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Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009

Washington: Columbia Gorge

This multi-state appellation begins around the town of Lyle and heads west to Husum on the Washington side of the Columbia River. It was established in 2004.

Notable Columbia Gorge vineyards

Celilo Vineyard: The coolest climate of any vineyard on our list is the western Columbia Gorge, where famed Celilo Vineyard is located. This 60-acre operation near the town of Husum - straight north across the Columbia River from Hood River, Ore. Celilo might fall under the radar because its focus is such varieties as Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. However, these grapes are highly prized by such top producers as Woodward Canyon Winery in the Walla Walla Valley and Ken Wright Cellars in Oregon’s north Willamette Valley. Celilo is owned and operated by Rick and Jody Ensminger, who sell their fruit to two dozen wineries, many of which turn them into vineyard-designated bottlings. Unlike the rest of the vineyards on our list, Celilo is in a cooler zone that sees some 50 inches of rain per year (primarily in the winter) and much cooler temperatures. This region has silty loam soils (vs. the sandy loam generally found in the arid Columbia Valley), and heat units range between 1,500 and 2,000 annually.