East of the Cascade mountains lies the sunny and parched side of the state where the days are warm and the nights are cool--near perfect conditions for creating "balanced" wines.
Celebrated as Washington's first official appellation, Yakima Valley is home to more than one third of the vineyards in Washington State. It is typically cooler here than elsewhere in the Columbia Valley, which ensures a nice long growing season--time that helps build complex flavors in the grapes.
Wines from Yakima Valley also benefit from a frisky acidity that often leads to comparisons with French wines, particularly those of Bordeaux and the Rhone regions. Syrah is coming on strong in the Yakima Valley, but Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most planted red grapes. Chardonnay has the most plantings of the white grapes, followed by Riesling.