The Washington State Wine Commission (WSWC) – the body representing all wineries in the state – has announced the latest AVA (American Viticultural Area) approved for Washington, named Royal Slope.
It spans 63,288ha and is situated wholly within the Columbia Valley AVA.
Royal Slope is the state’s 15th AVA and it is located to the south of the Ancient Lakes AVA, with the Wahluke Slope AVA to its north.
The area encompasses Frenchman Hills, a 50km long east-west ridge with a gentle to medium-steep south-facing slope. More than 20 varieties of grapes are currently planted over 770ha within Royal Slope.
‘Many of our wineries and grape growers have been championing the terroir of Royal Slope for a long time, so it’s thrilling for them to be able to put an official AVA name on the bottle,’ commented Steve Warner, president of the WSWC.
To qualify as an AVA, a wine grape-growing region must be distinguishable by features such as climate, soil, elevation and physical features.
‘The AVA is something of an island geographically that is surrounded on all four sides by very different lands,’ said Dr Alan Busacca, who co-wrote the AVA petition with Dr Richard Rupp.
The majority of the area’s soils are formed of windblown silts or loess. The Royal Slope area has an average vineyard elevation of 400m, compared to the Wahluke Slope AVA just 25km to the south, which is at about 180m. This elevation difference leads to cooler night time temperatures and slightly lower day time temperatures than lower, warmer areas.
‘The area of the AVA is large enough that the variation in soils, slopes and aspect allows for a wide range of grape varieties to be matched to specific sites, soils, and training methods, producing wine grapes of exceptional quality and distinction,’ adds Busacca.
‘In a short period of time, vineyards like Stillwater Creek, Lawrence, Frenchman Hills and more have been producing wines that are absolutely rocking people’s worlds. Royal Slope has jumped onto the wine map very quickly based on exceptional fruit character and quality.’