Lake Chelan Wine Valley History


It was out of dark times that something bright was born. The Lake Chelan Wine Valley as we now know came to life as a vision of a few people out of the dim light of the late 1990’s when apple prices plummeted. A few years of hard times got the ambition flowing for something different.

In those early years there were only two, Steve Kludt and Bob Christopher who were native orchardists and early partners in vineyards and the Lake Chelan Winery. They were not the first to plant grapes in the Lake Chelan Valley as historical records account for vineyards in the valley as early as 1905.

Even others who are well known now in our valley and the wine business had planted test plots of grapes as early as 1993 to learn about the potential of vine sustainability within the valley. But it was Kludt and Christopher who put a plan into action. Not only did they plant vineyards and open a winery, they inspired and educated people to look into wine grape growing and the potential for the Lake Chelan Valley, once the premier producer of Washington State apples to strive to become the same for Washington State wine grapes.

They organized the first association of wine grape growers, what later became the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance and the Lake Chelan Wine Valley. They also held meetings, planted test blocks of wine grapes, hosted wine and vineyard consultants for everyone’s benefit, made small amounts of wine for friends and family and openly shared their knowledge. But the most important thing they did was inspire and house passion, a passion everyone involved in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley now shares and is easy to see.

Now over 30 wineries and tasting rooms call the Lake Chelan Valley their home and it is likely you call one of their wineries your home as well or soon will. Each year a couple new wineries and tasting rooms join the wine alliance with no end for something new and exciting in sight. We all offer something a little bit different, but we all overflow with the passion that was ignited nearly 20 years ago.