The Lake Chelan AVA
The Lake Chelan appellation is located in central Washington and is a sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley. Though grapes were planted in the area as far back as the 1860’s, modern day Vitus Vinifera (European origin) plantings resumed in 1998. Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir make up the majority of the red varieties planted. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris head the list of white varieties planted. That said, over 20 noble wine grape varieties are currently flourishing in this pristine area of Washington State.
With the exception of the Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills and Lake Chelan appellations, all other appellations located in eastern Washington State were affected by a great flood some 8,000 years ago. This flood was the result of a great ice dam bursting in the State of Montana releasing a vast reservoir of water behind it westward. The wall of water swept across the State of Idaho and into the southern two thirds of eastern and central Washington. Soil and rock were stripped from some areas and deposited elsewhere downstream. Not so with the Lake Chelan appellation. The vineyards sites in the Lake Chelan appellation possess soils which are expressly the result of massive glaciers once present in the Lake Chelan basin. The ice of these glaciers was over one mile deep. The slow glacial bulldozing – grinding of rock and the surrounding mountains and hillsides produced perfect soils and slopes for grape growing. Once the glaciers receded and melted away somewhat, the result was a 55 mile long – 1,500 foot deep lake with water so clean many homes simply pump their drinking water directly from the lake. The soils are primarily sandy – loam or sandy – loam with varying amounts of glacial rubble.
Vineyards must be planted between 1,100 -2,000 feet above sea level in order to be within the appellations borders. Proximity to the eastern slopes of the breathtaking Cascade Mountains also affects our growing conditions somewhat. The combination of elevation, Cascade Mountains, glacial soils and the lake effect makes for without question a unique – ideal grape growing region. As a bonus, the scenic beauty found within our appellation is second to none worldwide.