Washington Riesling not just a Ste. Michelle thing

By on July 9, 2017
Riesling is a favorite in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

A winemaker at the 2012 Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle displays his love for Riesling. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

When most folks hear “Riesling” and “Washington” in the same sentence, they might automatically insert “Chateau Ste. Michelle.” And there would be nothing wrong with that, seeing that Washington’s oldest and largest winery makes more Riesling than any winery on the planet.

Since introducing the 1999 inaugural vintage of Eroica, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has become the standard bearer for the American Riesling revolution. The Woodinville giant helped put Washington on the national wine stage when its 1972 Riesling was ranked No. 1 in a blind tasting conducted by the Los Angeles Times newspaper in 1974.

The fact is that most of the Riesling in Washington was planted to supply Ste. Michelle’s 1 million-plus cases of annual Riesling production, and thanks to Ste. Michelle, we know that cooler areas of the Columbia Valley – particularly the Yakima Valley and the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley – are superb for growing great Riesling.

Ste. Michelle also should be considered responsible for setting the quality bar on Riesling, and that we believe has encouraged other Washington producers to make not-so-insignificant amounts of Riesling. And that’s a trend we applaud. By our count, at least 75 different Washington wineries produce Riesling. It’s a cool deal that so many winemakers are working with Riesling – often in artisan-level amounts.

Riesling is revered the world over as the most noble of white wine grapes, and this movement of more producers crafting Washington Riesling only helps to solidify Washington’s place on the world wine stage.

Here are 11 Rieslings we’ve tasted recently, only two of which were made by Ste. Michelle. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant. Or contact the winery directly.

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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. Charles Hesson says:

    The best US Riesling is from the Willamette Valley Oregon!

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