The AI is, generally speaking, either largely correct or flat out wrong, with a troubling tendency to bullshit
ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence chatbots have dominated the news recently. Last weekend, I asked ChatGPT a series of questions about Washington wine. Though the questions were spontaneous, I deliberately asked a mixture of questions that involved factual and subjective answers. I occasionally asked follow-ups.
Overall, the system’s responses were impressive. However, there were clear pitfalls.
Like the worst of winery PR companies, ChatGPT engaged in a lot of marketing speak, talking about “distinct” and “unique” wines and areas. In the class I teach at Walla Walla Community College on writing for wineries, I give the students a list of verboten words in the first class. ChatGPT uses these words in abundance, which I consider to be lazy – and bad – writing.
ChatGPT also wavered frequently regarding factual information where definitive answers are available. Instead, it preferred to speak in vagaries about “several” instead of a specific number and “the ‘70s” instead of a specific year. This seemed strange, as in other cases, it was very specific – and often wrong.
The fact that ChatGPT generates the number of false answers it does is interesting. In some cases, it’s a clear example of “garbage in, garbage out,” with the system using outdated or bad information.
Then there are times when ChatGPT states things that aren’t dated but rather are completely factually false and seem to be created from whole cloth. At the risk of humanizing the software, it seems that ChatGPT likes to bullshit when it doesn’t know the answer to something.
Overall, my impression was that ChatGPT’s answers were either mostly correct or wildly wrong. There was little in between.
Each question I asked is shown below in bold. ChatGPT’s responses are shown in italics. After each answer, I have assigned a letter grade and an explanation. The grades are meant to be more impressionistic than formal, to give sense of how correct, or not, I thought the answer was.
* * *
Tell me about the Washington wine industry.
The Washington wine industry has been steadily growing since the 1960s and has become a significant player in the global wine market. Washington State is the second-largest wine producer in the United States, with over 1,000 wineries and 70,000 acres of vineyards spread across the state.
The wine industry in Washington is focused on producing premium quality wines, with a particular emphasis on red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. These grapes thrive in the state’s warm and dry climate, which is influenced by the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River.
Washington State has several American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) that are recognized by the federal government, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, and Columbia Valley. These AVAs are known for producing distinctive wines with unique flavors and characteristics.
In recent years, the Washington wine industry has gained recognition and accolades from wine critics and enthusiasts around the world. Washington wines have been consistently awarded high ratings and critical acclaim for their quality and value.
The state’s wine industry is also an important economic driver, generating billions of dollars in revenue and supporting thousands of jobs in agriculture, production, and hospitality. Wine tourism has also become a significant industry in Washington, with visitors from around the world coming to explore the state’s vineyards and wineries.
There are several factual errors and vagaries. For example, ChatGPT says there are “70,000” acres of wine grapes planted in Washington. The current official number is 60,000+. It also says the state has “several” American Viticultural Areas. It has 20.
ChatGPT talks about vineyards “spread across the state.” However, plantings are almost exclusively in the eastern half of Washington. The software also fails to draw the distinction between eastern and western Washington in its answer. Rather, it talks about the state’s “warm and dry climate.” I think every west-sider would quibble with that statement.
Note ChatGPT’s love of marketing speak: premium quality, distinctive, unique. Worse yet “distinctive wines with unique flavors and characteristics.” Bleck. This falls into the category of bad writing that says nothing, though one could also say that it’s industry standard.
How many viticultural areas does Washington have?
Washington State has currently 14 federally recognized viticultural areas (AVAs) that are defined by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). These AVAs are defined based on unique geographic and climatic features, which impact the grape-growing and wine-making process.
The 14 AVAs of Washington State are:
- Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
- Columbia Gorge
- Columbia Valley
- Horse Heaven Hills
- Lake Chelan
- Lewis-Clark Valley
- Naches Heights
- Puget Sound
- Rattlesnake Hills
- Red Mountain
- Snipes Mountain
- Walla Walla Valley
- Wahluke Slope
- Yakima Valley
Each of these AVAs has its own distinct features and unique terroir, which contributes to the character and flavor profile of the wines produced there.
There are 20 federally recognized growing regions in Washington. The state received is 14th appellation in 2016 and its 15th in 2020. So the information ChatGPT is quoting is approximately three years out of date.
The software would seem to be pulling this information from an old list, perhaps the one here, which came up on a quick Google search. Note, again the system’s use of words like “distinct” and “unique.”
How many different grape varieties are grown in Washington?
Washington State is home to a wide variety of grape varieties, but some are more commonly grown than others. According to the Washington State Wine Commission, there are over 70 different grape varieties grown in the state, with more than 40 of those being used for wine production.
The most widely planted grape varieties in Washington State include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Gris
- Sauvignon Blanc
These grape varieties are well-suited to the state’s climate and terroir, and they produce high-quality wines that are highly sought after by wine lovers around the world. In addition to these commonly planted varieties, there are also many experimental and lesser-known grape varieties being grown in Washington State, as winemakers and grape growers continue to innovate and push the boundaries of the state’s wine industry.
Here, ChatGPT does an excellent job of both giving the number of grapes planted in the state (70+) and also quoting the source. (NB: I currently track over 100 varieties planted in Columbia Valley, but the Washington Wine Commission is considered the definitive source of such information.) However, it makes the odd statement “more than 40 of those being used for wine production.” That is false, as most of the 70+ varieties are used for wine production.
In listing grape varieties, it correctly provides the top seven most planted varieties. However, the last three listed are curious. There are 212 acres of Grenache planted in the state according to the 2017 acreage report, the most recent conducted. In contrast, there were 685 acres of Cabernet Franc, which is not listed. Similarly, there is more Gewurztraminer planted than Viognier.
Tell me about the Walla Walla Valley AVA.
The Walla Walla Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is located in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. It was established as an AVA in 1984 and is known for producing high-quality red and white wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
The Walla Walla Valley AVA covers approximately 3,800 square miles, with about 1600 acres of vineyards on the Washington side and about 500 acres on the Oregon side. The AVA is named after the city of Walla Walla, which is home to many wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards.
The Walla Walla Valley’s climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and cool nights, which are ideal for grape growing. The area is also known for its unique geology, with soils that are a mix of loess, basalt, and gravel. These soils provide good drainage, which helps to stress the vines and produce grapes with concentrated flavors and aromas.
The Walla Walla Valley AVA is particularly known for its Bordeaux-style red wines, which are often rich and full-bodied with dark fruit flavors, firm tannins, and a long finish. The AVA is also known for its Syrah, which can be spicy and complex, with notes of black pepper and dark fruit.
In addition to red wines, the Walla Walla Valley also produces some excellent white wines, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. These wines are often crisp and refreshing, with bright acidity and fruit-forward flavors.
The Walla Walla Valley AVA is home to over 120 wineries, and it has become a popular destination for wine lovers from around the world. Visitors can tour vineyards, taste wines at local tasting rooms, and enjoy the area’s stunning natural beauty.
Right off the bat, ChatGPT starts with some dubious information, saying “known for producing high-quality red and white wines” Walla Walla Valley is 95% planted to red varieties. While there has been an increase in white variety plantings in recent years, these wines remain extremely limited.
Later, ChatGPT dedicates a whole paragraph to Walla Walla Valley white wines. It even lists specific varieties. However, examples of Chardonnay (40 total acres), Sauvignon Blanc (8.47 acres), and Riesling (5.37 acres) from Walla Walla Valley are extremely limited. It’s odd to mention white wines at all, let alone dedicate a paragraph to them.
It incorrectly lists the planted acreage of the AVA, stating “about 1600 acres of vineyards on the Washington side and about 500 acres on the Oregon side.” In the most recent acreage survey, several years back, Walla Walla Valley had 2,933 acres of wine grapes planted, 57% in Washington and 43% in Oregon. It says that appellation is 3,800 square miles. The Walla Walla Walla wine Alliance lists it as 504 square miles.
As in previous answers, ChatGPT gives a fair amount of marketing speak: unique, ideal, etc.
Tell me about the Woodinville wine industry?
The Woodinville wine industry is located in the Woodinville area of Washington State, just a short drive from Seattle. It is one of the most important wine regions in the state and is known for producing high-quality wines from a variety of grape varieties.
The Woodinville wine industry began in the 1970s, with the establishment of the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery, which is still one of the largest and most well-known wineries in the area. Since then, the region has grown rapidly, with more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms now located in the Woodinville area.
The Woodinville wine industry is particularly known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay. These grape varieties thrive in the region’s cool climate, which is influenced by the nearby Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound.
In addition to wine production, the Woodinville wine industry has become an important tourist destination, with visitors coming from around the world to taste wines, tour vineyards, and learn about the winemaking process. The area is also home to several restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a popular destination for food and wine lovers.
One of the unique aspects of the Woodinville wine industry is its close proximity to Seattle, which has helped to make it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Visitors to the area can easily combine a visit to Woodinville’s wineries with a trip to Seattle’s other attractions, such as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.
Overall, the Woodinville wine industry has become a vibrant and important part of Washington State’s wine industry, producing high-quality wines that are enjoyed by people around the world.
There are almost no commercial wine grapes grown in the Woodinville area, as the climate is generally considered to be too cool. ChatGPT makes it sound as if the wines produced in Woodinville are being grown there. This is factually false. ChatGPT also talks about people coming to tour the area’s vineyards. Ooph. I wish people well finding them.
It lists the number of wineries and tasting rooms at 100. This number is dated. Woodinville Wine Country, considered to be the definitive source, states that there are over 120 wineries and tasting rooms.
ChatGPT often answers in vagaries. It writes of the Woodinville wine industry starting “in the 1970s” rather than giving the specific date that Ste. Michelle moved to the town.
It says that Ste. Michelle is “one of the largest” wineries in the area. It is the largest winery in the area and the state by a mile.
There is good information here, but, ultimately, talking about the abundance of cool-climate wine grapes grown in the area earns a failing grade. This critically misses one of the most important aspects of this region, that the grapes are grown elsewhere.
Give me a 300 word history of the Washington wine industry?
The history of the Washington wine industry can be traced back to the 1820s, when the first European settlers arrived in the region. However, it was not until the 20th century that the industry began to take shape.
In the early 1900s, a group of Italian immigrants began planting grapes in the Yakima Valley, which is now one of the most important wine regions in the state. These early vineyards were primarily focused on producing grapes for the table, rather than wine production.
It was not until the 1960s that the modern Washington wine industry began to emerge. In 1967, a group of farmers and academics formed the Washington Wine Commission, with the goal of promoting the state’s wine industry and improving the quality of its wines.
The first modern winery in Washington State was established in 1967 by a group of University of Washington professors, who planted a vineyard and began making wine under the label “Associated Vintners” (now known as Columbia Winery).
Over the next few decades, the Washington wine industry continued to grow, with more wineries and vineyards being established throughout the state. The 1980s and 1990s were particularly important decades for the industry, as wine production and quality improved, and the state began to gain recognition as a world-class wine region.
Today, the Washington wine industry is a major player in the global wine market, with more than 1,000 wineries and over 60,000 acres of vineyards. The state is particularly known for its red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, as well as its white wines, such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
The success of the Washington wine industry can be attributed to several factors, including the state’s unique climate and geography, its innovative and entrepreneurial winemakers, and the support of organizations such as the Washington Wine Commission. Today, Washington State is widely recognized as one of the world’s top wine regions, and its wines are enjoyed by people around the globe.
The main issues here are factual errors, and unfortunately they are significant. It states “In 1967, a group of farmers and academics formed the Washington Wine Commission.” The Washington Wine Commission was, in fact, established by the state legislature in 1987, 20 years later.
It makes mention of Associated Vintners, which was actually established in 1962 and released its first wine in 1967, as the state’s first winery. It makes no mention of Ste. Michelle, which made its first vinifera wine in 1967 and descended from a winery founded decades earlier.
Otherwise, the system does a decent job of answering this question, though largely speaking in vagaries. Note that it now lists the acreage in Washington correctly at 60,000, whereas previously it incorrectly said 70,000. However, the presence of large factual errors leads to a low grade.
Why aren’t Washington wines better known in the national market?
There are several factors that contribute to Washington wines not being as well-known in the national market as wines from other regions, such as California. Here are some possible reasons:
- Smaller production: Compared to California, Washington State produces a much smaller volume of wine. This means that there is less wine available to be distributed nationally, which can limit the exposure of Washington wines in the market.
- Lack of brand recognition: While Washington wines have gained a reputation for quality among wine enthusiasts, they may not be as well-known to the average consumer. Unlike some California wine regions, such as Napa Valley or Sonoma County, which have strong brand recognition, Washington State does not have a single dominant wine region or brand.
- Distribution challenges: Even though many Washington wineries produce high-quality wines, they may face challenges in getting their wines into national distribution channels. Distributors and retailers may be more familiar with wines from established regions such as California, and may be less willing to take a chance on lesser-known wines from Washington.
- Marketing and promotion: Another reason why Washington wines may not be as well-known in the national market is that they may not receive as much marketing and promotional support as wines from other regions. While the Washington Wine Commission has done a lot to promote the state’s wines, there may be limited resources available to support national marketing efforts.
Despite these challenges, the Washington wine industry has continued to grow and gain recognition for its high-quality wines. As more people discover the unique flavors and styles of Washington wines, it is possible that they will become more widely recognized and sought-after in the national market.
This was one of the more challenging questions I asked ChatGPT, as it is more subjective and conceptual rather than fact based. The answer is completely on point.
What is the best known Washington winery?
There are several well-known and respected wineries in Washington State, and it is difficult to say which one is the “best” known. However, some of the most well-known wineries in Washington include:
- Chateau Ste. Michelle: Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the oldest winery in Washington State and one of the largest producers of Riesling in the world. It is located in Woodinville, just outside of Seattle.
- Columbia Crest: Located in Paterson, Columbia Crest is known for its affordable and high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, which has won numerous awards and accolades.
- Leonetti Cellar: Founded in 1977, Leonetti Cellar is a family-owned winery in Walla Walla that is known for its Bordeaux-style blends and its limited production of high-end wines.
- Betz Family Winery: Founded in 1997, Betz Family Winery is a small, family-owned winery in Woodinville that is known for its critically acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Bordeaux-style blends.
- L’Ecole No. 41: Founded in 1983, L’Ecole No. 41 is a family-owned winery in Walla Walla that is known for its Bordeaux-style blends and its commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly winemaking practices.
These wineries are just a few examples of the many outstanding wineries in Washington State, and there are many others that are also well-known and respected within the wine industry.
ChatGPT punts on the question, saying that it’s difficult to answer. It writes about Chateau Ste. Michelle being formed in 1934. This is not correctly stated. National Wine Company, a predecessor of Ste. Michelle Vineyards, traces its roots back to 1932. Ste. Michelle Vineyards was not founded until 1967. Overall, though, with its qualifiers, this is a good answer.
What would be the next five wineries on that list?
It is difficult to determine a definitive ranking of the top wineries in Washington State, as there are many excellent producers that could be included on such a list. However, here are five additional wineries that are often mentioned among the state’s best:
- Quilceda Creek: Located in Snohomish, Quilceda Creek is a small, family-owned winery that is known for its critically acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon and its limited production of high-end wines.
- Cayuse Vineyards: Founded in 1997, Cayuse Vineyards is a family-owned winery in Walla Walla that is known for its distinctive, terroir-driven wines made from Rhône varieties like Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre.
- K Vintners: Founded by winemaker Charles Smith in 2001, K Vintners is a winery in Walla Walla that is known for its bold and distinctive Syrah, as well as its innovative winemaking techniques.
- Andrew Will Winery: Founded in 1989, Andrew Will Winery is a family-owned winery on Vashon Island that is known for its Bordeaux-style blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
- Woodward Canyon: Founded in 1981, Woodward Canyon is a family-owned winery in Walla Walla that is known for its high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and other varietals, as well as its commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.
Again, this is just a small selection of some of the top wineries in Washington State, and there are many others that could also be included on such a list.
This is an excellent list and well-stated. The mention of Mourvèdre for Cayuse is curious, however. Also K Vintners opened its doors in 2001, but made its first wine in 1999, hence an A- grade instead of an A.
What are the three most known grape growing regions in Washington?
Washington State has several distinct grape-growing regions, each with its own unique climate, soil, and topography. However, the three most well-known and important regions in the state are:
- Columbia Valley: This is the largest grape-growing region in Washington State, covering more than one-third of the state’s total vineyard area. It includes several sub-regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, and Horse Heaven Hills, among others. Columbia Valley is known for its diverse range of grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, and many others.
- Walla Walla Valley: This is a smaller but highly respected wine-growing region that straddles the border between Washington and Oregon. It is known for its distinctive volcanic soils, which produce wines with intense flavors and aromas. Walla Walla Valley is particularly famous for its red wines, especially those made from Bordeaux grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
- Red Mountain: This is a small, high-elevation wine-growing region in eastern Washington that is known for its intense, concentrated wines. It is located within the larger Yakima Valley AVA and is home to several of the state’s most prestigious wineries. Red Mountain is primarily known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but other varieties like Syrah and Sangiovese are also grown there.
Again, ChatGPT writes in vagaries, talking about “several” areas, “distinct” and “unique.” It says that Columbia Valley covers more than one-third of the state’s total vineyard area. In fact, Columbia Valley includes over 99% of Washington’s vineyard acreage. A frequently cited statistic is that the Columbia Valley encompasses one-third of the total acreage of Washington state. This is likely where that language is coming from. However, that frequently cited statistic is also incorrect. The actual number is one-quarter of the state.
ChatGPT talks about the Columbia Valley having “several” sub-regions. There are 16.
It references Walla Walla Valley being known for its “distinctive volcanic soils,” which it is not. Here, though, it does correctly say that the appellation is known for its red wines. The reference to Red Mountain as a “high elevation” wine-growing region is curious.
You say high elevation for Red Mountain. Why do you say that?
Yes, Red Mountain is considered a high-elevation wine-growing region in Washington State. The AVA is located at an average elevation of about 1,400 feet above sea level, which is higher than most other grape-growing regions in the state.
The elevation of a vineyard can have a significant impact on the grapes that are grown there. At higher elevations, the air is cooler and the soil is often well-drained, which can result in grapes with more concentrated flavors and aromas. Additionally, high-elevation vineyards are often exposed to more intense sunlight, which can lead to more even ripening of the grapes and thicker grape skins that can produce more tannic and structured wines.
In the case of Red Mountain, the high elevation of the region is believed to contribute to the intense, concentrated character of the wines that are produced there. The soils in the area are also well-drained and composed of a mix of volcanic sediment and glacial outwash, which further enhances the unique flavor profile of the wines. Overall, the combination of high elevation, unique soils, and a favorable climate make Red Mountain one of the most sought-after wine-growing regions in Washington State.
It says that Red Mountain is located at an “average” of 1,400 feet above sea level. In fact, Red Mountain’s summit is 1,411 feet above sea level. There have not been plantings at the top of the mountain until very recently. Rather, most plantings are lower down on the mountain between about 600-800 feet, although plenty of higher plantings exist.
From there, ChatGPT starts to BS, relating higher elevations to well-drained soils, talking about volcanic soils, and the “unique” flavor profile. This answer is far off the rails.
Who first planted grapes on Red Mountain and when?
The first grapevines on Red Mountain were planted in the early 1970s by Jim Holmes and John Williams, who were both pioneers in the Washington State wine industry. They saw the potential for grape growing in the region due to its unique soils and favorable climate, and decided to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux grape varieties.
At the time, Red Mountain was a relatively unknown area with no established grape-growing tradition, so Holmes and Williams had to experiment with different viticultural techniques and grape varieties to determine what would work best in the region. They also had to contend with the challenges of farming in a remote and rugged area, including harsh winters and limited access to water.
Despite these challenges, Holmes and Williams were able to successfully establish Red Mountain as a premier wine-growing region, and their wines soon gained a reputation for their intensity, complexity, and age-worthiness. Today, Red Mountain is home to some of the most prestigious wineries in Washington State, and its Cabernet Sauvignon and other red wines are widely regarded as some of the best in the country.
ChatGPT correctly identifies John Williams and Jim Holmes as the people who planted the first wine grapes on Red Mountain. It also talks about the relative difficulties. It was interesting to me that it waffled on the year, so I followed up.
You say early 70s. Can you give me a specific year?
The exact year that the first grapevines were planted on Red Mountain is a matter of some debate, but it is generally believed to have been in 1972 or 1973. Jim Holmes and John Williams, who were the pioneers of grape growing on Red Mountain, have both cited different years in interviews over the years, but the early 1970s is the generally accepted time frame for the first plantings.
Perhaps the system is confusing purchasing the land and planting the land. We can definitively say that the first plantings on Red Mountain began in 1975. However, it does state the reason for the ambiguity, even if its answer is factually incorrect.
What are the three most prominent vineyards in Washington?
Washington State has numerous notable vineyards, each with its own unique characteristics and reputation. However, some of the most prominent vineyards in the state are:
- Champoux Vineyards: Located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, Champoux Vineyards is one of the most famous and respected vineyards in Washington State. It was first planted in 1972 and has since become known for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, which are prized by many of the state’s top winemakers.
- Ciel du Cheval Vineyard: This vineyard is located on Red Mountain and is known for its unique combination of soils and microclimates. It was first planted in the 1970s and has since gained a reputation for producing some of the most intense and complex Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes in the state.
- Boushey Vineyard: Located in the Yakima Valley AVA, Boushey Vineyard is another highly respected vineyard in Washington State. It was first planted in the 1980s and is known for its diverse range of grape varieties, including Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and many others. The vineyard’s grapes are prized for their balance, structure, and complex flavor profiles.
This is an excellent list. Again, ChatGPT is vague on exact years and overuses buzzwords.
What would be the next three vineyards on the list?
After Champoux Vineyards, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, and Boushey Vineyard, some other highly respected and prominent vineyards in Washington State include:
- Klipsun Vineyards: Located on Red Mountain, Klipsun Vineyards is known for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The vineyard was first planted in the 1980s and has since become a favorite among many of the state’s top winemakers.
- Sagemoor Vineyards: Sagemoor Vineyards is a collection of several vineyards located in the Columbia Valley AVA. The vineyards were first planted in the 1960s and 1970s and have since gained a reputation for producing high-quality grapes, particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
- Dionysus Vineyard: Located in the Columbia Valley AVA, Dionysus Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in Washington State. It was first planted in the 1970s and has since become known for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes. The vineyard is also notable for its unique soils, which include a mix of gravel, sand, and silt.
The list is excellent. However, the system again waffles on years. It also incorrectly states that Sagemoor’s plantings date back to the 1960s, which they do not. Again, note the use of buzzwords.
What one grape variety is Washington most known for?
Washington is most known for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Cabernet Sauvignon is widely grown in the state, particularly in the warmer Columbia Valley AVA and the Red Mountain AVA, and is known for its depth, complexity, and aging potential. Washington Cabernet Sauvignons are often characterized by their dark fruit flavors, firm tannins, and balanced acidity. Other notable grape varieties grown in Washington include Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling, among others.
ChatGPT’s initial answer to the question is correct. However, it subsequently says “Cabernet Sauvignon is widely grown in the state, particularly in the warmer Columbia Valley.” This is not true. Cabernet Sauvignon is almost exclusively grown in Columbia Valley. Almost all other areas are too cool to ripen the variety.
What are the highest accolades that a Washington wine has received?
There have been several Washington wines that have received high accolades and critical acclaim over the years. Some of the most notable include:
- 1998 Leonetti Cellar Reserve: In 2002, Wine Spectator named the 1998 Leonetti Cellar Reserve as the #1 wine in the world, the first time a Washington wine had ever achieved this distinction.
- 2012 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon: The 2012 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon received a perfect 100-point score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, one of only a handful of Washington wines to ever achieve this honor.
- 2016 Cayuse Syrah En Chamberlin Vineyard: The 2016 Cayuse Syrah En Chamberlin Vineyard received a perfect 100-point score from Jeb Dunnuck, another rare feat for a Washington wine.
- 2014 Betz Family Winery Pere de Famille: The 2014 Betz Family Winery Pere de Famille was named Wine Enthusiast’s Wine of the Year in 2017, the first time a Washington wine had ever received this honor.
- 2014 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon: The 2014 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon received a perfect 100-point score from both Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Jeb Dunnuck, cementing its place as one of the greatest Washington wines ever produced.
These high accolades demonstrate the exceptional quality of some Washington wines and have helped to raise the profile of the state’s wine industry on the national and international stage.
Here, ChatGPT makes up things whole cloth in a truly stunning way.
The 1998 Leonetti Reserve was not named the number one wine by Wine Spectator in 2002. In fact, that wine did not appear on the magazine’s Top 100 list that year. The 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was the first Washington wine to rank atop Wine Spectator’s list. Wine Spectator’s 2002 wine of the year was the 1999 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The 2012 Quilceda Creek did not receive a 100-point score from The Wine Advocate. Rather, it received a 98-point score. It’s interesting that ChatGPT falsely states this vintage, as the winery has received multiple perfect scores from this publication for other vintages.
The 2014 Betz Père de Famille was not the number one wine in Wine Enthusiast. (I am a former contributing editor at Wine Enthusiast.) This is not true. In fact, the wine did not place in any of Wine Enthusiast’s ‘Best of’ lists in 2017.
The 2014 Quilceda Creek Cabernet did in fact receive a 100-point score from Jeb Dunnuck. However, it was when Dunnuck was writing for The Wine Advocate, not his own site.
What is the highest production Washington wine?
The highest production Washington wine by volume is Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Columbia Valley Riesling. This wine is consistently one of the most popular and best-selling wines in the state, with production averaging around 600,000 to 700,000 cases per year. Chateau Ste. Michelle is the largest producer of Riesling in the United States, and the Columbia Valley Riesling is considered to be one of the best values in Washington wine, offering a consistent and high-quality product at an affordable price point. While this wine may not receive the same critical acclaim as some of the smaller production, higher-end wines in the state, it has played an important role in helping to establish Washington as a leading producer of Riesling and a major player in the global wine market.
This is a correct answer through and through.
What are six myths about Washington wine?
- Washington wines are too expensive: While some premium Washington wines can be expensive, the state also produces a range of affordable and high-quality wines.
- Washington wines are only made from apples: While Washington is known for its apple production, it is also one of the largest wine-producing states in the country. The majority of Washington wines are made from grapes.
- Washington wines are only good for drinking young: While some Washington wines are meant to be consumed young, others can age for decades and improve in complexity and flavor.
- Washington wines are all big and bold: While many Washington wines are known for their bold flavors and high alcohol content, the state also produces a range of styles, including lighter-bodied wines.
- Washington wines are not as good as California wines: While California is known for its wine production, Washington wines have earned a reputation for quality and are highly regarded by wine critics and enthusiasts.
- Washington wines are only made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape: While Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular grape variety grown in Washington, the state also produces a range of other grape varieties, including Merlot, Syrah, and Riesling.
Here, I was deliberately trying to see if ChatGPT would use information from an article I wrote for Wine Enthusiast titled “Six myths about Washington wine.” It did not take the bait.
For #1, this is the first time I’ve ever heard that stated. #2, wait, what? #3, this seems like a generic answer, though some have written about this misperception historically. #4, very true. #5, again, I’ve never heard this particular myth. #6, this answer is absurd.
Are there other important things about Washington wine I should know?
Yes, here are a few other important things to know about Washington wine:
- Diversity of Grape Varieties: While Washington is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, the state is home to more than 70 different grape varieties, many of which thrive in the state’s unique growing conditions. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in alternative and lesser-known grape varieties, such as Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Roussanne, which are producing some exciting and innovative wines in Washington.
- Sustainability: Washington has a strong commitment to sustainable and environmentally responsible winegrowing practices. Many of the state’s vineyards and wineries are certified sustainable, and there is a growing movement towards organic and biodynamic farming practices.
- Wine Tourism: Washington’s wine industry is an important contributor to the state’s economy, and wine tourism has become an increasingly popular way to explore the state’s many wineries and vineyards. There are several wine regions in the state that offer a range of tasting experiences and events throughout the year, including the Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, and Columbia Valley.
- Collaborative Spirit: One of the unique aspects of the Washington wine industry is its collaborative spirit. Many winemakers and vineyard owners work closely together, sharing knowledge and resources to produce the best possible wines. This sense of community and collaboration has helped to foster a strong sense of identity and pride in Washington’s wine industry.
- Innovation: Finally, the Washington wine industry is known for its spirit of innovation and experimentation. Winemakers in the state are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible, testing new techniques and ideas to create wines that are unique and reflective of the state’s diverse terroir. This willingness to take risks and try new things has helped to establish Washington as a leading producer of high-quality wines on the global stage.
We could quibble about how many of the state’s vineyards are certified sustainable, but this is a solid answer to this question.
If there were one thing I should know about Washington wine, what would it be?
If there were one thing to know about Washington wine, it would be that the state produces world-class wines that are distinctive, complex, and reflective of the state’s unique terroir. From the high-elevation vineyards of Red Mountain to the rolling hills of the Walla Walla Valley, Washington’s diverse growing regions offer a range of microclimates and soils that allow winemakers to produce a wide variety of styles and varietals. The state’s winemakers are passionate, collaborative, and committed to producing wines of the highest quality, and their efforts have helped to establish Washington as one of the most exciting and dynamic wine regions in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned wine aficionado or a curious newcomer, Washington’s wines offer something for everyone, and are well worth exploring and experiencing for yourself.
Again, ChatGPT wades into swamp of marketing buzzwords: world-class, unique, distinctive, complex, “committed to producing the highest quality.” I would expect that most every wine region would say these exact same things. Still, these are solid answers to this question, if heavy on the marketing speak.
* * *
Overall, reading ChatGPT’s answers, I was reminded of driving across country to Seattle in 1996. My girlfriend and I rented a cell phone for the purpose to stay in touch with people and to have in case anything went wrong. Every time we placed a call, however, it quickly cut out after a minute or two.
“Great idea,” I thought. “Too bad it doesn’t work.”