Washington’s 11th AVA: Lake Chelan



By Kori ~ May 26th, 2009.

As expected, Lake Chelan was approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the government agency that oversees all things wine, as Washington State’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA); it becomes official this Friday, May 29. Lake Chelan is home to 15 wineries, including Nefarious Cellars, Tsillan Cellars, and Chelan Estate Winery, and 260 vineyard acres, with more expected to be planted in the near future.

Vineyards in the new Lake Chelan AVALake Chelan is the second AVA established in Washington State this year. Snipes Mountain officially became an AVA in February. Lake Chelan, a 3-hour drive east from Seattle, has been a popular tourist destination for years especially during the summer months when visitors flock there to enjoy the sunshine and recreation around the lake.

In order for an AVA designation to be used on a wine’s label, 85 percent of the grapes used to produce the wine must be grown in the AVA. The Lake Chelan Wine Growers Association has been lobbying for this AVA designation for years and submitted their application to the TTB in 2006.

While a fairly young winegrowing region, Lake Chelan is poised to make a mark for itself around the world, especially with its white wines and cool-climate red varieties. The area’s soil components and textures differ from those elsewhere in the larger Columbia Valley AVA. Grapes planted near Lake Chelan benefit from the “lake effect” in which a large body of water absorbs heat during the summer to re-radiate during the fall and winter months and inhibit frost formation.

Washington State’s 11 AVAs and the year they were established:
Yakima Valley (1983)
Walla Walla Valley (1984)
Columbia Valley (1984)
Puget Sound (1995)
Red Mountain (2001)
Columbia Gorge (2004)
Horse Heaven Hills (2005)
Wahluke Slope (2006)
Rattlesnake Hills (2006)
Snipes Mountain (2009)
Lake Chelan (2009)

“The increasing number of Washington AVAs really speaks to the phenomenal growth and maturity of our state’s wine industry. We celebrate the great variety of soils and climates in our state and the AVA designations allow each appellation to distinguish their wines from the others.” –Robin Pollard, Executive Director of the Washington Wine Commission

So this summer when you visit Lake Chelan, take out a little time and visit some of their wineries and then let us know what you think of them. We’ve found several we like and plan to visit more on our next trip to Chelan.


Filed under: American Wine, Washington State Wine

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