Wahluke Slope AVA is where Backpack Wines’ grapes call home before they become wine.
Wahluke Slope is an AVA in Washington State. An “AVA” is an American Viticultural Area, a designated grape growing area in the United States. These areas are supposed to have boundaries and geographical features that are significant when it comes to growing wine. Similar “terroir” as the French would say. Terroir is, by most standards, paramount and Backpack Wines come from an up and coming area.
Terroir also requires a definition. Essentially it is the climate and geography of a given area that gives wines a certain area unique characteristics. Terroir is a factor an AVA should take into account. These boundaries are created by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Sometimes an AVA may be so large that, from a wine standpoint, it is more organizational than meaningful. Other countries have such distinctions. In France there are AOCs and, on a larger scale Pays d’Oc areas. Italy has DOC, DOCG for its higher quality wines. Within these are a large number of larger and smaller categories (too numerous to list). It can get quite complicated but one general truth is that the smaller the AVA (or DOC or AOC etc.) the more significant it is to a wine.
Wahluke Slope first came into existence in 2006. It is in the area between the Columbia River, Saddle Mountains and the Hanford Reach National Monument. One AVA can fit entirely inside another and Wahluke Slope fits entirely within the Columbia Valley AVA. The area encompases 81,000 acres and has almost 8,500 acres of vineyards. It is a warm, dry area that uses irrigation.
Irrigation allows for better control by growers and the area is also known for having remarkably similar soils for such a large area. Irrigation and the consistency of the soils will help Backpack Wines with a consistent product year in and year out. Many of the area’s vineyards have been planted in the last decade and a half.
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