Ancient Lakes fascinates as young Washington wine region

Several of the Columbia Basin's Ancient Lakes near Quincy, Wash., are found in the canyon between Evergreen Vineyard and Ancient Lakes Vineyard, and both plantings belong to Milbrandt brothers.

Several of the Columbia Basin’s Ancient Lakes near Quincy, Wash., are found in the canyon between Evergreen Vineyard and Ancient Lakes Vineyard, and both plantings were established by the Milbrandt brothers. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Some of Washington’s oldest vines are in the state’s newest American Viticultural Area.

Vineyards planted in the 1970s are in the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, Washington’s 13th federally recognized AVA.

The Ancient Lakes, approved in 2012, is an area of about 160,000 acres around the North Central Washington communities of George and Quincy. About 1,600 acres of vineyards are planted, the oldest of which are at Cave B Cellars, a winery adjacent to the famous Gorge Amphitheater.

While the Ancient Lakes – completely within the Columbia Valley – is in an arid region of the state, much like the rest of Eastern Washington, yet it is most famous for its white wines, particularly Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. In fact, one of the state’s top vineyards – Evergreen – is in the Ancient Lakes.

The region is part of the Channeled Scablands, an area carved and shaped by the ancient ice age floods some 12,000 years ago. There are about 30 lakes in the area, hence the name.

Here are a dozen examples of wines from the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

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