On “The Rocks”

Wine made in the USA is grown primarily within American Viticultural Areas (AVA).  It has recently come to my attention, in the tasting room, that many wine drinkers aren’t familiar with this system, similar to the European designated areas in each country where wine is made.  The Federal Government, via the TTB, has the power to approve the suggested areas.  It also provides guidelines for label usage that wineries must follow; labels won’t be approved if they don’t meet all of the rules.

Basalt cobbles and grape vines.
The basalt cobbles run very deep in this area dubbed “The Rocks District of Milton Freewater”.

The Walla Walla Wine Alliance lead a tour of the newest AVA, a sub AVA of Walla Walla AVA, called “The Rocks District of Milton Freewater” for members of the Alliance, so local industry people.  This is a distinctive AVA in the US as it is defined solely by the soil type in the area.  It isn’t very large, but it has already caused some consternation for wine makers that use the fruit as it is located in Oregon, within the dual state AVA of Walla Walla Valley, which is itself a sub AVA of the dual state Columbia Valley AVA; the TTB approved the Rocks District February of 2015. As a wine has to be finished within the state the AVA is in this presents an interesting conundrum for the Washington State wineries that claim estate vineyards in the Rocks District – will the TTB consider making changes to the existing rules or will Willamette Valley wineries begin using the fruit as much as possible to claim the new AVA (yes, with the scores wines off of these vineyards receive make them very valuable)?  Time will tell.

Basalt cobbles and vineyards with people.
Walla Walla Wine Alliance brought a bunch of us out for a tour of a few of “The Rocks District” vineyards – very informative.

It was a lovely, not too hot August morning to be out in the field.  I came away with some new information and a better idea of what is already growing in the AVA.  If you are interested, there is a site listing the vineyards and information for grape growers to make informed decisions about purchasing grapes: Everyvine, under vineyards and open the search box for Walla Walla or The Rocks District of Milton Freewater, of any off of the list to see what is available.  It is a great tool!

See for yourself why this new AVA is called “The Rocks”!  Cheers!

Umbrella covered patio tables with people eating lunch.
A delicious lunch in the shade of Watermill Winery after our morning tour.

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