Considered by some to be the best vineyard site in Washington State, Wallula Vineyard is a picturesque growing location nestled high above the mighty Columbia River south of Kennewick. The vineyard is planted on south-facing slopes which vary from 2% up to 30% grade and its perimeter totals 9 miles of varied terrain. Of this perimeter, the shore of the Columbia River provides nearly 3.5 miles of waterfront.
From the river’s edge at 320 feet above sea level, the property climbs a distance of nearly 3.5 miles to its peak elevation of 1367 feet. The lower elevations of the property provide ideal growing conditions for ultra-premium reds while conditions at the upper elevations allow for high quality whites to be grown. The river is of utmost importance as the water acts as a massive insulator where during the day heat accumulates quickly and at night it provides a cooling effect once the sun goes down.
Wallula’s beauty as well as its suitability to wine grapes is due in part to the huge Missoula floods that raced down the Columbia River during the last ice age. The surging waters deposited Shano silt loam soils on the site, and carved the steep, basalt-rimmed canyon walls, atop which the vineyards are planted.
According to the Washington Wine Commission, Washington State receives 16 hours per day of summer sunlight, about one more hour than California’s prime growing region. Washington ranks as the second largest premium wine producer in the United States.
The Columbia Valley AVA stretches between the 46th parallel and 47th parallel which puts it in line with the well known French wine growing regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The northern latitude gives the areas two more hours of additional daylight during the summer growing season than wine regions of California receive. The volcanic and sandy loam soil of the valley offers good drainage and is poor in nutrients, ideal in forcing the vine to concentrate its resources into the grape clusters.
The unique climates of the area allow the Columbia Valley to produce wines that are very fruit-forward, like California wine, but which also retain some of the balance and structure of European wine.