Further north along the Pacific coast, there are another two important wine states: Oregon and Washington. The two states, together with Idaho, are known as “the Pacific North West”.
Situated to the north of California, the state of Oregon is internationally famous for its outstanding Pinot Noirs. Cool-climate varieties thrive in Oregon because the cooler climate here is combined with long daylight hours. Growing seasons in Oregon are usually warm and dry, with sharp temperature variations between day and night. This produces grapes of outstanding fruit flavours.
Alongside the fresh, crisp and complex Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are also very successful varieties here. The wine industry in Oregon is made up predominantly of family wineries, meaning quality is valued more than quantity in this state, with wines sold at a comparatively higher price.
Most vines in Washington State are planted in the Columbia Valley and its sub-regions, notably the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla Valley. The inland valley of Columbia is usually dry and warm during summers, with sunny days and cool nights, yielding grapes of great ripeness and good acidity balance.
Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the four top varieties of the state. The whites tend to be ripe and toasty, while the reds are normally quite elegant. The warming, highly concentrated Syrah is also a promising variety. Malbec is a newcomer, but is quickly achieving popularity among US wine lovers.
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