Chardonnay popular on both sides of Columbia River

By on July 30, 2017
Chardonnay grapes in Kestrel Vineyard.

Chardonnay grapes are close to optimal ripeness in the Yakima Valley. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Chardonnay is by far the most popular wine in America, and in the Pacific Northwest, it also has strong support.

In Washington, it is the No. 1 white wine grape, keeping ahead of Riesling but lagging behind Cabernet Sauvignon. Across the Columbia River in Oregon, it is the No. 2 white grape behind Pinot Gris and far behind Pinot Noir, the state’s signature wine.

Chateau Ste. Michelle leads the Northwest in Chardonnay, producing more than a million cases last year.

It’s good to have such robust Chardonnay production from both states because that provides a diversity of styles, with the Columbia Valley producing a riper style that comes from the sun-drenched region, and cooler-climate styles coming from the Willamette Valley. In addition, winemakers in both states are pushing the boundaries of traditional styles, experimenting with different levels of oak, along with making the wine in such vessels as stainless steel and concrete eggs.

All of this adds up to it being a good time to being a lover and explorer of wines in the Pacific Northwest.

Here are a dozen delicious examples of Chardonnay from both Washington and Oregon. Ask for them at your favorite wine shop or contact the wineries 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.

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