The popularity of wine tasting in Washington State has grown exponentially in the past two decades. The most visited areas for wine tourists are the Woodinville Wine Country (more than 100 wineries), and Walla Walla (nearing 170 wineries). While Woodinville is less than 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, Walla Walla is in a somewhat more remote area of the state, with an American Viticultural Area (AVA) that extends into the state of Oregon.
Although the first Oregon wineries were founded in late 1800s, it was almost a century later in the early 1960s that the wine industry began to develop in what is now the Umpqua Valley American Viticultural Area, not the Willamette. What? Zinfandel is Oregon’s grape? Who knew? Although Noble Grapes-Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah-are planted successfully, southern Oregon is increasingly becoming known for its Spanish varietals.
Although California’s winemaking dates back to the 1700s, it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that California wineries established themselves as world leaders. California wineries continue to account for approximately 90% of U.S. wine production. California’s reputation for quality rests not only on an ideal climate, but also on the innovation and determination of California winemakers.
Smaller breweries, many them family owned, are integral parts of their local communities. When you choose to buy beer brewed by small, micro and craft brewers you support businesses that provide local jobs and contribute to the local tax base. Many of these breweries are also generous contributors to charitable organizations supporting a host of worthy causes.