Defining Washington

Washington State may be the greatest enigma in the American wine industry.

What Washington does better than anyone is make every varietal at a level that is world class.  Nowhere else in the world would a winery grow Cabernet and Riesling in adjoining rows, and make top notch wine from each varietal.  The list of high performing is as long as your arm, and across borders of standard expectations. 

Alsatian whites

Rhone reds

Bordelais red and white varietals

Burgundian whites

In this list of things done impressively well lies the aforementioned enigma.  Upon what does Washington hang its hat?  Quality:Price Ratio to be sure, in every varietal and price point, but is that sufficiently capturing the attention of the domestic wine buyer.

In Bordeaux, the European wine growing region with whom Washington most closely aligns itself, the Estates define themselves by the confines of what is planted on their property.  The Estate never mentions varietals, only the assumed expectation that they have planted what grows best on their properties, and are offering you the first and second wines that have long resulted from these efforts.  

In the bulk wine market, Washington seems best represented behind red blends.  It is not a category where California exceeds, as in Cabernet and Chardonnay, and offers a Northwestern alternative to the clearly defined Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

In a landscape of increasing opportunities on the national and global scale, it appears to be in Washington's best interest to define itself to the evolving Milennial demographic that is open to new adventures, so far as they understand the brand and type that is sizzlingly on the upswing.