Wahluke Slope plays key role for Washington wineries

By on February 4, 2018
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The Wahluke Slope in Washington state is one of the Columbia Valley's key grape-growing areas.

Workers harvest wine grapes on the western Wahluke Slope in Washington’s Columbia Valley. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

The Wahluke Slope is in a remote and arid section of Washington wine country, an 80,000-acre region that was federally designated as an American Viticultural Area in 2006.

It’s essentially a 13-mile wide gravel bar formed 15,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age when a series of outburst floods swept across what is now the Columbia Valley and reshaped what is now Washington wine country.

The Wahluke is Washington wine’s unsung hero. Nearly 10,000 acres of wine grapes are planted on along the slope, a region that rarely has an issue getting ripe. It rivals Red Mountain as the warmest region within the Columbia Valley.

It also is quite dry Last year, the Wahluke Slope received a mere 4.6 inches of rain. This means grape growers on the slope can all but guarantee perfectly ripened red grapes each fall, a fact appreciated by winemakers across the state.

Here are eight wines using Wahluke Slope fruit. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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