Columbia Valley

Columbia Valley AVA Map

Location: The Columbia Valley AVA is a very large growing region with 11 million acres of land in total. Most of Columbia Valley and its six sub-appellations lie in Washington State, with a small section in Oregon stretching from The Dalles to Milton-Freewater. The region is 185 miles wide and 200 miles long.

Wine history: On the Oregon side, the Columbia Valley wine history dates back to the early 1900s, when settlers planted the area's first vineyard on a steep, southward-sloping hill near the small town of The Dalles. These Zinfandel vines, which are now more than 100 years old, still produce wine grapes at what is today known as The Pines 1852 Vineyard, whose vintner revitalized the land in the early 1980s. Around the same time, as the Washington side of the Columbia Valley appellation began to flourish with large-scale wineries, reputable winemakers started tagging the small Oregon side as an excellent location for high-quality wine grapes. The appellation became official in 1984.

Climate: The Columbia Valley has a largely Continental High Desert Climate. The hot days promote slow, even ripening, while the cool nights ensure that grapes retain their natural acidity. The area receives just 6 to 8 inches of annual rainfall, making supplemental irrigation a necessity throughout the region.

Soils: Roughly 15,000 years ago a series of tremendous ice age floods (dubbed the Missoula Floods) deposited silt and sand over the area. These deposited sediments, along with wind-blown loess sediment, make up the area's present-day soils, which are well drained and ideal for grapevines.

Topography: The Columbia Valley is a huge area covering 11 million acres. Mostly, the Columbia Valley lies on the Columbia River Plateau and encompasses the valleys formed by the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Walla Walla, Snake and Yakima rivers. Mountain ranges border the Columbia Valley region on the west and north, while the Columbia River acts roughly as a boundary to the south, and the Snake River near Idaho acts as the border to the east.

Predominant varieties

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon blanc
  • Riesling
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Semillon
  • Pinot gris
  • Chenin blanc
  • Syrah

While you're here...

The Columbia Valley appellation dips across the Columbia River from Washington and into the eastern part of the Gorge near the town of The Dalles, Oregon, which overlooks the river and provides ideal conditions for windsurfing and kite boarding, as well as excellent walleye and sturgeon fishing. In spring, the area's 6,000 acres of sweet cherry trees come into full blossom, making a beautiful sight to see. Culturally, the area is home to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum, where visitors can learn about the area's natural, Native American and pioneer history, including Lewis and Clark and The Oregon Trail. Also nearby is the charming river front town of Hood River and, of course, the majestic Mt. Hood, which is home to four ski resorts and offers North America's longest ski season and biggest night-skiing area. It's a great place to learn to ski or snowboard, or to go sledding or snowshoeing at one of the many sno-parks.

Below are some links to help you plan your trip:


Columbia Valley Winery Association

The arid soil, warm days, and cool nights of the Columbia Valley provide the perfect climate for growing world-class wine grapes.  Whether you are looking for a small boutique winery or one of the largest enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and friendly staff. 

Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association

America's Most Unique Wine Region, the Columbia Gorge Growing Region (AVA) 
is located less than an hour east of the Portland area through some of the most amazingly scenic areas in the Northwest.

Travel Oregon - Columbia Valley Page

The mighty Columbia invites windsurfing, sailing, parasailing and hang-gliding across itself. And when the day is done, be sure to enjoy the charming towns, outstanding wines, hand-crafted beers and spirits, and hot tubs of Mt. Hood's endless cabins.

Featured Content

  • It's back!

    Check a case of Oregon wine for free on Alaska Airlines. Learn More »

  • Wine Region of the Year!

    Oregon honored in 2013! Learn More »

  • Oregon Wine Experience App

    The app is available on iTunes for iPad only. Learn More »

  • Oregon Wine Country Plates!

    Oregon is the first in the nation to sell Wine Country license plates. Learn More »

Jun 2015

Clink! A Taste of Oregon Wine at Linfield College Oregon Wine Historical Archive

June 1, 2015 | Location

Due to the overwhelming response to Clink! A Taste of Oregon Wine, the Oregon Historical Society has developed a traveling version of the exhibition to travel the state.
Learn More »

Regional Associations Nearby

Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association

Walla Walla Wine Alliance

Get in on the OWB Social Conversation

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4640 SW MACADAM AVENUE, SUITE 240, PORTLAND, OR 97239 | PHONE: 503.228.8336 | FAX: 503.228.8337