MERLOT ::2090 acres ::840 hectares
(mer-LOW) Yakima Valley Merlot is known for its sweet cherry, berry flavors and complex aromas that include plum, mint, cigar box, and sweet spices. Traditionally used in blends in much of Europe, Merlot gained popularity as a stand-alone wine in the USA in the early 1970s. Yakima Valley Merlot, with its cherry flavors and aroma, tends to be full-bodied with typically soft tannins, slightly higher in alcohol than its Bordeaux cousins and higher in acidity than Merlots from California.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON ::1350 acres ::550 hectares
(cab-air-NAY so-veen-YOWN) The king of the red grapes grows magnificently in Washington. The heady, fruity character of this complex grape develops slowly. In its youth, the wine appears more subtle and restrained than Washington Merlots. Its character can emerge as black currants, cherry, berry, chocolate, leather, mint, herbs, bell pepper or any combination of these. This wine ages beautifully. While several years of bottle aging are often needed for the wine to show its best, most can be appreciated in their youth. Many of the Yakima Valley vintners employ traditional blending practices, adding Merlot or Cabernet Franc to the wine.
SYRAH ::650 acres ::260 hectares
(sear-AH) The first Syrah grapes in Washington were planted in the Yakima Valley in 1986. National recognition for Yakima Valley Syrahs, together with the wines wide consumer appeal has lead to a substantial increase in Syrah plantings in the past few years. Syrah is just one of the Rhône varieties sparking new interest in Washington State. A spicy, rich, complex varietal, Syrah grapes turn into big, dark, intensely concentrated wines with aromas and flavors of blackberries, black currants, roasted coffee and leather.
CABERNET FRANC ::250 acres ::100 hectares
(cab-air-NAY FRAWNK) Cabernet Franc has captured the attention of Washington winemakers who are exploring the grapes unique varietal characteristics, using it both as a blending grape and as a stand alone variety. A hardy grape, Cabernet Franc has been of primary value for the sturdy core and firm tannins it adds to softer wines. On its own, it offers delicious, spicy notes with mellow coffee and intense blueberry fruit.
Lemberger (LEM-burr-gurr) (also Blue Franc) Makes soft fruity wines, enjoyable when young.
Sangiovese (san-gee-o-VASE-ee) The classic wine grape of Chianti, these wines are great with tomato-based dishes.
Malbec (MALL-bek) One of the five permitted red varietals of Bordeaux, this distinctive wine is most often used for blending.
CHARDONNAY ::3180 acres ::1290 hectares
(shar-doe-NAY) Yakima Valleys most widely planted grape is also the best manifestation of the states special winemaking character. Diverse styles made by Washington winemakers vary from crisp non-oak versions to richer barrel fermented wines. Both of these styles showcase Chardonnay varietal intensity and typically good Washington acid balance. Many wineries also use secondary malo-lactic fermentation to add rich vanillin and buttery nuances.
RIESLING ::920 acres ::370 hectares
(REES-ling) Yakima Valley Riesling is one of the original grape varieties grown in Washington and one of the first to bring national attention to Washington wines. The Valleys Rieslings tend to be very floral in the nose, with vivid apricot-peach flavors. Most Washington Rieslings are vinted in an off-dry to slightly sweet style, all balanced with typically good acidity. Occasionally, “noble rot” works its magic on Riesling, concentrating the sugars and flavors to produce a late-harvest or ice wine of incomparable intensity.
SEMILLON ::150 acres ::60 hectares
(SEH-me-yown) Washington is known for its Semillon, and while this wine is most often enjoyed young, Washington Semillons have been known to age beautifully into rich, honeyed, nutty wines. When young, it offers a broad spectrum of flavors, ranging from crisp citrus to melon and fig, and from fresh pears to vanillin. A wine with somewhat lower acidity than Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon is luscious, yet light. On rare occasions we see “noble rot” on this grape giving us a rare late-harvest bottling.
SAUVIGNON BLANC ::270 acres ::110 hectares
(SO-veen-yawn BLAWNK) These grapes make wines that appear under two names-Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc. They are becoming increasingly popular for their distinctive character, often described as fruity with a touch of herbaceousness and lively acidity. As with Chardonnay, styles range from slightly tart and grassy to tangy pineapple laced with oak.
GEWÜRZTRAMINER ::420 acres ::170 hectares
(ge-VOORTZ-tra-me-nair) An early Washington success story because of its ability to withstand the cold winters, Gewürztraminer typically offers allspice as well as tropical fruit with zesty aromas and flavors. Previously made only in an off-dry, or slightly sweet style, Gewürztraminer is now being explored by Washington winemakers who wish to make dry styles that retain its rich aromatics.
Chenin Blanc (SHEN-nin BLAHNK) Lively fruit and mouth-watering acidity make this the perfect oyster wine.
Pinot Gris (PEE-no GREE) Produces soft wines with delicate varietal elements of melon and spice.
Viognier (vee-own-YAY) A richly-textured wine with distinctive aromatic notes of peaches and honeysuckle.