Before the research of two men, Walter Clore, and Chas Nagel, Washington did not have a wine industry. It had a small dessert wine and fortified wine industry, based solely on Concord grapes. California was the big wine making region and producer. And it was the giant producer, Ernest and Julio Gallo that helped educated the American wine drinking public.
For the state, everything changed in 1969. Legislative hearings were held in Seattle and Yakima, to determine whether the state’s protectionist wine laws should be overturned. Those laws made California wines (vines) illegal, allowing the Concord grape industry to dominate. It was a disincentive to grow varietal grapes and make fine wine.
The two Washington State University horticulturists, Clore and Nagel, told their lawmakers that they could no longer compete with California grapes that go into wine and jelly. They had been researching the potential of “vinifera” type grapes and grape issues in the Yakima Valley. Bottom line, Clore felt that Washington wines could compete with California wines in the fine wine market.
He was right, of course. Washington is located on the same latitude as many fine wine growing regions in Europe. In addition, Washington has a longer growing season, and more intense sunlight. And maybe best of all, Washington did not have California’s insects and vine diseases. The only negative was the number of days with temperatures below zero. Clore and his crew felt that Washington could actually grow better wines than their California competition.
Nagel then added his testimony, stating that in tasting comparisons, Washington wines were quite favorable with wines grown elsewhere. So, despite intense lobbying from California, the law changed here in Washington. Within just a few years, Washington had a hit with some Rieslings. All of a sudden, Walter Clore became the “Johnny Grapeseed” of the wine business. In addition, Clore has a wine book called, “The Wine Project”, which sounds like a good read.
We love our trips here. Last night, we celebrated our Anniversary at Lola. The co-owner even comped us three dishes! We feel very fortunate, though I am not a fan of braised carrots, or spanakopita. But the sheep’s cheese was outstanding. We look forward to another nice and sunny northwest day.