The Columbia River gathers melt water from the Canadian Rockies and crosses the border into the United States without a passport or bothering to stop at customs. Once in Washington this mighty river curves to the west until it is forced southward by the Cascade Mountains. It parallels the mountains for awhile before turning again to the east on its way to the Tri-Cities.
This section of the river along the Cascades forms a unique micro-climate. Here the weather is dry yet the river provides abundant water for irrigation. As the river makes its way through canyons and coulees carved by massive ice age floods one can admire snow covered hills and mountains, thousands of feet higher in elevation. Thus the climate is affected by air movement through these abrupt elevation changes.
Currently the federal government is considering a petition by local wine grape growers to create an American Viticultural Area to be known as Ancient Lakes of the Columbia. The name refers both to the Ice Age floods that had such a dramatic effect in forming the region and to a group of lakes in Potholes Coulee.
Wineries and vineyards have been developing in what might be called some of the most spectacular landscape of Washington. Vineyards are literally planted on the edges of basalt cliffs and flood carved bluffs dropping hundreds of feet away from the vines. The two oldest wineries in the area trace their roots back to the 1980’s but in the last ten years three more wineries have opened up and are welcoming visitors to their tasting rooms.
Wine and food events are occurring with increasing regularity. Below is just a sampling of annual activities. One winery, Cave B Estate Winery, is located next door to The Cave B Inn & Spa Resort and the Gorge Amphitheater. In addition, wineries have events with live music and outstanding food at their facilities, many with beautiful views.
For more information on these events visit the individual winery websites links found here.