Lake Chelan is the 11th AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Washington State. This designation is an appellation of origin granted by the Federal government (more specifically the TTB). An AVA is a area with unique climate, soil and physical features that distinguish it from surrounding areas. The idea is that what is produced within an AVA is specific to that place and would not be the same grown somewhere else.

Our AVA status was granted on May 30, 2009 because the Lake Chelan Wine Growers Association petitioned the TTB for this designation. It took more than four years to accumulate all of the geographic, historical, geological, climatic, and soil information and put that through the rigorous federal process. A great deal of work and energy was put forward in accomplishing this momentous status and our growers and winemakers in the valley are quite proud to be acknowledged in this way.

Our AVA is quite easily described in terms of boundaries. It encompasses the southernmost and easternmost areas of the lake and the surrounding land that are at or below 2,000 feet in elevation.

To make it a bit easier to understand, the AVA begins with the town of Chelan and continues uplake for12 miles. From an elevation standpoint, you are in the AVA if you could dump a bucket of water and it rolled towards Lake Chelan.

Learn more about the Washington AVA regions, click here.

A few facts about our AVA:

  • It is encompassed completely within the larger Columbia Valley AVA, but Lake Chelan has a higher elevation and more temperate climate than the more southern AVAs also contained within the Columbia Valley.
  • The 24,040-acre Lake Chelan AVA includes the southern and eastern portions of land surrounding the lake and shares a northern border with the Columbia Valley AVA.
  • Due to the ice age glaciers that formed Lake Chelan, the soil surrounding it has distinctive properties such as coarse, sandy sediment with notable amounts of quartz and mica, and these result in grapes with discernable textures, minerals, and nutrients.
  • The AVA is also distinguished by a significant “lake effect” that creates mild and favorable temperatures for surrounding areas, resulting in a longer growing season and a reduced risk of frost.
  • Grapes have been grown in the Chelan Valley since before the turn of the 20th century by a few Native Americans and a group of Italian immigrants. In 1949, the area produced grapes from 154 vineyard acres.