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melted, their flows sporadically blocked by ice dams then suddenly released in a series of floods that continued for 2,000 years. The region’s grape-growing history is just a speck in time by comparison. The first wine grapes were planted less than 35 years ago. Grape growing on a commercial scale didn’t begin until the late 1990s when Chateau Ste. Michelle began contracting with local farmers. Ancient Lakes was approved as the state’s 13th AVA last November. There are only about six commercial growers. Vineyards total only about 1,700 acres, a tiny portion of a designated area nearly 100 times that size. Much of the AVA is already planted with other crops. The flat land, with richer soils and access to irrigation water is already taken, some of it by more valuable crops like apples and cherries. Those in the industry do expect vineyards to expand, however, due to the quality of their fruit and the unique character of resulting wines. “I can taste tank after tank of Riesling and the ones from here just stand out,” said Ryan Flanagan, Ancient Lakes vineyard manager for Milbrandt Vineyards and his family”s Ryan Patrick Vineyards. Milbrandt Vineyards farms about 1,100 acres of grapes in the area and is by far the largest wine Ryan Flanagan grape grower in is Ancient Lakes the AVA. Jones of vineyard manager Washington has for Milbrandt about 300 acres. Vineyards and his family Ryan Patrick Both Milbrandt Vineyards. and Jones also farm more than 1,000 acres of vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA near Mattawa. White Heron Cellars, Cave B Estate Winery, Ryan Patrick Estate Vineyards and Beaumont Cellars farm smaller amounts of land in the area. Many of the state’s best-known wineries outside of the area source their September / October 2013

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Foothills Magazine Sep-Oct 2013  

The premier lifestyle magazine for Wenatchee and North Central Washington

Foothills Magazine Sep-Oct 2013  

The premier lifestyle magazine for Wenatchee and North Central Washington

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