Wine grapes were planted in the Lake Chelan valley over 100 years ago. The first production vineyards were planted in the spring of 1998 by Bob Christopher and Steve and Bobbi Kludt, who both took out apple orchard acreage and planted wine grapes. In 2000, the Kludt Family licensed and bonded the first winery in Chelan County.
Soon thereafter talented winemakers and vineyardists made their way to the Lake Chelan valley to capitalize on the long growing season, sun-drenched days, and lake-cooled nights which are perfect for growing wine grapes.
Acres Located Seven Miles Along the Easternmost Shores of Lake Chelan
Acres of Total Vineyard Coverage
Wineries & Tasting Rooms
Interesting Facts About the Lake Chelan AVA
The Lake Chelan American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the 11th AVA in Washington State. The AVA status was granted on May 30, 2009. It encompasses the southernmost and easternmost areas of the lake and the surrounding land that are at or below 2,000 feet in elevation. The AVA begins with the town of Chelan and continues up-lake for 12 miles. From an elevation standpoint, you are in the AVA if you can dump a bucket of water and it rolls towards Lake Chelan.
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.
Great Soil Grows Great Grapes
Major Soil Types
Pumiceous gravelly sandy loam, heavily influenced by glaciation from the Continental Ice Sheet and volcanic activity from nearby Glacier Peak (42 miles distant)
Growing Degree Days (>50° F)
3,051 – this compares to Red Mountain (3,212), Walla Walla (2,858), Yakima Valley (2,606), Wahluke Slope (3,075) and Columbia Gorge (3,200)
Unique & Unusual Varieties in the Valley
Muscadelle du Boirdelois
Major Varietals Grown
Pinot Noir—24 acres
Pinot Gris—15 acres
Cabernet Franc—12 acres
Cabernet Sauvignon—11 acres