Located on the same parallel as the famous Bordeaux region of France, the Yakima Valley provides a nearly perfect location to grow grapes. The Valley was sculpted by a number of ancient wrinkles formed in the land when volcanoes cooled and sank, leaving behind a large basalt layer in the earth. Prehistoric floods also aided in creating optimal soils for growing wine. Floods deposited fine silt, layering the ground with soils such as silt, loam, loess, and cobble — each offering the proper drainage necessary to keep the vine’s vigor under control.
The proximity of the Yakima Valley from the Cascade Mountain range, orientation of numerous valleys, and varying elevations produce different and distinct microclimates within the Yakima Valley AVA.
The sunny slopes of the Yakima Valley foothills are blessed with a long growing period, extended daylight hours, and cool evenings that yield bold, hearty and luscious world-class wines. Hot summer days and cool nights provide the perfect growing environment. The region benefits from the large swing between daytime and nighttime temperatures. This fluctuation in temperature is considered key by winemakers and wine grape growers to attain the intense varietal character.
The Valley’s cold winters kill pests that are prevalent in other, milder wine growing regions throughout the United States. This allows Yakima Valley to be one of the few wine growing regions in the world planting on their own rootstock.
The Yakima Valley is a high desert region receiving less than six inches of rainfall per year. Irrigation water from the Cascade Mountain snow melt allows Yakima Valley growers to control the amount of water each plant receives throughout the growing period. This control of water allows growers the ability to create great concentration and flavors.
The lack of rain, abundant sun, and ability to control water makes this region the perfect winegrowing region, as a result, the Yakima Valley grows the majority of Washington State’s wines.
There is a wide range of elevations of vineyards in the Yakima Valley. Vineyard elevations can be found from 1,000 feet to 3,000 feet above sea level.
Due to cool nights, warm days, and controlled water, Yakima Valley vines tend to have a longer growing season (190 day average) giving the grapes more hang time resulting in fully mature fruit whose acid chemistry is kept in balance because of the region’s cool nights.