As of 2 September 2020, Royal Slope has become the 15th American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Washington State
The Royal Slope AVA is entirely located within the larger Columbia Valley AVA, just south of the Ancient Lakes AVA and to the north of the Wahluke Slope AVA.
It accounts for over 769ha of vineyard land, the majority of which on windblown silts or loess, and planted to more than 20 grape varieties.
‘The AVA is something of an island geographically that is surrounded on all four sides by very different lands,’ explained Alan Busacca PhD, co-writer of the AVA petition. ‘North of the AVA are generally flat lands of the Quincy Valley with soils on shifting dune sands. To the east and south of the AVA, the landscape falls away into the harsh, basalt bedrock-dominated cliffs of Crab Creek Coulee gouged out by Missoula Floods, and on the west, the bedrock cliffs fall away steeply to the Columbia River.’
Busacca added that the AVA benefits from about 90% ‘gently to somewhat steeply south-facing slopes’, and that the average elevation of its vineyards is about 400m.
‘The area of the AVA is large enough that the variation in soils, slopes and aspect allows for a wide range of grape varieties to be matched to specific sites, soils, and training methods, producing wine grapes of exceptional quality and distinction,' said Busacca. ‘In a short period of time, vineyards like Stillwater Creek, Lawrence, Frenchman Hills and more have been producing wines that are absolutely rocking people’s worlds. Royal Slope has jumped onto the wine map very quickly based on exceptional fruit character and quality.’