Generally speaking, Washington white wines excel in vintages that are either cool and/or have cool finishes. 2022, however, had a somewhat different set of circumstances that made it the strongest vintage for Washington white wines in 15 years.
The vintage started out cool and wet, delaying bud break, bloom, and ultimately harvest by as much as three weeks compared to recent years. A crop that in some cases was historically large further delayed ripening.
However, July and August temperatures were quite warm. An unusually warm October was also a gift that no one could have expected.
The warmth of July and August provided flavor intensity while the delayed start and larger crop pushed harvest into a time where nights were much cooler. This helped grapes hold onto much more acidity than is the norm in Washington.
The results are wines that have the concentration of fruit flavors Washington is known for while possessing considerably more acidity. As a consequence, 2022 is the best vintage for Washington white wines since 2008.
Several recent strong white wine vintages provide interesting contrasts. 2010 was a cool year where phenolic maturity preceded Brix accumulation. The results were exceptional white wines as well as the most ageable reds since the 1999 vintage.
The 2017 vintage had a cool finish that allowed for acid retention but flavors were considerably more elegant. 2018, meanwhile, had more ripeness of fruit flavor but less acidity. Finally, 2019 had more acid but less fruit intensity.
2022 was a Goldilocks vintage, with ripe fruit flavors and, in some cases, electric acidity. It’s a benchmark year for white wines in Washington.
Below, I provide a baker’s dozen standout white wines from the 2022 vintage in Washington. There are more in the review database. Expect to see more barrel aged whites released in 2024.
NB: Many of the wines below are still available. Some are sold out.