The growth of the Washington wine industry has taken large strides over the last 35 years. The number of wineries has increased steadily over the years going from 15 wineries to nearly 700 wineries today. During the last year of growth alone there were 60 new wineries started, which is 4-fold greater than what the state had in 1980.
Washington is well known for producing high quality red and white wines. In 2004 the most popular grape based on acreage was Chardonnay while Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon came in a close second and third. Chardonnay and Merlot make up about 23% of the total wine grape acreage while Cabernet Sauvignon is about 21%. Reds are slightly more popular than whites in Washington in acreage (15,000 vs 12,000). But in terms of tonnage whites are actually higher by about 5000 tons. This is due to white grapes being grown at higher tonnage per acre yield. Whites on an average yield about a ton more per acre than reds (4.3 vs 3.3 tons per acre). The highest yielding cultivar in the state on an average is Riesling with 6.2 tons per acre while the lowest yielding cultivars are Chenin blanc and Semillion at 2.8 tons per acre.
Although there are over 300 wineries in the state. The majority of the wineries are small (under 5000 case production) with a few labels producing over 90% of the wine. This does not diminish the quality of Washington wine or the camaraderie that is found within the state among the wineries. Washington produces about 16.5 million gallons per year and is second to California in wine production per state.
To learn about wine production, wine chemistry, and picking decisions follow the link above.
To learn about the economics of starting a winery, follow the link above.
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