The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade has approved the Horse Heaven Hills AVA placing it as Washington's seventh American Viticultural Area, or also known as "appellation." This 570,000-acre area in Klickitat, Yakima and Benton counties starts just south of the Yakima Valley and stretches to the Columbia River. It's important to know that the Horse Heaven Hills is within the Columbia Valley appellation like the Yakima, Walla Walla, and Red Mountain appellations. So far over 6,000 acres of wine grapes have been planted in the Horse Heaven Hills, which is about 20 percent ofWashington's total acreage. Pine Ridge Winery in Napa Valley, CA recently purchased 300 acres of undeveloped land in the Horse Heaven Hills.
The Horse Heaven Hills are known for low rainfall (just 3 to 8 inches per year), sandy soils and constant winds. Like the Walla Walla Valley AVA, the Horse Heaven soil was deposited approximately 15,000 years ago from the great Missoula Floods. The floods repeatedly dropped loads of silt on the rocky volcanic base.
Many outstanding vineyards make the Horse Heaven Hills their home - Champoux Vineyards, Alder Ridge Vineyards, Canoe Ridge Vineyard (owned by the international Diageo Chateau and Wines Co.), and Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard (owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates). Washington's largest winery, the beautiful Columbia Crest, happens to be in the new appellation, as well. Several premiere wineries from the Walla Walla Valley also use grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills - Bergevin Lane, Forgeron Cellars, L'Ecole No. 41, Three Rivers, and Woodward Canyon.