Betz Family Winery was founded in Woodinville, Washington, in 1997, by Bob and Cathy Betz. In the early 1970s the then young couple traveled through Europe’s great wine regions working in wineries and vineyards. In 1975 Bob started working at Chateau St. Michelle, where he eventually became Vice President of Winemaking Research. But he and his wife wanted their own winery, so they began sourcing grapes from Washington’s best appellations. Betz Family Winery specializes in Syrah and Rhone style wines, though it also produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that Bob Betz “makes some of Washington’s best Syrah…”
Columbia Valley AVA is larger than some states. At 18,000 square miles, or 11 million acres, the appellation covers almost half of Washington State and a small part of Oregon on the south side of the Columbia River. Established in 1984, Columbia Valley contains numerous sub appellations within its boundaries, including Yakima Valley AVA and Walla Walla AVA, both large and important wine districts. Columbia Valley AVA, generally called the Columbia Basin by Pacific Northwesterners, is in the Columbia River Plateau, and the AVA also includes a section of northeastern Oregon. There are dozens of microclimates within this appellation of about 7,000 vineyard acres. Many kinds of grapes are grown in the Columbia Valley, though the principal grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Eastern Washington experiences very hot summers and cold winters, and the northern latitude means that Washington vineyards receive several more hours of sun in the summer than California vineyards. Grapes in Washington therefore have time to develop significant tannins and overall ripeness.