With just 110 acres planted, Candy Mountain is one of the country’s smallest AVAs. (photo courtesy of Kevin Pogue)

Small but mighty, Candy Mountain was recently named Washington’s newest—and smallest—AVA, bringing The Evergreen State’s total AVA count to 16.

At 815 acres, Candy Mountain sits to the southeast of Red Mountain and is within the Yakima Valley AVA and the larger Columbia Valley AVA. It is part of a chain of four mountains in the area, which also include Red Mountain, Badger Mountain, and Little Badger Mountain. Similar to Red Mountain, it includes a warm climate and higher winds relative to the surrounding area. There are currently 110 acres of vineyards planted in the AVA, and almost all are red varieties.

The AVA resides within the larger Columbia Valley designation. (photo by Google Earth)

“The region has been growing highly regarded grapes for years, so it will be great to finally see the AVA-designated wines out in the world,” said Steve Warner, president of the Washington State Wine Commission. “There are several more AVAs currently under petition to be approved in the coming years, which is another positive sign of our long-term continued growth. With 1,000 wineries, 60,000 acres of vineyards and now 16 AVAs, we’re still only just getting started.”

To qualify as an AVA, a wine grape-growing region must be distinguishable by features such as climate, soil, elevation, and physical features. According to noted geologist Dr. Kevin Pogue, who wrote the AVA petition for Candy Mountain, its distinct characteristics include:

• Location on an isolated mountain with excellent cold air drainage that rises above lower elevation plains.

• A very large percentage of land facing south, enhancing solar radiation and allowing the soils to warm quickly in the spring.

• Soils, especially on the upper slopes, which are shallower than those of the surrounding plains, allowing vine roots to penetrate to the underlying basalt bedrock or ice age flood deposits.

New AVA designations have been proliferating in the U.S. in recent years, especially in Oregon and Washington State, bringing useful information (and more adventures) to wine consumers worldwide.