Viognier remains a darling in the Pacific Northwest

By on June 25, 2017
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Idaho winemaker Martin Fujishin loads a bin of Viognier from Williamson Vineyards on Tuesday in Caldwell, Idaho.

Idaho winemaker Martin Fujishin loads a bin of Viognier from Williamson Vineyards in Caldwell, Idaho. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Viognier ranks among the most maddening and confounding grapes. It is difficult to grow, and it is equally difficult to make into a balanced and delicious wine.

Yet the grape and its often highly floral aromatics has captured the imagination of Northwest winemakers, many of them caught up in the growing interest in Rhône varieties.

Viognier originates in France’s northern Rhône Valley, in a region just south of Côte-Rôtie called Condrieu. As recently as 1965, Viognier had dwindled to just a few acres and appeared on the brink of extinction when its fortunes and plantings improved.

It was first planted in Washington in the 1970s, with some of the first Viognier going in at Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley.

Today, Viognier remains a darling amid Washington winemakers, despite its difficulties. Last fall, wineries crushed 1,900 tons of Viognier. Here are 10 examples of Northwest wineries we’ve tasted in recent weeks. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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