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Northwest Wine Industry Matures With Appellation Milestones

Anna King
Northwest News Network
The Walla Walla appellation will mark their 30 year anniversary in March.

Many of the distinct wine grape growing regions in the Northwest are celebrating 30 years since the federal government recognized them as appellations -- or distinct growing areas.

Next up with a birthday is Walla Walla, Wash.

Darcey Small says back when her husband Rick started planting vines in long-time wheat ground, people thought he was nuts. Now, those vines are the roots of Woodward Canyon which is now one of the oldest wineries in the Walla Walla Valley.

In March, the Walla Walla appellation will be celebrating their 30 year anniversary with an expert panel and tasting event.

Darcey Small says the valley’s industry has now grown to include more than 100 wineries.

“We’re getting an ever smaller piece of an ever enlarging pie," she says. "There is a lot more attention on Walla Walla, there are certainly a lot more people coming to Walla Walla and specifically for wine. But they are spread out amongst now all those wineries.”

Others hitting the 30-year mark lately are: the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley in Washington.

In Idaho, the wine industry is much younger. The earliest federal appellation was the Snake River Valley in 2007. Idaho now has 50 wineries.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.