21 Best Columbia Valley Wine For Every Wine Lover

columbia valley wine

Looking for a wine that is both affordable and delicious? Look no further than the Columbia Valley.

This wine-growing region in Washington State might be one of the most underrated wine regions in the US. But it is home to some of the best wines in the country and offers something for everyone.

Whether you’re a wine expert or just starting out, we’ve got you covered with our list of the 21 best Columbia Valley Washington wines.

Table of Contents

What are the Best Columbia Valley Wines Under $25?

columbia valley wine

From one of the largest wineries in the world, this Riesling is a great introduction to the Columbia Valley. It’s light, slightly sweet, refreshing, and well-balanced.

Tasting Notes: Peach, apple, apricot, honey, citrus, minerals

columbia valley wine

Columbia Valley’s dry soil is quite similar to that of Germany’s Mosel Valley. Therefore, producing similar white wines. And this is an off-dry Riesling that is well-balanced with a crisp acidity that makes it perfect for pairing with food.

Tasting Notes: Pear, green apple, peach, minerals, lemon

Gramercy Cellars Viognier

This Viognier is a great example of the varietal from the Columbia Valley. It reminds me of a dry Riesling from Germany combined with a taste like white bordeaux style blends. Perfect for a hot summer day.

Tasting Notes: Apricot, pear, stone, lemon, peach

columbia valley wine

A collaboration between Dr. Loosen, a German vineyard, and Chateau Ste. Michelle to make a premium Riesling from Washington grapes. This Off-dry Riesling is a great example of the style that Washington State is known for. And that is to compliment rather than overpower food pairings.

Tasting Notes: Green apple, peach, pear, citrus, lime, minerals, honey

Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

This Cabernet is a great example of a classic Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s medium to full-bodied with rich fruit flavors and soft tannins.

Tasting Notes: Oak, vanilla, blackberry, blueberry, plum, leather, earthy

columbia valley wine

The 2017 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon is yet another crowd favorite, with fruit-forward but robust notes.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, plum, vanilla, oak, tobacco, cherry

columbia valley wine

This classic Meritage (Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon) is complex and layered with dark fruit aromas.

Tasting Notes: Oak, vanilla, plum, cherry, chocolate

Kiona Signature Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Red Mountain AVA is producing some very nice Cabernet Sauvignons. And this Cab demonstrates why the region has a reputation for being a up and coming regions for this varietal.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, plum, cherry, oak

Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

This renowned winery is producing this Cabernet using handpicked and carefully aged fruit. It has a velvety texture and rich blackberry and black cherry notes.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, black cherry, plum, oak, vanilla

From the Horse Heaven Hills region, this affordable Cabernet has great value. Easy to drink, fruit-forward, with a smooth taste.

Tasting Notes: Chocolate, oak, blackberry, plum, earthy, leather

L'Ecole N° 41 Merlot wine for beginners

L’Ecole N° 41 is one of Washington State’s top Merlot producers, and this estate vineyard blend is a good representation. The earthiness and minerality of the basalt soil from Ferguson is complemented by the old-world elegance and structure of Seven Hills Vineyard.

Tasting Notes: Plum, blackberry, leather, oak, vanilla

columbia valley wine

Another Columbia Crest wine at an affordable price, this wine has distinctive Syrah aromas of plum and smoke.

Tasting Notes: Smoke, plum, blackberry, pepper, oak

Borne of Fire Cabernet Sauvignon

A good value Columbia Valley Cab that has many wine critics’ approval and praise.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, cherry, herbs, tobacco

What are the Best Columbia Valley Wines Under $50?

columbia valley wine

The Bordeaux-inspired winery, DeLille was the first winery in the state to focus on Bordeaux-style blends. Sourcing superior grapes and varietals from distinct regions to create fantastic wine blends.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, plum, oak, vanilla, chocolate, black cherry

columbia valley wine

A great value, single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from one of Washington’s most iconic wineries. Cold Creek Vineyards has been producing high-quality wines since the 1970s. It is one of Washington’s oldest and most well-known vineyards. This Cabernet has great structure, concentrated fruit, and drink like a big California Cab.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, plum, oak, vanilla, leather

Gravel Bar Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

This full-bodied Cabernet is from the Red Mountain AVA. And it is aged in French and American oak to produce a fantastic red wine with plenty of flavor.

Tasting Notes: Black cherry, blackberry, oak, leather, olive, smoke

Matthews Claret 2019

In British, Claret is a term that refers to red Bordeaux wine. Bordeaux’s red wines are primarily composed of Cabernet and Merlot. This Claret has a palate that is ripe and dense dark fruits with a great velvety texture.

Tasting Notes: Black currant, blackberry, vanilla, strawberry, plum

columbia valley wine

This Cabernet was created from grapes grown by some of Red Mountain’s top producers and is named for the Canvasback duck, which is native to the Pacific Flyway. This juicy and alluring wine begins with the aromas of ripe strawberry and cherries. It has a plush texture and tannins that are smooth and soft.

Tasting Notes: Black cherry, strawberry, vanilla, plum, leather, earthy

Mullen Road Cellars Red Blend 2016

It’s a well-balanced, attractive red blend with excellent tannins and plenty to enjoy. This wine is delicious, silky, and multilayered with flavors. Its wonderful texture continues through to a lengthy, lifted finish. You should be able to age for at least 8-10 years.

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, plum, oak, vanilla, smoke, leather

Owen Roe Cabernet Franc

From Yakima Valley, this Cabernet Franc is maybe not the best introduction to this grape. A unique wine that you can age until 2029.

Tasting Notes: Black cherry, oak, vanilla, tobacco, herbaceous, pepper

This wine is a red blend from some of the oldest vines in Red Mountain district. This is an approachable red wine that would go well with a wide range of meats.

Tasting Notes: Vanilla, earthy, blackberry, plum, black cherry

Where is the Columbia Valley Region?

Columbia Valley lies in the Columbia River Plateau. And runs through much of the central and southern state of Washington. Plus a small section crossing into the northern part of Oregon. It is east of the Cascade Mountains and south of Canada. 

Columbia Valley AVA was established in 1984. The Columbia Valley wine region is the largest American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Washington State. Its landmass is 1/3 of the state of Washington.

Columbia Valley AVA has over 51,000 acres planted with vines and more than 900 wineries.

The climate in the Columbia Valley is warm and dry during the growing season which is ideal for grapevines. The long days and cool nights of the growing season allow the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. This results in wines with intense flavors and bright acidity.

Columbia Valley AVA is home to some of Washington’s most iconic wineries such as Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Crest, and Canoe Ridge Vineyard.

What are the Most Popular Columbia Valley Varietals?

The most popular Columbia Valley varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Syrah, and Chardonnay.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted grape in the region. The warm climate and long days of the growing season create wines with intense flavors and bright acidity.
  • Merlot is another popular grape in the region. The red wines made from Merlot tend to be softer and more approachable than Cabernet.
  • Riesling grows so well in the Columbia Valley because of the warm climate and long days. The grapes have plenty of time to ripen slowly and evenly, resulting in wines with intense flavors and bright acidity. Riesling is also a very versatile grape and can be made into both sweet and dry wines.
  • Syrah is a variety that thrives in the warm climate of the Columbia Valley. The wines made from Syrah are often full-bodied with intense flavors.
  • Chardonnay is the most popular white grape in the United States. The Chardonnays from Columbia Valley are either unoaked or oaked, with rich and creamy with notes of vanilla.

What are the Columbia Valley AVAs?

Here are some of Columbia Valley’s distinctive sub AVAs:
  • Red Mountain
  • Yakima Valley
  • Lake Chelan
  • Ancient Lakes
  • Rattlesnake Hills
  • Walla Walla Valley
  • Naches Heights
  • Wahluke Slope
  • Horse Heaven Hills
  • Snipes Mountain
  • White Bluffs (added in 2021)
  • The Burn (added in 2021)

Columbia Valley vs Napa Valley

What are the differences between these two wine regions? This may come as a surprise but the Columbia Valley AVA is larger than the Napa Valley AVA region. And the Columbia Valley AVA has been producing wine for over 100 years, while Napa Valley only began to produce wine in the 1970s.

Climate

The climate in the Columbia Valley is warmer and drier than the Napa Valley. Columbia Valley lies in a desert with a lot of sunshine, which may come as a surprise since it’s so close to Seattle, Washington. However, the clouds rolling off the Pacific are blocked by the mountains surrounding Columbia Valley creating a rain shadow. 

The average annual rainfall is averages 7 inches, while Napa’s average annual rainfall is 25 inches

So this intense sunshine along with minimal rainfall of the region result in more concentrated fruit with flavorful wines.

The climate in Napa Valley is particularly remarkable. The summers are warm, the winters are mild, and it only rains for a few months of the year. This gives the vines a long growing season. 

Napa Valley’s climate is cooler and more humid than Columbia Valley. The valley is protected by the mountains on two sides, which means that it’s often foggy and cool. This creates a longer growing season, resulting in wines with balanced acidity and complex flavors.

Soil

The soil in the Columbia Valley is also different than the Napa Valley. The loess soils of the Columbia Valley give wines from this region a unique flavor profile that cannot be found elsewhere.

Napa is also unique because they have one of the most diverse soil types in the world. This includes volcanic soils, which are among the most fertile soils on earth. And this is what gives the wines from this region their distinctive and incredible flavor.

Cost

The wines in the Columbia Valley are also less expensive than the wines in Napa Valley. This makes it a great place to explore different grape varietals and styles of wine without breaking the bank.

Summary

The Columbia Valley is a large and diverse Washington wine country that has something for everyone. From the iconic wineries to the unique terroir, the Columbia Valley is a great place to explore Washington wines. And with so many different grape varietals to choose from, there’s sure to be a wine for everyone.

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