Cave B Vineyards is an estate planting for Cave B Estate Winery near the Gorge Amphitheater in the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area. (Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Cave B Vineyards is an estate planting for Cave B Estate Winery near the Gorge Amphitheater in the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area. (Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Ancient Lakes’ cooler climate ideally suited for white wines

The region near Quincy spans 170,000 acres in size, but is home to about 2,000 acres of vineyards.

QUINCY, Wash. — One of the most fascinating sources of Washington wine is known as the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, a region that has a long history with agriculture, but only in recent years began gaining a reputation for growing wine grapes.

It is in Central Washington and surrounds the Columbia Basin towns of George and Quincy. It was Washington’s 13th American Viticultural Area, approved by the federal government in 2012. The Ancient Lakes spans nearly 170,000 acres in size, but is home to about 2,000 acres of vineyards.

While much of Washington has a reputation for red wine grapes, the Ancient Lakes is best known for having a cooler climate and ideally suited for white varieties such as riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. In fact, the wines coming from the Ancient Lakes are among the most distinctive in the Northwest. Not unlike Burgundy’s Chablis region, home to several of the world’s most acclaimed white wines.

Some of the earliest grapes were planted in the region in 1980 by a winery called Champs de Brionne, a property that eventually became the Gorge Amphitheater. The vines are still there, now part of Cave B, a stunning destination estate winery between the Columbia River and I-90 near George.

The Ancient Lakes take their name from a series of 35 lakes that are remnants of floods that swept through the Columbia Basin at the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. The resulting soils are varied and perfect for growing world-class wine grapes, and high-end producers crave grapes from the region for crafting distinctive wines.

Here are examples of top wines using Ancient Lakes grapes, all of which earned a gold medal or better at this year’s Cascadia International Wine Competition. Ask for the wines at your favorite wine shop or order directly from the winery.

Jones of Washington 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley $15: The stellar white grapes that the Jones family grows includes with this continual award-winning sauvignon blanc. Classic grapefruit and lime with a hint of dried sweet grass start things off on the right note. The palate is easy with acidity in check but giving the fruit flavors perkiness. Passion fruit joins the citrus, green apple and dried tarragon for a tasty combo. Chicken, pork chops and clams would be happy to share the table.

Cave B Estate Winery 2016 Estate Malbec, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley $38: The vineyards of Ancient Lakes AVA also are producing some beautiful reds, including this malbec grown by the Bryan family and crafted into wine by their son-in-law, Freddy Arredondo. Raspberry, sweet cherries and crushed flowers perfume the air above the glass. The palate is bright with pretty flavors of blueberry, raspberry, vanilla, dried florals and spice. Its bright structure would love the company of duck confit or pate.

Palencia Wine Co., 2018 Albariño, Ancient Lakes, $25: Victor Palencia calls his premium tier wines “El Viñador” and this 2018 Ablariño lives up to his faith in it. It shows off the highly aromatic fruit of the Ancient Lake, with a nose of lime, pink grapefruit and citrus zest. On the palate, the lime dominates, with a hint of Asian pear, backed brilliantly by crisp acidity. Enjoy it alongside a seafood salad featuring grilled shrimp, octopus and scallops.

Milbrandt Vineyards 2018 Evergreen Vineyard Estate Riesling, Ancient Lakes $13: The Milbrandt family’s Evergreen Vineyard provided the fruit for this off-dry riesling, making for a highly aromatic wine that leads off with lime and lemon aromas and minerality. It delivers more lemon, lime, a bit of Mandarin orange. Its beautifully crisp acidity will make you wonder just how “off dry” it really is. This past spring, Wine Press Northwest magazine named Milbrandt Vineyards as its Washington Winery of Year for 2019.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Caption: A mom’s unpaid labor to her house each week: $300.
My house was clean three weeks ago. Sorry you missed it

Sticker-shock quotes from housecleaning businesses inform a mom just what her labor is worth.

Fine-tune your coping skills for when life gets difficult

Here are four ways to develop healthy ways to deal with the stress that inevitably comes our way.

Krakow’s main square offers a vibrant slice of modern Polish life — and it’s just steps away from a cheap and cheerful milk bar meal.
Poland’s milk bars dish up memories and cheap eats

You can eat well there for just $5, making them perhaps the best legacy of the communist era.

Trainline charges a $43 change fee after train was canceled

When Neale Gonsalves’ train trip from Stockport, England, to London is canceled, he rebooks on another train. But Trainline, his ticket agency, charges him a $43 ticket change fee. Is that allowed?

Ays Garcia in Village Theatre's production of "Cinderella," which closes Jan. 29 in Everett. (Angela Sterling)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Village Theatre’s production of “Cinderella” closes Jan. 29 in Everett.

not for print
Fruit tree season is upon us. Choose wisely

Unlike growing veggies, fruit trees are a long-term investment, so make sure you start out on the right foot.

A snapping sound in her calf muscle sent her to urgent care. What happened next, involved a lot of sitting. (Jennifer Bardsley)
This injury changed me from a ‘human-doing’ to a ‘human-being’

A painful torn calf muscle doesn’t require surgery — just a LOT of rest. So pass the Advil and the TV remote.

The GPP for next Tuesday, January 24th is Galanthus elwesii, commonly called giant snowdrop, and the image credit goes to Richie Steffen.
Great Plant Pick: Giant snowdrops

This bulb flowers early — as in right now. It also rewards gardeners with a honey-like fragrance.

How do we teach our children to be mindful consumers?

A few ground rules, on screen time especially, will help adults raise kids with the capacity to amuse themselves.

Many of those who fought for Irish independence were held or executed in Kilmainham Gaol.
These are a few of Rick Steves’ favorite things to do in Dublin

Visiting Trinity College, Kilmainham Gaol and more in Ireland’s capital city.

With a hurricane on the way, are these tickets now worthless?

Char Collins has to cancel flights from Minneapolis to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after a hurricane threatens her destination wedding. Will she have to throw away her airline tickets, or can she reuse them?

The 2023 Cadillac XT4 five-passenger compact luxury SUV is available in three different trim levels.
2023 Cadillac XT4 is handsome, roomy and agreeable on the road

The compact luxury SUV has two new paint colors and adds some driver assistance features as standard.