Why Lake Chelan is Washington’s Best Wine Country

Washington is home to some of the best wines in the world. But, with over a thousand wineries throughout Washington State, how do you know where to start your wine travel adventures?

For those looking for one of the best wine destinations in Washington Wine Country, the Lake Chelan Wine Valley is the perfect year-round choice. Let’s find out why.

The Beginnings of the Lake Chelan Wine Valley

Bob Christopher, who had previously farmed apple orchards, began planting wine grapes in the Lake Chelan region in 1998. Steve Kludt soon followed suit with his own trellised vineyard. In 2000, the Kludt family licensed and bonded the first winery in Chelan, Lake Chelan Winery.

Winegrowers and vintners from all over the world have flocked to Lake Chelan in recent years, attracted by the region’s ideal conditions for wine production: a long growing season, sunny days, and lake-cooled nights. Check out this list of Lake Chelan’s wineries that continue to grow in number every year.

Notable Characteristics

The Lake Chelan Wine Valley is located around picturesque Lake Chelan and offers travelers views of the lake and mountains from its vineyards. It has one of the longest lists of grape varieties found anywhere in Washington State, with 29 grape varietals including Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.

The Lake Chelan AVA spans a large portion of the lake both in length and width. However, the valley is still very sparsely populated, leaving miles between each winery, making for a remarkable personal tasting experience.

Lake Chelan is a sub-appellation of the larger Columbia Valley AVA, the largest AVA in Washington State. The Lake Chelan Wine Valley AVA was granted in 2009, with approximately 300 acres planted to wine grapes. It covers an area on both sides of the lake from Stehekin downstream 45 miles to Manson and includes over 30 wineries and tasting rooms.

What makes the Lake Chelan Wine Valley unique?

The Beautiful Lake

Lake Chelan view
A view of Lake Chelan

What you won’t find in any other Washington wine region is a stunning 55-mile long lake running right through the heart of the valley. Whether for swimming, fishing, boating, or even as a backdrop for gorgeous photos and memories, the lake is truly what makes Lake Chelan special.

In addition, The Chelan Valley is home to majestic views of rivers, mountains, and forests. The Columbia and Entiat Rivers are accessible from town making for great fishing, boating, swimming, and paddleboarding. Take in the jaw-dropping views of the Chelan Mountain Range (part of the North Cascades section of the Cascades Range) or take a hike on one of the many trails available throughout the valley.

Year-Round Beauty

Lake Chelan has four distinct seasons, each with its particular beauty and charm.

The winter months bring snowfall and cold temperatures to the area, allowing for great skiing along its slopes. In addition, annual winter events like Small Town Holidays and Lake Chelan Winterfest offer travelers the chance to participate in festive events, seasonal food and wine, and family-friendly activities. Couples can partake in a beautiful escape during February. Lake Chelan’s Month of Love touts creative pairings of red wine and chocolate at wineries and restaurants throughout Chelan and Manson.

Winter in Lake Chelan wine country
Winter in Lake Chelan wine country

Meanwhile, summer brings hot weather perfect for swimming and boating on Lake Chelan’s clean, crystal-clear waters. The town is bustling with live music, lawn games, water sports, and wine specials, fit for families and explorers looking for boundless recreation.

Fall is perhaps the most beautiful time of the year in this region, with its crisp air, scenic views, and amazing fall colors on display. Harvest season is in full swing, where you can pick flowers and produce from local farms, enjoy fall barrel tastings, and partake in month-long events like Haunted Manson.

Pumpkins at a Lake Chelan farm
Pumpkins at a Lake Chelan farm

And finally, spring is when all sorts of yummy produce come out to play like apples, pears, cherries, and so much more. Taste Chelan, Spring Bloom festival, and the Lake Chelan Wine & Jazz Festival are notable events for travelers to experience Lake Chelan during the beautiful spring season.

Friendly, Passionate People

Many of the business owners and residents were visitors once, but, after being hard-pressed to find a better place to live, they decided to make Lake Chelan their home. They fell in love with the four seasons, bountiful nature, and a strong sense of community. Now, they welcome tourists from all over the world for a chance to share the joy and peace the business owners and locals love and experience every day.

Plan a Trip to the Lake Chelan Wine Valley

With its stunning natural beauty, endless recreation, and small-town charm, the Lake Chelan Wine Valley is unmatched for delivering award-winning wine set in Washington’s paradise.

If you’d like to visit, but need help planning your trip to Washington’s wine country in Lake Chelan, reach out to us. We’d be happy to guide you to the region’s top wineries, restaurants, and stays.

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