Yakima Valley AVA celebrates 40 years as Washington’s first growth

YAKIMA, WASH—(Jan 11, 2023)—This New Year’s was particularly special across the Washington State wine industry. As the clock struck midnight, Yakima Valley grape growers and winemakers started celebrating their 40th anniversary as part of the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) established in the Pacific Northwest.

In early 1983, the federal government designated the Yakima Valley as the first wine growing appellation north of California. Across the following three decades, the Yakima Valley wine industry has consistently justified its status as the “first growth” of Washington State. From the earliest vintages until today, the Yakima Valley has grown more wine grapes for Washington wineries than any other appellation. Simultaneously, it has cultivated most of the best wine in the region, since award-winning wineries from Woodinville to Walla Walla to the Willamette Valley have grown to greatness through their use of Yakima Valley grapes.

USA, Washington, Sunnyside. Morning light on Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain.

“The coming year is a special one for the Pacific Northwest wine industry,” said Barbara Glover, executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, the official association of Yakima Valley wineries and growers. “We’re celebrating the confluence of conditions that has made the Yakima Valley so important to the regional wine industry: this valley is the first AVA in Washington State; this valley is home to the most significant vineyard acreage in Washington State; and this valley fuels the best wine labels across the state and beyond.” She added, “I encourage everyone to enjoy the compelling simplicity of having ‘first, most, and best’ in one appellation: Yakima Valley.”

Glover commented that the local wine industry will be making the most of this 40th anniversary throughout 2023. “We’re planning remote master classes about the AVA for selected members of the media; we’ll be conducting great tasting seminars for the public; there will be a summer vineyard tour; and we’ll host members of the trade and press for informative and fun tours across the appellation.”

She concluded, “In all, everyone will see that 40 years is worth celebrating—and that 23 is a very lucky number.”

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