Columbia Valley AVA
History: On the Oregon side, the Columbia Valley wine history dates back to the early 1900s, when settlers planted the area’s first vineyard on a steep, southward-sloping hill near the small town of The Dalles. These Zinfandel vines, which are now more than 100 years old, still produce wine grapes at what is today known as The Pines 1852 Vineyard.
Location: The AVA is extremely large with 11 million acres of land. Most of Columbia Valley and its six sub-appellations lie in Washington, with a small section in Oregon stretching from The Dalles to Milton-Freewater. The region is 185 miles wide and 200 long.
Climate: Columbia Valley has a largely continental high desert climate. The hot days promote slow, even ripening, while the cool nights ensure that grapes retain their natural acidity. The area receives just 6 to 8 inches of annual rainfall, making supplemental irrigation a necessity throughout the region.
Soils: About 15,000 years ago a series of tremendous ice age floods (the Missoula Floods) deposited silt and sand over the area. These deposited sediments, along with wind-blown loess sediment, make up the area’s present-day soils.
Topography: The Columbia Valley lies on the Columbia River Plateau and encompasses the valleys formed by the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Walla Walla, Snake and Yakima rivers. Mountain ranges border the region on the west and north, while the Columbia River acts roughly as a boundary to the south, and the Snake River near Idaho creates the border to the east.