The Royal Slope is Washington State’s newest American Viticultural Area the TTB announced today, exciting news for wineries sourcing grapes from Stillwater Creek situated in the heart of the new AVA. The designation will differentiate the growing region from other areas of the Columbia Valley and help consumers further appreciate the quality and distinct character of the wines.
The Royal Slope, a sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley located on the south-facing slopes of the Frenchman Hills, is Washington State’s 15th AVA. It encompasses over 156,000 acres in Grant and Adams counties. The growing region is classified as warm but not excessively hot, in part due to the area’s elevation — 1,300 feet on average, compared to 600 feet on the Wahluke Slope, an AVA 15 miles south. These factors, along with the AVA’s steep, south-facing slopes, define the growing region.
Veteran Washington winemaker Mike Januik first visited Stillwater Creek in 1999 to consult on the vineyard’s planting. “I was immediately impressed by the site’s elevation and soils,” he recalls. “Unlike other growing regions surrounding the area, Stillwater Creek’s soils are distinguished by a large amount of fractured basalt. At an elevation of 1200-1500 ft., the soils found here are unlike soils deposited by the Great Missoula flood in neighboring appellations, further differentiating the Royal Slope from other vineyards outside the boundaries of the AVA.”
Stillwater Creek is also distinguished by its exceptional selection of premium varietal clones, including seven clones of Cabernet Sauvignon (2, 4, 6, 8, 47, 169 and 191) and four clones of Syrah (1, 174, 300 and Phelps). The site’s varying topography creates diverse mesoclimates, allowing a wide range of grape varieties to thrive here.