During the past decade, the number of wineries in Washington has increased by 400 percent according to figures provided by Chateau Ste Michelle., the state’s first and largest winery. More than 100-plus wineries and tasting rooms can be found within Greater Seattle and hundreds more East of the Cascades in Washington Wine Country. There were only 19 wineries in Washington in 1981. Today, there are more than 900!
Washington state sold 13.13 million cases of wine in 2016, making it the second largest premium wine producer in the U.S. According to the Washington State Wine Commission, Washington’s mature export markets include Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan. China, Northern Europe and South Korea are developing markets. In 2016, Washington exported about 5 percent of its wine to overseas markets, valued at $27.3 million.
Washington State University (WSU), among other institutions in the state, are educating future winemakers. The world-class Viticulture & Enology Program at WSU, is only the second of its kind in the United States and critical to the growth of the industry, providing cutting-edge research and training for the next generation of vintners and grapes growers. Washington’s Columbia Valley is located at the same latitude as the Bordeaux region of France yielding the perfect climate for wine grapes. Together with low rainfall, sandy soil and almost two more hours of sunlight than California during the summer, the Columbia Valley is ideal for wine.
Wineries in Greater Seattle and Washington state are attracting tourists from across the U.S. and the world who come to enjoy the beautiful landscape and premium wine. Chateau St. Michelle, located in Woodinville, draws more than 300,000 tourists across the globe annually to its newly renovated world-class Visitor Center and summer concert series. Winemakers from Napa Valley, California are already buying land in the state due to the high cost of grapes in California and lack of available land, particularly in Napa. There are approximately 13,500 acres of grapes in the Yakima Valley, with a potential for 200,000 acres. Over the next several decades, there could be thousands of wineries popping up in the Columbia Valley, Red Mountain and Yakima Valley AVAs. Not only is this great news for the local economy, Greater Seattle and Washington state can boast an international reputation as a wine country vacation destination.