Sponsored by Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center
You can thank its stunning namesake for the expansive wine culture (or more precisely “viticulture”) of the Lake Chelan Valley. Its so-called “lake effect” climate—with warm days and cool evenings—allows for a longer growing season and reduces the risk of frosty freezes in the winter months. In addition, the glaciers that formed the 50.5-mile Lake Chelan left behind soil packed with minerals and nutrients amenable to producing high quality wine grapes. In 2009, Lake Chelan Valley was designated as an official American Viticulture Area. Today, more than 30 wineries call the valley home, including boutique wineries from entrepreneurial farmers and vintners harvesting their dreams in a quaint, charming locale.
Courtesy of Succession Wines
One of the wineries you should pay a visit to on your trip to the area is Succession Wines operated by Brock and Erica Lindsay. The aptly named Succession was founded after the Lindsays lost their home in the Carlton Complex wildfires. Following that tragedy, they took stock of what was truly important to them and realized that family came first so they packed up and moved to Lake Chelan Valley where they welcomed their second child and opened their winery. They named the winery “succession,” as a reminder that there is an order—a succession—to life and the environment. The natural response to a disturbance, such as a fire, is rebirth.
Succession Wines has won numerous awards, and, as a result, they’ve sold out of every vintage they’ve produced, says tasting room manager Christina White. White can trace generations of her own family to the Chelan area, so although she didn’t grow up here, it feels like home to her—as does Succession Wines. “I’ve been with Succession from almost the beginning. Because it’s a young, small company, I’ve helped with so many aspects of the winery—from winemaking to event planning. I really feel like a member of their family,” she says. In fact, a barrel White made is slated for a future release.
In the summer months, the winery offers live entertainment as background music for your tastings. “Our tasting room is an indoor-outdoor environment with a patio and large glass door. You can come for the tastings, visit with friends on the patio or just sit back and enjoy the music,” says White.
Courtesy of Rio Vista Winery
Rio Vista Wines
Located on the Columbia River, Rio Vista Wines is the brainchild of Jan and John Sr. Little, and is operated with help from his son, John Jr. The senior Little grew up on a farm in Port Angeles, and went on to become a teacher, orchard owner and carpenter. Following retirement in 2004, he and his wife moved to Rio Vista full-time to launch their next career: vintners. His son graduated from the viticulture program at Walla Walla Community College in 2014 and works alongside his father in the vineyard and winery.
“Originally, we were apple orchardists. Growing fruit has always been our passion. When the apple orchards were no longer a part of our lives, we missed farming so much that grapes were the next logical step. From there, thoughts of a winery were spurred into existence and here we are today, 13 years later and loving every minute of it,” says Little. “We are fortunate to be a part of one of the most inclusive and helpful AVAs where everyone is rooting for you and promoting your successes.”
The 10-acre estate includes 7 acres of 11 distinct red and white varietals. “Eighty percent of the grapes we use for winemaking are grown by us. The other 20% we source locally from other vineyards in the Chelan area,” says Little. Rio Vista produces approximately 1,200 cases of wine annually.
In addition to the estate, the winery’s Rio Vista at the Cabin in downtown Manson, offers a selection of its award-winning wines, and the estate offers events such as winemaker dinners and summer outdoor concerts. The winery is both kid- and dog-friendly.
Courtesy of Tildio Winery
You never know when your life is going to change dramatically. For Katy and Milum Perry it was the day they met, riding a chairlift at Stevens Pass Ski Resort. The next year, they began planting the 9-acre vineyard at Tildio, and four years—and some wedding vows—later, they opened their tasting room. Katy studied enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis and has worked for Robert Mondavi, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Geyser Peak Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Milum graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a degree in economics. That combination of wine know-how and business sense has led to the winery’s success.
Tildio is the third-oldest winery in the valley and one of three in the valley with a female winemaker. Approximately half of its wines are estate (made from grapes grown on the property), the others from the AVA or central Washington.
“Our winemaker and her husband have been making wine for almost 30 years. All of us at Tildio share a passion for wine and for helping people have a good time enjoying it,” says tasting room manager Mya Archamboult. “The Lake Chelan area is a fantastic place to live and work….There is a freedom here to make the wines we want to make and not be held to tradition or custom. It makes for fun, expressive, exciting wines.”
The winery will have its patio open all summer and will be tasting estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc and a Tempranillo/Cab Franc Rose. “They are summer in a bottle,” says Archamboult.
Lake Chelan is filled with intoxicating destinations. These are just three. To get a full taste of the area, visit lakechelan.com.