Washington’s White Wines for the Adventurous

If you’re part of the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd, grab a glass and take a journey through an exotic landscape filled with flourishing blossoms and their enticing perfume, along with captivating textures. Close your eyes, tip your head back, then surrender to the bright flavors swirling around. Without further ado, here are seventeen of Washington’s white wines for the adventurous along with some reliable producers.

Why not make a game of it? Give yourself one point for each Washington grown variety you’ve tasted in a blend. Or, since these wines are such rare treasures, earn three points for each variety you’ve experienced in its untainted glory.


Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills was the first vineyard in Washington State to plant Albarino grapes back in 2006. Perhaps then it’s no coincidence that the first Washington Albarino I sampled was from the Prosser based winery. This was waaaay back when I first started doing social media and was invited to a tweetup preview of the Seattle Wine Awards. I was so smitten with the refreshing wine that we soon after visited the tasting room and toured the breathtaking vineyards with owner Mike Andrews.

Pair with: shellfish and sunny days.

Chenin Blanc

I hear tales that Chenin vines have been pulled out in order to plant other, more financially advantageous varieties. Sigh. It’s hard not to ponder how Walla Walla trail blazer L’Ecole No. 41 manages to consistently offer a quality example of the unsung grape for under $20. It’s like a tropical fruit salad in a glass.

Try this if:  you want a lean wine that is one of the most food friendly varieties.

Clairette Blanche

Tranche’s Blue Mountain Estate Vineyard in Walla Walla grows this variety to incorporate into the winery’s benchmark Rhône-style white, Pape Blanc.

When Charlie and Lacey Lybecker moved their Cairdeas Winery to the Lake Chelan region, Clairette was one of the first grapes they planted and they use it to make an epic sparkling wine.

Grenache Blanc

This palate pick-me-up was a selection for a private virtual tasting I conducted and it was a crowd pleaser! Lisa Callan, owner and winemaker of Callan Cellars, crafts both Grenache Blanc and Picpoul (see below) from highly coveted Boushey Vineyards fruit. Take a sip of this wine and don’t be surprised if you think you just swallowed a bite of a crisp green apple. Why Grenache Blanc? She asked for Picpoul but it wasn’t available at the time. Lucky us!

Pair with: Hold the Mayo Tuna Salad.


Furmint is typically associated with Hungary’s golden nectar, Tokaji, a sweet dessert wine. However, it’s also transformed into delectable dry wines. This special variety recently showed up in the Gorge AVA thanks to Syncline Wine Cellars. Their first harvest of this variety recently happened and I can’t wait to try it!


This variety’s heady aromatics are exotic and enticing. A sip is akin to feasting on tropical fruit in the middle of a rose garden in full bloom. A favorite – and off dry sparkling – version of this grape comes from Treveri Cellars, a family-owned dedicated sparkling wine house in the Yakima Valley. It’s also a great deal at under $20 a bottle.

Pair with: brunch, Asian cuisine, or weeknights.

Gruner Veltliner

My heart races whenever I come across this zippy variety! Often referred to by its fans as “Gru V” (yeah, it’s groovy!), this is one of the most important varieties in Austria. It’s also a mouth-watering, savory wine, often with notes of pepper. Columbia Gorge based Syncline bottles an excellent example. Some grapes go into a concrete egg for leanness and structure. Others go into acacia puncheons. The result is a juxtaposition between energetic freshness and weightiness along with beautiful melon and a chalky minerality.

If Syncline’s plantings of thrilling uncommon varieties isn’t enough to intrigue you, consider their dedication to farming their vineyards with eco-friendly practices. Their thoughtful work has earned them a spot in the Slow Wine Guide USA.

Pair with: asparagus and dishes accented with herbs such as tarragon.

Madeleine Angevine

This honeysuckle tinged grape is an early ripener that grows well in the Puget Sound AVA’s maritime climate. That’s right, grapes are grown in the Puget Sound region! In fact, this pretty variety is estate grown at Slow Wine Guide USA award winner Bainbridge Vineyards.


A fleshy and rich variety that often exhibits a waxy character, Marsanne is often blended with other white varieties associated with France’s Rhône region. VinoSocial client Damsel Cellars bottles this variety and it’s a great complement to the Hollywood tasting room’s cheese selections!

Muller Thurgau

In case you’re not familiar, Muller sounds like Bueller, as in Ferris Bueller – the very one that took an infamous day off. This fragrant, lavish white variety evokes spring. This is another wine that can be found at Bainbridge Vineyards where they’ve crafted estate wines for over 40 years.

Muscat Canelli

I had to include this here for sentimental reasons. Chateau Ste. Michelle used to regularly bottle this variety and offer it these days as a limited release. When my parents discovered this sweet aromatic wine back in the day they poured it at holiday meals.

Orange Muscat

If there ever was a wine that smells like spring in bloom, this is it! There is an enticing bottling available from Lake Chelan’s Hard Row to Hoe Vineyeards.

Pair with:  brunch to complement ricotta stuffed French toast, cheese blintzes, or a cheese plate.


Picardan is a very rare white Rhône varietal and Cairdeas Winery is the only vineyard in Washington state that has it thanks to Tablas Creek Vineyards in Paso Robles. It’s terrific, too, soft and awash in honeydew melon flavor.


This refreshing variety from southwest France is typically dry and redolent of zingy acidity. To experience the influence of the Yakima Valley on the variety, head to family owned Muret-Gaston winery.


The Otis Kenyon Roussanne was one of my Top 10 Wines back at the 2018 Wine Blogger Conference (now Wine Media Conference).

Pair with scallops and risotto.


This variety is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauv Blanc brings sharpness while Semillon rounds things out. On its own, Semillon makes a great gateway wine for those wanting to venture off the Chardonnay path. It can have a bit of a waxy character that adds an interesting textural component.

Pair with:  fondue parties.


In my opinion, this pretty variety bred in the Alsace region is one of Washington State’s best kept secrets. Back when I was a wine buyer for a shop, I often kept the aromatic Siegerrebe (Zee-gar-RAH-beh) from Lopez Island Vineyards in stock and poured it at cooking classes with seafood and Asian cuisine.

So, how many of these white wines have you tasted? Head on over to Twitter/X or Instagram, share your results, and show the love for these alternative varieties.

Additional Reading

Did you enjoy Washington’s white wines for the adventurous? If you’re thirsty for more, check out Oregon’s alternative wines for the adventurous.

Also, my friend Kat aka The Corkscrew Concierge wrote a popular post about her experience in Washington that introduced her to some of these varieties.

Read more about the fantastic alt varieties being grown and bottled by Syncline via an in-depth article by Crushed Grape Chronicles.

Please don’t take offense if you don’t consider these grapes as obscure or alt varieties. I took flack for that on social media back when I posted about 20 fun red Washington wine varieties you need to try. Remember, the focus here is on Washington State. Besides, this is all meant in good fun!