QUINCY - Wine hailing from the Quincy area now has a special distinction after the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Region was officially recognized as Washington's 13th American Viticultural Area.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) established the new viticultural area, after approving a petition made by Joan Davenport, a professor at Washington State University; Quincy wineries and the Port of Quincy.
Their decision was published in the Federal Register recently.
The TTB defines a viticultural area for American wine as a grape-growing region having distinguishing features.
The new AVA covers more than 162,000 acres in Grant, Douglas and Kittitas counties. According to the Federal Register, 1,399 acres within the new AVA are dedicated to six commercially-producing vineyards.
The new viticultural area lies entirely within the existing Columbia Valley viticultural area.
Cameron Fries, owner of White Heron Cellars west of Quincy, said he has been pushing for the Ancient Lakes distinction for about seven years.
"This area is not really known as a wine area," he said. "And this shines a flashlight on us."
TTB establishes viticultural areas to allow wine producers a way to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers a method of identifying wines they may purchase.
Under TTB regulations, 80 percent of the fruit has to come from the viticultural area a wine label says it does.
For example, said Fries, wine that is made from fruit from both the new Ancient Lakes AVA and the Wahluke Slope AVA must be classified as Columbia Valley wine. However, wine made exclusively from Quincy vineyards can now carry the Ancient Lakes distinction.
Although the area's wineries are already within the Columbia Valley AVA, Fries said he wanted the region to gain further distinction.
According to Fries, all of Washington's wineries, except for the ones located in the Puget Sound, are technically located within the Columbia Valley AVA. Labeling wine as Ancient Lakes wine, will bring recognition to the vineyards in the area, he said.
Grapes grown in the Quincy area are very different than grapes grown in other regions of the Columbia Valley AVA, said Fries.
Wineries in the new AVA can begin labeling their wine with the Ancient Lakes geographic distinction on Nov. 19.