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Washington closes in on six new AVAs as wineries pass 1,000 mark

Published:  19 November, 2019

Washington State has edged closer to its aim of adding six new AVAs to its current roster of 14 as this Pacific North West producer continues on its fast growth trajectory.

The new AVAs, which should be formalised over “the next six to 12 months”, according to Washington State Wine’s Doug Marshall, follow a significant psychological landmark for the industry, which reached 1,000 wineries this autumn, having expanded from just 200 back in 2003.

“The growth has been pretty substantial and we believe a lot of that growth comes down to quality,” Marshall told Harpers at a recent US Wine Seminar in London.

He added that, as a young region with just “20 to 30 years of winemaking” tradition, Washington and its producers – including an influx of younger, second generation winemakers – is now beginning to get more fully into its stride, understanding its potential sub-regions, soils and climates.

Among the new AVAs being proposed are: The Burn, White Bluffs, Candy Mountain, Goose Gap, Royal Slope.

“We know more about the region now, so we are understanding where boundaries are, recognising regions… the new AVAs, and one of reason we are seeing so many with six in the works, is that we are really honing our region in.”

In the early days the pioneers of Washington’s budding wine industry typically looked to France for inspiration, or Napa, where big, bold styles of Cabernet Sauvignon provided an early template to follow.

However, said Marshall, the state has now embraced its own styles, and with wines rarely available for under £10, the premium nature of its collective portfolio has finally been gaining traction both in the US and key export markets such as the UK.

“As people become more willing to explore and explore something they don’t know, [with] any wine region that is primarily premium, that gives us a leg up, because that is our world,” he said by way of explaining the ongoing expansion of Washignton’s winemaking scene.

(Picture: Richard Duval Wine Photgrapher)