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TTB Announces New White Bluffs AVA Designation

Today the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced the designation of the historic area of the Columbia Valley featuring many of the oldest vineyards in Washington as the White Bluffs American Viticultural Area (AVA). Vineyards in the new White Bluffs AVA are featured in many well-known Washington wines, and date back to 1972. Washington’s most known winery, Chateau St. Michelle, first bought grapes from Sagemoor Vineyards located in the new White Bluff AVA in 1974.

Rising above a free flowing section of the Columbia River north of Pasco are four of the five vineyards in the Sagemoor family, now part of the new AVA— Bacchus, Dionysus, Gamache and the namesake Sagemoor. Fruit from these four vineyards can be found in wine from nearly 100 wineries, or one out of every 10 Washington wineries.

“This is tremendous recognition for one of the legacy regions in the Washington wine industry,” said Kent Waliser, Director of Wine and Grape Sales at Sagemoor Vineyards. “The characteristics and consistency of fruit from White Bluffs vineyards have made us a mainstay in wines from Walla Walla to Woodinville since our inception nearly 50 years ago. This is a well-deserved distinction for a region of our state that has always been known and respected.”

Soils in the White Bluffs AVA are composed of sediments overlain by alternating layers of sand and silt deposited in glacial Lake Lewis during the Missoula Floods. Grapes grown in White Bluffs’ unique soils showcase a different flavor and structure compared to other areas of the state.

“The abundance of soil-available calcium in the White Bluffs AVA produces wine grapes showcasing purity in fruit flavor, refined tannins and finesse,” said Lacey Lybeck, Vineyard Operations Manager at Sagemoor Vineyards.

Calcium also aids the vines in water use, allowing them to flourish in the arid climate of southeast Washington state. “These unique soils, paired with the natural frost protection provided by the plateaus perched high above the Columbia River have allowed our team to sustainably raise wine grapes, including over 50 acres of ‘old vines’ planted in 1972,” said Lybeck. With the designation of White Bluffs AVA, wineries will now be able to highlight the special qualities of this place and celebrate the land where their wines began.

While hundreds of wineries have crafted wines from Sagemoor grapes over the years, we recently began working with some of our wine making partners to release wine under our estate label, Selections by Sagemoor. Both our Stars in a Row Cabernet Sauvignon and Without Rehearsal Sauvignon Blanc feature grapes from Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards where legacy blocks date back to the original plantings. Learn more about the history of Sagemoor Vineyards and our estate label by visiting