Walla Walla Valley grows to 3000 acres

Elevation Vineyard, a source of estate fruit for Tertulia Cellars, is among the young plantings on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area. (Richard Duval Images/Courtesy of Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – There reportedly are more than 140 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, and a fresh survey determined the region is closing in on 3,000 acres of vineyards.

The study orchestrated by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance showed a 4.3 percent increase in plantings in the past two years, giving the bi-state growing region a total of 2,932 acres under vine. And 43 percent of those vineyards are established on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area.

“The continued growth of vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley is a testament to the unique and diversified soils and growing conditions present here,” Jason Magnaghi, viticulturist for Leonetti Cellar and Figgins Family Wine Estates stated in a news release. “Growers and vintners work together to plant varieties where the wines will best express the qualities of the growing site; it’s an exciting time in our industry as we learn and grow together.”

Leonetti founding winemaker Gary Figgins helped make Washington state, Cabernet Sauvignon and Walla Walla famous when Food & Wine magazine named his 1978 Cab as the publication’s top wine for 1981. Cab remains king in the Walla Walla Valley, accounting for 36 percent of all varieties planted in the AVA.

However, the study showed that Syrah now stands at No. 2 in the valley at 18 percent, moving ahead of Merlot (16%), with Cabernet Franc (7 percent) and Malbec (4 percent).