Viognier gains strength with Northwest wine lovers

By on December 20, 2015
Idaho winemaker Martin Fujishin loads a bin of Viognier from Williamson Vineyards on Tuesday in Caldwell, Idaho.

Idaho winemaker Martin Fujishin loads a bin of Viognier from Williamson Vineyards in Caldwell, Idaho. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Across the Northwest, the difficult-to-grow and hard-to-pronounce Viognier is gaining in popularity.

The white Rhône Valley variety, which was nearly extinct half-century ago, is picking up momentum with consumers and winemakers.

Viognier (pronounced VEE-own-yay) is not an easy grape to work with. It seems to grow best in cooler regions where it can retain acidity. Pick it a week early and it makes a boring wine. Pick it a week late and it’s oily and unattractive. But hit that sweet spot and you can end up with a wondrous wine that exhibits aromas and flavors of orange cream soda and exotic spices.

While it is grown throughout the Northwest, the largest plantings are in Washington, where about 2,000 tons are harvested and crushed each fall.

Here are examples of Viogniers we’ve tasted recently from Washington, British Columbia and Idaho.

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About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

One Comment

  1. Jeff Swanson says:

    Try the Eugene Wine Cellars B2 Viognier. Beautiful bouquet of springtime flowers, luxurious mouthfeel and a crisp finish. Only $18.

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