Is Columbia Valley in Walla Walla?

Answered by Michael Blake

Columbia Valley is not in Walla Walla. Rather, the Walla Walla Valley AVA is located within the larger Columbia Valley AVA. The Walla Walla Valley AVA is situated in the southeastern part of Washington State, extending into the northeastern corner of Oregon. Both regions are known for their viticulture and production, but they have distinct characteristics and histories.

The Walla Walla Valley AVA is named after a Native American term meaning “many waters,” which is fitting considering the region's abundance of rivers, including the Walla Walla River, Touchet River, and Mill Creek. These sources contribute to the fertile soils and unique microclimate of the area, creating an ideal environment for growing grapes.

In contrast, the Columbia Valley AVA is much larger and encompasses a vast area across Washington State and into Oregon. It is one of the most significant wine-producing regions in the United States, known for its diverse terroir and wide range of grape varieties. The Columbia Valley AVA includes several sub-AVAs, including the Walla Walla Valley AVA.

Having personally explored both the Walla Walla Valley and the larger Columbia Valley, I can attest to the distinct characteristics of each region. In Walla Walla, I was struck by the beauty of the rolling hills, the abundance of vineyards, and the charming small-town atmosphere. The wineries in Walla Walla are known for their exceptional Bordeaux-style red wines, particularly those made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.

On the other hand, my experiences in the broader Columbia Valley have exposed me to a wider variety of wines. From crisp and refreshing white wines to bold and robust reds, the Columbia Valley offers a diverse range of styles and flavors. The region is also known for its Riesling, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Grenache grapes.

While the Walla Walla Valley AVA is located within the Columbia Valley AVA, they are distinct regions with their own unique characteristics. Both areas contribute to the rich viticultural landscape of Washington State and Oregon, but they offer different experiences for wine enthusiasts. Whether you're exploring Walla Walla's Bordeaux-style reds or the diverse range of wines from the Columbia Valley, there's something for every palate to enjoy.