Puget Sound AVA

Puget Sound AVA

47°36'00'' N


122°19'00'' W




about this subregion

Puget Sound AVA Overview

The Puget Sound AVA, located in the Washington wine region, is unique for being the state’s only growing region west of the Cascade Mountains. This AVA encompasses a vast area from the Canadian border in the north through Seattle to Olympia, the state’s capital, in the south. The region includes numerous islands and is defined by its distinct climate and soil composition.


The Puget Sound AVA features a temperate maritime climate, which is cooler and wetter compared to other Washington wine regions. The area experiences mild, wet winters with most precipitation occurring between November and April. Summers are typically warm and dry, with temperatures rarely exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The average annual precipitation ranges from 15 to 60 inches, allowing many vineyards to dry farm without the need for irrigation.

The predominant soil type in the Puget Sound AVA is gravelly sandy loam over glacial hardpan. This combination provides excellent drainage, promotes deep root growth, and ensures a consistent water supply during dry periods. The gravelly sandy loam allows for good aeration and root penetration, while the glacial hardpan retains moisture and contributes essential minerals to the soil.

Main Grape Varieties

The Puget Sound AVA is well-suited for cool-climate grape varieties. The main grapes grown in this region include:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Regent
  • Madeleine Angevine
  • Müller-Thurgau
  • Siegerrebe

These varieties thrive in the AVA’s unique climate and soil conditions, contributing to the distinct character of the wines produced in this region.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares





Discover Terroir

Location of the Puget Sound AVA

The Puget Sound AVA is situated in the northwestern part of Washington state. It is the only AVA in Washington located west of the Cascade Mountains, encompassing a vast and diverse landscape that includes both land and water features.

Geographical Extent

The AVA covers approximately 5.5 million acres, making it one of the largest AVAs in Washington. The region stretches from the Canadian border in the north to Olympia, the state capital, in the south. It extends about 190 miles from north to south and up to 60 miles from east to west, although it is generally narrower​​​​.

Key Features

  • Islands: The Puget Sound AVA includes numerous islands such as Bainbridge Island, Whidbey Island and San Juan Islands, among others. These islands contribute to the region's unique viticultural characteristics.
  • Water Bodies: The region is characterized by an extensive system of fjords and inlets. Puget Sound itself is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, with significant saltwater and freshwater areas, totaling about 1,500 square miles of saltwater and 150 square miles of freshwater​​​​.
  • Mountains and Foothills: The proximity to the Cascade and Olympic Mountains provides a varied topography with coastal plains, rolling hills, and foothills. This diverse terrain influences the microclimates within the AVA​​​​.

Urban and Rural Areas

The Puget Sound AVA includes major urban centers such as Seattle and Bellingham, as well as numerous rural and agricultural areas. The mix of urban and rural landscapes supports a variety of viticultural practices and contributes to the region's dynamic wine industry​​​​.

The Puget Sound AVA is a large, diverse viticultural area located in northwestern Washington state. It encompasses a variety of landscapes, including islands, water bodies, mountains, and urban centers. This unique combination of geographical features creates a distinctive environment for wine production, making it an important region in Washington's wine industry​​​​​​​​.

Climate of the Puget Sound AVA

The Puget Sound AVA, located in northwestern Washington state, is characterized by a temperate maritime climate, which distinguishes it from the more arid or semi-arid climates found in other Washington wine regions east of the Cascade Mountains.

Temperature and Precipitation

The climate in the Puget Sound AVA features mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The region receives most of its annual rainfall between November and April, with November being the wettest month. During this period, the area experiences about 80% of its annual precipitation. In contrast, the summer months of June, July, and August are typically the driest, with temperatures rarely exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit​​​​.

Rainfall Distribution

The average annual precipitation in the Puget Sound AVA varies significantly, ranging from 15 to 60 inches, depending on specific locations within the region. The Olympic Mountains provide some rain shadow effect, which reduces rainfall in certain areas, while a convergence zone in central Puget Sound, particularly in Snohomish and northern King counties, can lead to increased precipitation​​​​.

Growing Degree Days (GDD)

The Puget Sound AVA accumulates between 1600 and 2000 Growing Degree Days (GDD) annually, which is suitable for growing cool-climate grape varieties. This heat accumulation is lower than that required for ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon but enough for grapes such as Pinot Noir, Madeleine Angevine, and Siegerrebe​​​​.

Climate Comparisons

The Puget Sound AVA's climate is often compared to other cool-climate regions such as the Loire Valley in France, Champagne, and Chablis. This similarity supports the cultivation of early-ripening grape varieties, which can thrive in the relatively cool and wet conditions of the region​​​​.

Most Common Soils in the Puget Sound AVA

The Puget Sound AVA boasts a unique terroir very influenced by its soil composition. The predominant soils in this region are gravelly sandy loam over glacial hardpan. These soils play a key role in the character of the wines produced in this AVA.

  1. Gravelly Sandy Loam: Gravelly sandy loam is a well-draining soil type that consists of a mix of sand, silt, and clay, with a substantial presence of gravel. This composition provides excellent drainage, which is essential for preventing waterlogging and root diseases. The sandy component ensures good aeration, while the gravel improves drainage and root penetration. These soils are typically nutrient-poor, which forces the vine roots to grow deeper in search of nutrients, promoting healthier and more resilient vines. This soil type is ideal for cool-climate grape varieties, which are prevalent in the Puget Sound AVA.
  2. Glacial Hardpan: Beneath the gravelly sandy loam lies the glacial hardpan, a dense, compacted layer formed during the last glacial period. This hardpan can impede deep root growth but provides a stable foundation that retains moisture during dry periods. The presence of the hardpan helps maintain a consistent water supply, which is particularly beneficial during the dry summer months. The glacial origin of this hardpan means it also contains a variety of minerals that can contribute to the complexity of the wines produced from these soils.

The combination of gravelly sandy loam over glacial hardpan creates a unique soil environment in the Puget Sound AVA. This soil structure provides excellent drainage, promotes deep root growth, and ensures a consistent water supply, which are critical factors for the growth of high-quality grapes. 


The Most Common Grapes of the Puget Sound AVA

The Puget Sound AVA is distinguished by its cool maritime climate. This region is particularly suitable for certain wine grapes that thrive in environments with cooler temperatures and high amounts of rainfall. 

Most Common Red Grapes

  1. Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is the most planted red grape in the Puget Sound AVA. It requires a cooler climate to prevent over-ripening, which is why it thrives in this region. Pinot Noir needs well-drained soils and benefits from the moderate temperatures that prevent the grapes from developing too much sugar while maintaining necessary acidity levels. Pinot Noir vines are typically planted on slopes with good air circulation to minimize the risk of fungal diseases, which are more prevalent in wetter climates.
  2. Regent: Regent is a relatively new red grape variety gaining popularity in the Puget Sound AVA. It is known for its high resistance to fungal diseases, making it well-suited to the region's wet climate. This grape prefers fertile, well-drained soils and requires a moderate climate to achieve optimal growth. Regent vines are robust and can tolerate a variety of soil types, although they perform best in locations with good sun exposure to ensure adequate ripening within the shorter growing season.

Most Common White Grapes

  1. Madeleine Angevine: Madeleine Angevine is a white grape variety that adapts well to the cool, maritime climate of the Puget Sound AVA. It is an early ripening grape, which makes it ideal for regions with shorter growing seasons. This variety prefers well-drained soils and can tolerate the high humidity and rainfall typical of the area. The vines are relatively hardy and require minimal intervention, making them a reliable choice for growers in this AVA.
  2. Müller-Thurgau: Müller-Thurgau is another early ripening white grape that is well-suited to the Puget Sound AVA’s climate. It requires fertile, well-drained soils and benefits from the cool temperatures that help maintain its natural acidity. The grape is less tolerant of extreme temperatures and needs protection from the excessive moisture that can lead to fungal infections. Müller-Thurgau vines are often planted in locations that offer good air circulation to mitigate these risks.
  3. Siegerrebe: Siegerrebe, known for its early ripening properties, is a perfect match for the Puget Sound AVA. This white grape variety thrives in cooler climates and prefers well-drained, fertile soils. The vines require careful management to protect against fungal diseases, which are more common in the region’s humid conditions. Siegerrebe benefits from the region’s long daylight hours during the growing season, which aids in achieving the necessary ripeness.

The Puget Sound AVA, with its distinctive climate and geographical conditions, supports the growth of different wine grapes, well-suited to cool and wet environments.

Most Common Wines from the Puget Sound AVA

The wines produced in the Puget Sound AVA are known for their distinctive aromatic and flavor profiles, shaped by the region's cool, maritime climate.

Most Common Red Wines

  1. Pinot Noir: Wines made from Pinot Noir in the Puget Sound AVA often exhibit a medium body with refreshing acidity. They typically have notes of cherry fruit, dried herbs, and earthy undertones, making them distinct from the more intense reds from other parts of Washington​​.
  2. Regent: Regent wines are characterized by a complex aromatic profile that includes notes of sea breeze, light purple fruits, and floral scents, with subtle hints of barnyard adding depth. The flavor profile features bright, puckering acidity balanced by soft tannins, and includes flavors of red fruits like cherry and raspberry, with a light smoky note lingering on the finish. These wines are generally light-bodied yet well-structured, reflecting the unique terroir of the cool, maritime climate of the Puget Sound region​​​​​​.

Most Common White Wines

  1. Madeleine Angevine: This grape produces light white wines with fresh acidity, often featuring notes of green apple and lemon-lime. These wines are particularly popular with Northwest seafood, such as Puget Sound oysters, due to their palate-cleansing properties. They are also favored as summer wines because of their lower alcohol content​​.
  2. Müller-Thurgau: Wines from this grape are usually light and crisp, benefiting from the cool climate to maintain their natural acidity. They often feature subtle fruit flavors that are well-balanced by their acidity​​​​.
  3. Siegerrebe: Siegerrebe wines are highly aromatic, with notes of guava, fresh green grapes, and peach, complemented by sweet floral scents. On the palate, these wines can have bright flavors reminiscent of mango, peach, Meyer lemon, and a hint of honey, providing a pleasant weight on the finish​​​​.