The Columbia Valley AVA (referred to locally as the Columbia Basin) is an American Viticultural Area which lies in the Columbia River Plateau, through much of central and southern Washington State, with a small section crossing into the neighboring state of Oregon. The AVA includes the drainage basin of the Columbia River and its tributaries through much of Washington. Allen Shoup, president of Washington State's largest winery Chateau Ste. Michelle, understood the importance of obtaining appellation status for Washington State to grow the reputation of the vineyards. He hired Drs. Wade Wolfe and Walter Clore to petition the federal government for appellation status, a request that was granted in 1984.
The Columbia Valley AVA is the largest wine region in the state of Washington, including over 11,000,000 acres (4,500,000 ha), of which over 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) are planted in vineyards. The Columbia Valley AVA includes 99% of the total vineyard area planted in the state of Washington. Grapes grown here include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot gris, and Sauvignon blanc. Concord grapes and other Vitis labrusca grapes are grown in the region as well. The unique climates of the area allow the Columbia Valley to produce wines that are very fruit-forward, like California wine, but which also retain some of the balance and structure of European wine.