“As we work to raise awareness and demand for Washington wine, each new AVA provides an opportunity to grow our educational content around the diversity and unique make-up of our state,” says Chris Stone, vice president of communications and marketing for Washington State Commission.
Washington State winegrowers have long championed the wide array of growing conditions that help produce world-class bottlings. And a recent push to officially define the state’s vast diversity continues to pay dividends.
On June 3, Rocky Reach became the state’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), the result of years of campaigning by local growers and producers.
Rocky Reach is Washington’s 20th AVA, and the sixth appellation in the state to receive the designation since 2020. The recent wave of approvals highlights the recognition and innovation that exists within the state’s wine industry.
“Each AVA further defines our grape growing regions, and signifies our state as a whole.” —Chris Stone, vice president of marketing and communications, Washington State Wine Commission
At least one other AVA application in the state is underway.
Located within the greater Columbia Valley, Rocky Reach encompasses seven vineyards that lie on low-elevation gravel terraces in an ancient canyon carved by the Columbia River.
Why It Matters
“Each AVA further defines our grape growing regions, and signifies our state as a whole,” says Stone. “As we work to raise awareness and demand for Washington wine, each new AVA provides an opportunity to grow our educational content around the diversity and unique makeup of our state. Rocky Reach enhances the educational content we have on Washington’s terroir.”
Kevin Pogue, PhD, a professor of geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, and who wrote the petition for the creation of Rocky Reach AVA and a handful of others in Washington and Oregon likes to create AVAs that he thinks are “terroir driven.”
But an AVA designation doesn’t necessarily equate to distinctive geologic terroir, says Pogue. Often, it encompasses a collection of terroirs that may also be affected by factors like slope, aspect, elevation, soil type, climate, or even politics among those petitioning to bring an AVA into being. Rocky Reach’s geologic makeup is particularly distinctive, which proponents point to as evidence of the area’s winemaking capabilities.