Ever stop to think that the beautiful Washington wine that you drink not only comes from the essential wine maker, but also from the land? Land which was sculpted out by the great Missoula glacial flood that took place about 15,000 years ago. Eastern Washington is a complete riverbed of sand and rock that is beneficial for all the wonderful agriculture that Washington state is well known for such as our sweet walla walla onions.
Eastern Washington also produces, in my opinion anyway, the best vineyard slopes available in New World Wines. The grape is Washington state’s fourth largest fruit crop. Although the season is shorter, our northern latitude provides more hours of summer sunlight than other growing regions.. This extra sunlight allows our grapes to produce more sugars and color due to the heat during the ripening process. Eastern Washington has an abundance of water from mountain rivers and underground aquifers that can be sourced for irrigation. Technology has blossomed to provide highly efficient irrigation systems. Vineyards are able to thrive because the sandy rock beds provide great drainage and reduce the threat of phylloxera, a vine killing aphid. The vines are able to root themselves and grow solid, strong trunks and with age will produce a sweet ripened grape that wine makers use to concoct all of our award winning Washington wines.
Washington is the nation’s second largest wine producer and is ranked among the world’s top wine regions (WWC). Washington produces more than 30 wine grape varieties and utilizes about 43,000 acres for growing. Washington state is currently home to 13 American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs as follows:
- Yakama Valley
- Walla Walla valley
- Columbia Valley
- Puget Sound
- Red Mountain
- Columbia Gorge
- Horse Heaven Hills
- Wahluke Slopes
- Rattlesnake Hills
- Snipes Mountain
- Lake Chelan
- Naches Heights
- Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
Washington has attracted wine makers from all over the world to create their own varietals using our lovely state’s grape treasures. I would love to expand on one of our own little treasures by introducing a vineyard of longstanding. Milbrandt Vineyards is owned and operated by Jerry and Butch Milbrandt. They are the largest grower on the Wahluke slopes, where they grow their reds, and their whites are grown in the most recent AVA-Ancient Lakes. They have been in the agriculture business for 45 years and own 2300 acres of land, some of the crops that they harvest besides grapes are wheat, potatoes, carrots,onions, and corn. It is my pleasure to be able to write about them for they are the ones who broke my categorical hatred of chardonnays. Not only that, I even ordered a case for my wedding, it was amazing!
Milbrandt sources out their grapes across the nation and to seven different countries, while producing wine under their own label and for different wineries. They say that Washington has the best slopes in the new world. Kelly Milbrandt, daughter of Jerry, equates Ancient Lakes to Chablis and Wahluke to Rhone, comparing the best from ancient France to growing regions right here in Washington. Talking about the best, Milbrandt has taken golds and double golds in competition against California wine varietals, it’s truly wonderful! Some of my favorite Milbrant wine is Brothers Blend, Evergreen Chardonnay, Milbrandt Traditions Cabernet, and Reisling. Really there is no bad Milbrant its all very lovely!
So the next time you take a drink of your favorite wine think of where that grape really came from and how it was started. When you take the first smell or sip, know your grape, know your land.
Washington Wine Commission