Senators Cantwell, Crapo call for action on designation for Lewis-Clark Valley wine producers

American Viticulture Area designation pending for 358 days and counting

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) urged the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to move quickly in approving the Lewis-Clark Valley’s designation as an American Viticulture Area (AVA). The AVA designation recognizes a wine-grape growing and production area that is distinguished for its unique geography and climate. 

Although past designations have taken seven months to process, the Lewis-Clark Valley’s petition has been held in limbo by the TTB for 358 days. 

Further delay “poses considerable and unnecessary risk for the many stakeholders in the region,” the Senators wrote. Prompt action would “provide clarity and certainty for grape growers, wine producers and community stakeholders throughout the covered regions in Washington and Idaho.”

Since 2009, the Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Alliance, a group of wine grape growers, wineries, and economic development and tourism organizations, has worked with community stakeholders and the TTB to secure an AVA designation for the area. 

“Washington wine growers appreciate Senators Cantwell and Crapo’s help in getting our petition approved. The Lewis-Clark Valley AVA will be Washington State’s 14th AVA and is important to the continued strong growth of the Washington State wine industry. By securing this designation, we can help ensure the success of our great wines and the jobs it supports,” said Steve Warner, President or the Washington State Wine Commission.

"The proposed Lewis-Clark Valley AVA has a distinct terroir encompassing over 300,000 acres in which 81 acres are made up of vineyards. The potential economic impact of the AVA could provide a great boost to the local economy, in addition to shinning a light on the high quality wines coming from this region. I am happy to see both Senator Cantwell and Senator Crapo support this proposal,” said Moya Dolsby, Executive Director of the Idaho Wine Commission

With this year’s cut-off point for bottling quickly approaching, a slow approval process poses significant risks for producers in the Lewis-Clark Valley. The wine industry in Washington contributes more than five billion dollars in economic impact to the state and supports more than 25,000 jobs.

The Lewis-Clark AVA would consist of parts of Asotin, Garfield and Whitman County in Washington, as well as Nez Perce, Clearwater, Latah and Lewis County in Idaho.

Full letter can be viewed here.