Candy Mountain AVA

Candy Mountain AVA

46° 14' 24" N


119° 28' 48" W




about this subregion

Candy Mountain AVA

As the 16th AVA established in Washington state, Candy Mountain is one of the newest and smallest wine regions in the area. Candy Mountain AVA is entirely within the Yakima Valley AVA. The Candy Mountain AVA is also part of the larger  Columbia Valley AVA in the southeastern of Washington. Candy Mountain AVA is adjacent to the eastern boundary of Goose Gap AVA and a few miles southeast of Red Mountain AVA. This AVA benefits from the broader region's favorable conditions while having its unique characteristics that make it ideal for viticulture.

It was formally established on September 24, 2020, by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).The establishment of the Candy Mountain AVA allows vintners to use "Candy Mountain," "Yakima Valley," and "Columbia Valley" as appellations of origin on their wine labels, provided that the wines meet the applicable requirements


The climate of Candy Mountain AVA is characterized by several key features:

  • Warm growing conditions, with average daytime growing temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and average nighttime temperatures of 40 degrees. The warm days allow grapes to ripen fully, while the cooler nights help maintain acidity
  • A longer growing season, compaed to surrounding areas, due to very good cold air drainage, provides ample time for grape development.
  • A warmer microclimate than other areas within the Yakima Valley AVA, particularly with regard to minimum low temperatures.
  • Low average annual rainfall of 150-200 mm (6-8 inches), occurring almost entirely in the winter and spring months, which reduces the risk of fungal diseases and allows for controlled irrigation
  • Approximately 300 days of sunshine each year, including winter months.
  • Higher winds compared to the surrounding area, similar to the neighboring Red Mountain AVA.
  • Significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, with nighttime temperatures dropping considerably, which helps preserve acid levels in the grapes.
  • A desert climate, requiring irrigation for vineyards.
  • The Yakima River provides a moderating effect on temperatures, and cool air flowing from northern elevations across the hillside vineyards prevents overheating of grapes and reduces frost damage.

These climatic conditions, combined with the AVA's southwest-facing slopes and elevation (ranging from 640 to 1,320 feet above sea level), create an environment that is particularly favorable for grape growing, especially for red wine varieties.


The soils in Candy Mountain AVA are diverse and contribute to the unique terroir. Loess, a fine windblown silt, is prevalent and provides excellent drainage while retaining sufficient moisture. Windblown silt and sand also ensure good drainage and encourage deep root growth, enhancing vine resilience. Additionally, sediments from the Ice Age floods, comprising gravel, silt, sand, and clay, offer a nutrient-rich environment that supports healthy vine growth and complex flavor development.

Main Grape Varieties

The primary grape varieties grown in the Candy Mountain AVA include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, and Chardonnay. These grapes thrive in the region's warm climate and diverse soils, producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the AVA.


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Vineyard Hectares



2000-2200 GDD


Discover Terroir

Landscape of the Candy Mountain AVA

The Candy Mountain AVA is located in the southeastern part of Washington State, near the Tri-Cities area. This AVA is known for its distinct and varied landscape, which plays a crucial role in the region's viticulture.

Rolling Hills and Elevation

The landscape of Candy Mountain AVA is characterized by rolling hills that create a varied topography. Elevations range from approximately 195 to 415 meters (640 to 1,360 feet) above sea level. These hills provide excellent drainage and create diverse microclimates, which are beneficial for growing different grape varieties.

Desert-like Terrain and Vegetation

The region features a desert-like terrain with sparse vegetation. Native plants such as sagebrush, grasses, and other drought-resistant species dominate the landscape. This arid environment is typical of the broader Columbia Valley and contributes to the unique terroir of the Candy Mountain AVA.

Proximity to the Columbia River

The Candy Mountain AVA is situated near the Columbia River. The river's proximity helps moderate temperatures and provides a reliable water source for irrigation. The scenic riverbanks add to the overall beauty of the region.

Vineyard Views

Vineyards are a prominent feature of the Candy Mountain AVA. Neatly aligned rows of grapevines stretch across the hillsides, creating a picturesque and orderly appearance. These vineyards are interspersed with patches of natural vegetation, forming a mosaic of cultivated and wild areas.

Panoramic Vistas

The elevated terrain of Candy Mountain offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding areas. From various vantage points, one can enjoy expansive views of the Columbia River, nearby cities, and distant mountain ranges. These wide-open vistas contribute to a sense of openness and vastness.

Natural Landmarks

The AVA includes natural landmarks such as rock outcroppings and geological formations. These features add to the rugged beauty of the landscape and provide a glimpse into the region's geological history.

The Candy Mountain AVA’s landscape, with its rolling hills, desert-like terrain, proximity to the Columbia River, vineyard views, panoramic vistas, and natural landmarks, creates a distinctive and visually striking environment that enhances the region's suitability for high-quality wine production.

Climate of the Candy Mountain AVA

The climate of the Candy Mountain AVA, located in southeastern Washington State, is characterized by several key factors that contribute to its suitability for viticulture. Here are the main climatic features:

Warm Temperatures

Candy Mountain AVA experiences warm temperatures throughout the growing season. The region benefits from long, hot summers with temperatures often reaching into the high 80s to mid-90s Fahrenheit (30-35°C) during the day, thanks to its south-facing orientation that enhancing solar radiation. These warm temperatures are essential for ripening many of the grape varieties grown in the AVA.

Diurnal Temperature Variation

One of the defining climatic features of the Candy Mountain AVA is the significant diurnal temperature variation. This refers to the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. While the days can be quite hot, nights tend to cool down significantly, often dropping into the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit (10-15°C). This variation helps maintain acidity in the grapes, which is crucial for producing balanced wines.

Low Rainfall

The Candy Mountain AVA receives relatively low annual rainfall, averaging around 150-200 millimeters (6-8 inches) per year. Most of this precipitation occurs during the winter months, with the growing season remaining quite dry. The low rainfall reduces the risk of fungal diseases and allows for controlled irrigation practices.

Long Growing Season

The region enjoys a long growing season, typically lasting from April to October. The extended period of warm weather allows grapes to develop fully, achieving optimal ripeness and flavor concentration. The long growing season is particularly beneficial for late-ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.


The Candy Mountain AVA receives abundant sunshine, with clear skies prevailing for much of the year. This ample sunlight is vital for photosynthesis, ensuring that the grapevines produce enough energy to ripen the fruit. The high levels of sunlight also contribute to the development of rich color and flavor in the grapes.


The region can experience moderate to strong winds, particularly in the spring and early summer. These winds help to cool the vines during hot days and can reduce humidity levels, further decreasing the risk of disease. However, strong winds can also pose challenges, such as causing damage to young vines or fruit.

Most Common Soils in the Candy Mountain AVA

The Candy Mountain AVA, part of the Washington wine region, is known for its distinctive terroir, which is influenced not only by its climate and landscape but also by its diverse soil types. The following are the most common soils found in this AVA, each contributing uniquely to the characteristics of the wines produced here.

  1. Loess: Loess is a fine, windblown silt that is one of the most prevalent soil types in the Candy Mountain AVA. This soil is composed of small, fine particles that create a well-drained environment, ideal for grapevines. The loess soil retains moisture well, providing a consistent water supply to the vines during the dry growing season. Its mineral content contributes to the complexity and minerality of the wines.
  2. Windblown Silt and Sand: In addition to loess, windblown silt and sand are also common in the Candy Mountain AVA. These soils are formed by the deposition of fine particles carried by the wind. The sandy component ensures excellent drainage, preventing water from pooling around the vine roots. This type of soil forces the vines to grow deeper roots to access water, which can result in more resilient vines and more concentrated flavors in the grapes.
  3. Ice Age Flood Sediment: The Candy Mountain AVA also features soils that were deposited by the Ice Age floods. These sediments include a mix of gravel, silt, sand, and clay, providing a diverse and nutrient-rich environment for grapevines. The gravelly components improve drainage, while the finer particles help retain essential nutrients and moisture. This variety in soil composition supports healthy vine growth and contributes to the development of complex flavors in the wine.


Most Common Grapes of the Candy Mountain AVA

The Candy Mountain AVA is one of the notable American Viticultural Areas within the Washington state. Established in 2020, this small but significant AVA is known for its warm climate, well-drained soils, and varied topography, making it ideal for growing high-quality grape vines.

Most Common Red Grapes

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is the most prominent grape in the Candy Mountain AVA. It requires a warm climate with plenty of sunlight to fully ripen. The well-drained soils of Candy Mountain help prevent waterlogging, which is crucial for this grape. Cabernet Sauvignon vines benefit from the region's long growing season, which allows for the gradual development of the grapes. The altitude variation within the AVA provides optimal conditions for growing this grape, with cooler nights helping to maintain acidity.
  • Merlot: Merlot also thrives in the warm, dry climate of Candy Mountain. This grape variety prefers well-drained soils and benefits from the AVA’s low rainfall, which helps reduce the risk of diseases. The moderate elevation of the vineyards ensures that Merlot grapes receive sufficient sunlight, while the diurnal temperature variation helps in balancing the sugar and acidity levels. These conditions are ideal for producing high-quality Merlot grapes.
  • Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Franc is another important red grape in Candy Mountain. This variety is more tolerant of cooler temperatures than Cabernet Sauvignon, but still benefits from the warm days and cool nights of the AVA. The well-drained soils and controlled irrigation practices in the region help in managing the water intake, crucial for preventing overly vigorous growth and ensuring balanced grape development.
  • Syrah: Syrah vines flourish in the hot, dry climate of Candy Mountain. This grape requires a lot of heat to ripen fully, and the AVA's climate provides ample warmth. The altitude and varied topography allow for diverse microclimates, which can be advantageous for growing Syrah. The region’s low humidity and well-drained soils help in maintaining vine health and reducing the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Malbec: Malbec benefits from the warm climate and well-drained soils of Candy Mountain. This grape variety requires sufficient heat to achieve full ripeness, and the AVA’s long growing season provides just that. The elevation helps in moderating the temperature, ensuring that Malbec grapes develop good acidity and structure. Controlled irrigation is essential for Malbec, as it is sensitive to both drought and excessive moisture.

Most Common White Grapes

  • Chardonnay: Chardonnay is the primary white grape variety in the Candy Mountain AVA. This grape is versatile and can adapt to various climatic conditions, but it thrives in the warm, sunny climate of Candy Mountain. The well-drained soils prevent waterlogging, while the elevation provides cooler temperatures at night, which helps in preserving the grape's natural acidity. The controlled water stress during the growing season is beneficial for producing high-quality Chardonnay grapes.

The unique conditions of the Candy Mountain AVA, including its warm climate, well-drained soils, and varied topography, create an ideal environment for cultivating these grape varieties.

The Most Common Wines from the Candy Mountain AVA

The Candy Mountain AVA, part of the Washington state, is renowned for its ability to produce exceptional wines. The unique climate and soil conditions contribute to the development of distinctive wines that showcase the best of their grape varieties. The AVA’s wines are characterized by their rich flavors and aromatic complexity. Below is an overview of the most common wines from this region, organized into red and white wines.

Most Common Red Wines

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon from Candy Mountain is known for its deep, rich flavors and robust structure. The wine typically exhibits aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, and plum, with underlying notes of cedar, tobacco, and sometimes a hint of mint. On the palate, it is full-bodied with firm tannins and a long, smooth finish. This wine is often composed entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, highlighting the purity of the varietal.
  2. Merlot: Merlot from this AVA offers a softer and more approachable profile. The aromatic bouquet includes ripe red fruits such as cherry and raspberry, with subtle hints of cocoa and vanilla. The flavor profile is smooth and velvety, with medium tannins and a balanced acidity that make it an easy-drinking wine. The wine is typically 100% Merlot, showcasing the varietal's natural fruitiness and charm.
  3. Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Franc wines from Candy Mountain are appreciated for their aromatic complexity and elegance. The nose reveals aromas of red berries, such as raspberry and strawberry, with herbal notes of bell pepper and hints of violets. The palate is medium-bodied with refined tannins and a fresh, slightly spicy finish. These wines are usually made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, emphasizing their distinctive herbal and floral characteristics.
  4. Syrah: Syrah wines from this AVA are bold and expressive. They feature intense aromas of blackberry, blueberry, and black pepper, with underlying smoky and meaty notes. On the palate, these wines are full-bodied with a rich, velvety texture and well-integrated tannins. The flavor profile often includes dark fruit, licorice, and a touch of chocolate. Syrah wines are generally composed entirely of Syrah grapes, highlighting their powerful and spicy character.
  5. Malbec: Malbec wines from Candy Mountain are vibrant and flavorful. They present aromas of black cherry, plum, and blueberry, with hints of mocha and tobacco. The palate is rich and smooth, with medium to full body and soft tannins. The finish is long and satisfying, with lingering dark fruit flavors. These wines are typically made from 100% Malbec grapes, showcasing their deep color and lush fruit profile.

Most Common White Wines

Chardonnay: Chardonnay from the Candy Mountain AVA is known for its balance and complexity. The aromatic profile includes notes of green apple, pear, and citrus, with hints of vanilla and butter from oak aging. On the palate, it is medium to full-bodied with a creamy texture and well-balanced acidity. The flavor profile often features a combination of fruit and subtle oak, creating a harmonious and elegant wine. Chardonnay wines are usually made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, highlighting their versatility and ability to express the terroir.

Candy Mountain AVA’s unique terroir allows for the production of these distinctive wines, each offering a rich and complex profile.