Follows is a list of things we want you to know (in no particular order):
- FACT: Seattle has less rain during the grape growing season than Burgundy, France.
- What "Estate" on a wine label means.
- Local wine (local to Seattle)
- Local to Seattle (part 2 -- the 100 mile diet)
- FACT: Seattle has less rain during
the grape growing season than many of the classic growing
areas of France.
Growing Wine Grapes in Puget Sound
by Steve Snyder at the Puget Sound WineGrowers
website (pswg.org). The first section includes a climate
comparison including rainfall for Bordeaux, Burgundy,
Champagne, Seattle and others with charts.
- What "Estate" on a wine label means.
The word "Estate" indicates that the vineyard is controlled by
the winery (owned or leased) and that the vineyard is within
50 miles of the winery. If a blend, this must be true for all
vineyards contributing to this bottle.
On the other hand, "Estate" can be used in the name of the
business, with no implications, it's just a name, for example
"Henry Estate" in Oregon.
- Local wine (local to Seattle):
Perennial Vintners (PV) holds a tie position with
Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery
(BIVW) for closest vineyard to
downtown Seattle. We are about 8 miles as the crow files
from downtown. The next closest commercial vineyards
are (milages approximate):
At this writing (Summer 2007), there are no other commercial
vineyards less than 40 miles from Seattle. Yet there
are about a hundred wineries located in the PS AVA...
- Until 2011, Perennial and BIVW were the only wineries
that produce wines exclusively from Puget Sound
American Viticultural Area (PS AVA) grapes.
- A few others (about a dozen) produce some wines
from PS AVA grapes, and some wines from grapes trucked some
300+ miles across the Cascade Mountains from Eastern
Washington. (See Puget Sound
Winegrowers for listing of most wineries that produce a
western WA wine.)
- As of 2011, PV has joined this latter group, making
some PS AVA wines, and some with grapes imported from
eastern WA state.
- Most all the others produce wines solely from Eastern
Would you consider coffee from a Seattle roaster (assuming
you're in the area Seattle like me) to be a local product? Of
course not, it's impossible to grow coffee beans at the
latitude of Seattle; the beans were grown thousands of miles
away, and shipped here for processing. This is
distinctly not a local product. I encourage you to
buy your coffee from a small local business (I do whenever
possible) as opposed to a national chain if possible, but make
no mistake -- the product itself is not local.
When you see a wine in the Seattle area that is presented as
local, pay careful attention -- the
grapes (which is what wine is all about) are likely
to not have been grown locally; only the
wine processing was done locally.
I do not wish to denigrate wines made in the Seattle area from
grapes grown 300+ miles away un any fashion. They are likely
to be fantastic wines, they simply should not be considered to
Puget Sound Fresh
Look for the Puget Sound Appellation Grown sticker. This is
your guarantee of a true PS AVA wine. Annually during
November, they have a really neat promotion where you can
pledge to eat local for Thanksgiving. I'd encourage your
- Local to Seattle (part 2 -- the 100 mile diet):
The 100 Mile Diet is
a very simple concept -- eat locally produced
food when possible, namely foods produced within one hundred
miles of your home. Please see the previous section
for more detail; although there are hundreds of wines
manufactured in the Seattle area proper, very few of
them are made from grapes that were grown locally.
This topic could easily be pages and pages long, but we'll try
to be brief.
Wine can be Organic, meaning that no non-organic means
were used in processing the wine. This is
highly unusual as almost all wines have sulfites added to
preserve them. This is unrelated to whether the grapes
used were Organically grown.
Organically grown grapes, Sustainable farming,
Biodynamic, and Least-toxic are all vineyard
practices. These each have their strict rules, but
you'll have to decide what's important to you, thus which
products you choose to buy. The important thing to note is
that to become certified as adhering to any of these practices
takes at least 3 years. A new designation has appeared
recently of "in transition" meaning that the vineyard is
partway through this process.
Least-Toxic: As an example, it is possible to kill
weeds with boiling water or steam -- very environmentally
friendly, and with no residuals like salmon stream runoff.
However, when you consider the energy consumed in heating all
that water, the "carbon footprint" may be worse than would be
using a specific targeted weed killer. And what about using a
tractor to do mechanical weed removal? Again, the "carbon
footprint" of fossil fuels consumed by the tractor may be
alternatives -- it's all what you choose as the
At Perennial Vintners our vineyard is maintained in a manner
that would pass the State of Washington organic certification,
although we have not gone through the certification process.
(Remember, it takes 3 years.) We may someday complete the WA
State Organic certification process in the future. (The
packet of paperwork is on my desk -- it's over 1/4"
thick, 37 pages!)