As the year 2017 draws to a close, here's what ahead for Washington wine in 2018.
More Consolidation and Ownership Changes
The acquisition of Walla Walla Vintners by a Portland investor, signaled a sign of the times of consolidation in the Washington wine industry. The retirements of WWV founders Miles Anderson and Gordy Venneri is indicative of the trend of new players coming into the industry. Other acquisitons are sure to take place in the coming year. The Seattle based Metis, an Exvere Company has emerged as a major player with its role as a "Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory Services" organization. The Metis Walla Walla office is headed by Erik McLaughlin along with Philippe Michel. We will be seeing more of them in 2018.
More New Washington AVAs
There are applications pending with the U.S. Treasury TTB (Trade & Tobacco Bureau) for four new American Viticultural Areas as follows.
Candy Mountain - With 815 acres of vineyards, this will be Washington's smallest AVA. It is located at the northeast junction of Interstates 182 and 82, just west of Richland. The area has 53.7 acres of vines, most of the fruit going to Long Shadows and L'Ecole No. 41.
Royal Slope - This will be a sub AVA of Columbia Valley. It is located in east central Washington, near Royal City. It ha 1400 acres of vineyards planted, including Stillwater Creek, Lawrence and Stoneridge (the source of K Vintners Royal City Syrah).
The Burn of Columbia Valley - Located in south central Washington, between the Columbia Gorge and Horse Heaven Hills AVAs, it will comprise of 16.780 acres of which 1261 are under vine. Much of the plantings are Cabernet Sauvignon
White Bluffs - This will be another sub appellation of the Columbia Valley, located in south central Washington, north of Richland. It takes its name from the white sedimentary escarpments. The area encompasses 93.738 acres, of which 1127 are under vine. Well known vineyards in the proposed AVA are Sagemoor, Gamache and and Claar.
Approval of these new appellations which will expand the list of Washington AVAs to eighteen will take time. But it is a sign that Washington grape vine growing is expanding and new names are emerging.
Growth in Vineyard Plantings
Along with the growing list of Washington AVAs, there is growth in vineyard planting. The SeVein vineyard in the Walla Walla South Valley continues to add acreage. And there is the Va Piano Eritage project north of Highway 12 which will include a destination resort and restaurant. There is also the Widert property near Nine Mile Hill, a 6100 acre site up for sale by an Indiana owner. This could dramatically increase vineyard acreage in the Walla Walla Valley.
Plantings in other parts of the state will continue to grow as wineries look for increased sources for grapes. Watch for niche varieties as well, such as Picpoul, Counoise, Cinsault, Souzão, Tannat, and more.
More Later! And Happy New Year!