walla Walla is perched on the edge of the Palouse Hills. Derived from the native term "swift running small stream," Walla Walla is home to the "Sweet Onion" but has recently been transforming its farmland into vine land.

With more than 40 wineries and more than 1,000 vineyard acres, Walla Walla specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah as well as white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Pinot Gris.

Tourists love to explor the Columbia River where a ring of stones shaped as Stonehenge sits as a World War I memorial. This homage to fallen soldiers is a legacy from Sam Hill, a local millionaire and founder of the Maryhill Museum of Art, a castle-like chateau considered to be the most isolated major museum in the United States.

For suggestions on the cellae vinaria, log onto the Columbia Cascade Winery Association (www.columbiacascadewines.com). It provides sublinks to "Tours," "Wines," and "Wineries."

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