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Our Favorite Wines of the Pacific Northwest

Although we love a good California wine, we're looking north for the next big thing. Within the last few decades, wines of the Pacific Northwest have exploded within the American market. With California wines rapidly climbing in both price and demand, vino lovers have begun seeking out the wines of neighboring Oregon and Washington-- and to no surprise, have fallen madly in love. Cooler climates, steep elevations, and an abundance of topographical variation provide these states with endless grape-growing possibilities. Not sure where to start? Check out these four regions below for some unforgettably delicious juice.

Willamette Valley:
By this point in your drinking career, you've more likely than not consumed a bottle of wine from Oregon; and most likely, this bottle came from the Willamette. Considered Oregon's claim to fame, the Willamette Valley is home to over 200 wineries, stretching from Portland down to Eugene.

The Valley's cool, maritime climate, coupled with ample bodies of water, provide for stellar grape growing conditions-- especially for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. There are six sub-regions within the Willamette Valley: Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, Chehalem Mountains, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, and Yamhill-Carlton, the latter of which contains the most wineries. For lovers of earthy, high-acid Pinot, this region's for you.

Columbia Gorge:

Known as “the world of wine in 40 miles," the Columbia Gorge presents a vast array of terroirs and microclimates, making it suitable for a bunch of different grape varieties. The AVA itself is quite unique, as it straddles the border of Oregon and Washington, causing it to exist in both states. Situated in the rain shadow of the Cascades, surrounded by rivers, and rustled by Columbia Gorge winds, there's really not much the Valley can't do; from Syrah to Gewurztraminer to Sangiovese, you won't have to look far to find your favorite variety within the Columbia Gorge AVA.

Yakima Valley:
When it comes to Washington, Yakima Valley is king. With over 11,000 acres under vines, Yakima Valley holds the largest amount of wineries within the entire state. In fact, Yakima was the first recognized AVA for Washington, claiming its title in the early 80s.

For white wine production, Chardonnay and Riesling dominate, while Merlot and Syrah claim the fame for the region's reds. Stone fruits, cherries, and most of the nation's beer hops production come from the region, as well, making this one of the most versatile growing areas (and best places to visit!) in all of Washington. Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain, and Rattlesnake Hills make up the Valley's subregions.

Walla Walla Valley:
And let's not forget Washington's Walla Walla Valley! Located slightly southwest of Yakima, the region gets its title from the namesake river that flows through the region. The entire Walla Walla Valley exists within the bigger Columbia Valley AVA; well-draining loess dominates soil types, though the region receives very little annual rainfall. The region is best known for its red wine production, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, which cumulatively make up around 85% of the region's plantings. Hey Napa lovers, we're looking at you…

Umpqua Valley AVA:
The Umpqua Valley may be small, yet she is fierce. Home to Oregon's first estate winery post-Prohibition, the region finally became recognized as an AVA less than 15 years ago. Though Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris dominate production, the region is a hotbed for experimentation; the first varietal Tempranillo in the entire Pacific Northwest was made here, followed by America's first marketed Gruner Veltliner. For those who love to be the first 'in the know,' we recommend sticking to the Umpqua.