Washington wine on the move
Blog: Winemaker's Journal
January 25, 2011
This just in: Washington's wine industry is growing.
We knew that. But the state industry wants us to know just how fast and how famous our wines have become in recent years.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board has now issued more than 700 liquor licenses to new wineries, nearly doubling the number of wineries in the state just five years ago, according to Jan. 25 press release from the Washington State Wine Commission.
Go back 40 years and there were a few forward-looking vintners planting grapes. Today, Washington is the second leading wine producing state in the nation. A distant second behind California.
The state now has 40,000 acres of wine grapes, reflecting an increase of 2,000 acres a year over the past five years.
The 160,000-ton 2010 wine grape crop — a short one for most vineyards because of weather — was still 3 percent more than 2009 and 33 percent more than 2006.
Perhaps more important than growth is growing acceptance and acclaim. "Wine Spectator" magazine named a Columbia Crest cabernet sauvignon as its top wine for 2009. There were six Washington wines on the magazine's 2010 list of the world's top 100 wines.
Two Washington wines — a 2008 Long Shadows Botrytis Riesling and a 2005 Quilceda Creek cabernet sauvignon — were served at a Whitehouse state dinner last week when Pres. Obama hosted China Pres. Hu Jintau. Quilceda Creek's cabernets have already won three unheard-of 100 point ratings in recent years from "Wine Advocate"s Robert Parker.
"What makes Washington wines remarkable? As is the case everywhere, it begins with the terroir — the land and the climate," wrote Harvey Steiman in "Wine Spectator"s December cover feature on Washington wines.
"We're still growing at a phenomenal rate," said Robin Pollard, the wine commission's executive director, "and awareness of Washington State as a premium wine region have never been higher."