Puget Sound Viticulture Area – Vashon Winery


Since we’ve been working on the viticulture areas map for the Washington Wine Commission, I was inspired to go do a bit of wine tasting myself at Vashon Winery.

The winery is a small one, producing less than 600 cases of wine annually, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know their stuff. When asked how he got into wine making, owner Ron Irvine told me that his German grandmother and mother used to make homemade wine mostly from fruit such as raspberry and plum. Ron is also co-author of a book called “The Wine Project” which he published in 1997.

Ron says that Vashon Winery grapes are grown in both eastern and western Washington. Grapes grown in Puget Sound, or western Washington, produce more lighter, more fragrant aroma, especially in white wines. Additionally, the wines tend to be higher in tactic malice acid, because of the slower ripening process in the cooler climate.

Western Washington however, receives more rain than eastern Washington. The grapes can be harder to grow because of the chance of rain later in the season, which swells the grapes and dilutes the flavors of the wine. Therefore the majority of wine grapes are grown in eastern Washington where the climate (with 300 days of sun a year) is dry. It also has good fresh water sources for irrigation which is needed in the arid climate.

Understanding Washington’s climate was essential in creating the viticultural area map. We illustrated the climate differences across the state by choosing warmer, dryer looking colors for eastern Washington to reflect the little rainfall vs. the green that we chose for western Washington. The design challenge however, was finding a way to make the AVAs nested within the Columbia Valley AVA stand out while staying in the same warm hue.

On the backside of the map we created an infographic to tell more of the climate story. We wanted to show how the “rain shadow effect” created by the Olympic Mountains and Cascade Mountains creates the perfect climate for wine. 

Vashon Winery is situated in the state’s largest viticulture area, the Puget Sound AVA, that only produces less than 1% of the Washington wine. The white table wine I purchased is made from a blend of grapes from the Puget Sound.

Vashon Winery sells its wines in 40 wine shops and grocery stores, but you can also visit the winery on Vashon Island, or find the them selling bottles at the Vashon Saturday Market.

Thanks Vashon for the visit!



Written by Tarryn Lambert

Tarryn Lambert is an Interaction Designer at Ply Interactive. You can find her on Google+.

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