Washington's Wine Industry: Past, Present, and Future.
In the past ten years, Washington's wine industry has gained substantial recognition world wide for growing premium wines. The Northwest state is now ranking with some of the finest regions of the world. Although it is still early in the farming of grapes in Washington, the Eastern portion of the state has seen tremendous increases in total acreage of wine grapes. This in turn has increased total output of wine itself. Now the wineries must find new and creative ways to sell this wine as growers rush to plant in premium sites and cash in on this promising and lucrative crop. .
Many factors contributing to this honor started millions of years ago when magma flows covered nearly all of Central and Eastern Washington. Later a massive glacier pushed southward from Canada to Idaho, damming the Clark Fork River. The waters of the Clark backed up high into the mountain valleys of Western Montana, forming Lake Missoula. Eventually, this glacial dam broke under its own force and created one of the world's greatest floods. These floods raced across the Columbia Valley and dammed up were Tri-Cities is located at today. This is when the precious sediment settled to the floor and patiently waited thousands of years to be utilized for its destiny, growing grapes (Meredith 15-24).
Shortly after Lewis and Clark explored the Columbia and Snake Rivers, Hudson's Bay Company established a trading center at Fort Vancouver, WA. It is believed that grape seeds imported from England by this company were the first grapes planted in Washington back in 1825. After 1847, most of Eastern Washington was closing to new .
settlement due to the Whitman Massacre and unstable relationships with the native Indians. For this reason, most new arrivals settled in the Puget Sound region or south in the Willamette Valley. One newcomer, named William Meek, planted Isabella, a white wine grape that immediately won an award at the 1859 California State Fair and perhaps started recognition for Washington's potential as a legitimate region for making wine (Irvine 37, 49).