We know a lot about wine but other than basic information about wine we focus a lot of our time and energy on the wine-making regions of the North American west coast including sub-regions located in predominantly California, Oregon, and Washington state.
If you are researching wineries or wine making in these regions then I hope you’ll find a lot of valuable information on the following pages.
California is the primary state for wine making in the US. Roughly 90% of all United States wine are produced in this state and roughly 70% of that production is high volume (arguably) low quality wines that are predominantly produced in the interior agricultural valley of the state. The best wines tend to come from the coastal locations that are able to stay cool at night and through the morning but still warm up significantly in the afternoons… and contrary to many European wines winemakers in California have a wide range of styles that can make deciphering the geographic origin of the grapes hard.
Oregon is home to many different types of wine but none are more prominent than the Pinot Noirs that come from this state. The Pinots are so different that some people refer to them by their own designation, Oregon Pinot Noirs, be cause they typically ripen slowly under long diffused sunlight which gives them characteristics that are distinctly Oregonian. Additionally the state produces a number of other varietals in differing volumes. Chardonnays and dry riesling are common throughout the state. Although most of the wine produced in Oregon comes from the Willamette Valley there are a number of smaller regions throughout the state that offer some unique wines due to the climate that is so unique to Oregon.
Washington State is made up of two major AVA, the Puget Sound AVA to the west of the Cascades and the Columbia Valley AVA to the East. The Columbia Valley AVA however is made up of eleven different sub-AVAs surrounding three major rivers that eventually combine and spill out into the Pacific Ocean. These sub-AVAs are similar in that they all largely sit in higher elevation, semi-desert conditions near water ways the make irrigation possible. Extended sunlight hours from northern latitudes allow these grapes to ripen slowly despite the lower overall temps of the wineries further south in California. Within the Columbia watershed most of the grapes are grown although many of them are shipped to the Puget sound for processing and bottling.
The Different AVAs (and Sub-AVAs) in Each State Are Worth Exploring
Within each state there are several distinct wine making regions (and sub-regions) that are most popular even though there are standout wineries throughout all areas. Excellent wine can be grown and produced from even the most obscure location.
Many AVAs are known for particular varietals while others are quite versatile covering a wide array of grape varieties, both common and unique to their geographic locations.
Pinot Noirs from Oregon’s Willammete Valley, Lemberger & Riesling from Washington’s Columbia Valley, and Cabernet Sauvignon from California’s Napa Valley come to mind without a second thought.
If you are planning a trip to a particular area then spend some time learning a bit about what makes West Coast wines different than old world wines and then dive in deep to the specific state or region you are planning on visiting.
You’ll find the differences are plentiful up and down the coast as climates and soil types change from one valley to the next for hundreds of miles.
Getting More Precise With The Differences Between Regional Wines
Above you can see in-depth overviews of the states that make up the West coast wine scene but we have also covered a number of regional topics and questions on our site which we encourage you to have a look at. Below are some of the most popular regional wine articles we’ve published to date.
► How Are Willamette Valley Wines Unique to Oregon
► Old World vs New World Wine: What’s The Difference
► What Kinds Of Wines Are Grown In The Santa Maria AVA
► Why Is Napa Valley So Good For Making Wine
► Difference Between Sonoma and Napa Wines
► Santa Barbara Wineries vs Napa: What’s The Difference
► Santa Barbara County vs Paso Robles Wine: What’s The Difference?