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by Fred McMillin
President Thomas Jefferson wondered what was out west, since in 1803 the United States had added a vast new territory with the Louisiana Purchase. So did his secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, who asked to lead an expedition to find out. Scary! He invited another former-Army friend, Captain William Clark, to assist him in discovering the unknown, and to look at its economic potential.
On this very day, November 07, in 1805, Lewis and Clark reached the mouth of the astonishing Columbia River, with a flow twice that of the mighty Nile.
The Rest of the Story
Talk about economic potential. Little did they know that today the Columbia River Valley viticulture district would cover 11 million acres (Napa Valley's area is only 300,000 acres).
How important is the Columbia Valley wine district? Here's what critic Ted Merideth said about it in 1986.
The Columbia Valley grapes and vines dominate not only Washington, but the entire Northwest. More premium wine grapes are grown in the Columbia Valley than in the rest of the Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho) combined.
In the production of premium vine grapes, the Columbia Valley is second only to California.
The Columbia region is the sunniest and warmest in the Northwest, (In the summer, the sunshine lasts two hours longer than in the Napa valley.)
The Fairest of the Valley
Columbia River Valley's best grape? Piece of cake. Its Merlot is reaching world class. We just had one win Best of Tasting over 23 competitors (all carefully wrapped), so the winner is...
Our Wine of the Day
'97 Preston Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley
As Lewis and Clark boated down the Columbia, little did they realize that 1,000 miles to the south a string of 19 Franciscan missions were making wine from European vines, something that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had tried and failed to do.
This page created November 2000