The dramatic geographical characteristics of the Pacific Northwest have been shaped—and reshaped—by floods, glacial migrations, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. These events have created a soil environment that’s resulted in a singularly distinctive terroir, leading to exceptional Washington wines.
“I believe that wines from this region are very artfully done; the winemaking and the culture still has an innocence and purity that some of the larger wine producing regions have lost,” says Jesus Evangelista, a certified sommelier and beverage manager at Montage Beverly Hills. “[The winemakers in this area] do not let market share dictate winemaking style. They create beautiful wines with what nature gives them every year.”
Bottling the unique terroir of this region has become a passion for Washington state vintners, demonstrated not only by their increasing appearance on respected wine lists, but also by business moves that include the $120 million acquisition in October 2016 of several Washington state labels by beverage giant Constellation Brands, and by major wine events that include Taste Washington. The popular Seattle-based event—which features tastings, tours, seminars and other activities—draws more than 235 area wineries, testifying to the growth of this wine region. There’s no shortage of choices, thanks to a variety of soils and microclimates.
“I believe the best varietals in the area,” Evangelista says, “are riesling, chardonnay and pinot gris for whites; and syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc for reds. I believe the wines speak the local language here, and that is what appeals to me as a wine lover.”
By Debra Bokur