Since it began in the 1820s, wine-production in Washington state has gone from strength to strength, with many of the finest United States wines coming out over the past twenty years hailing from this region. Today, the state is the second largest US producer of wines, behind California, with over forty thousand acres under vine. The state itself is split into two distinct wine regions, separated by the Cascade Range, which casts an important rain shadow over much of the area. As such, the vast majority of vines are grown and cultivated in the dry, arid desert-like area in the eastern half of the state, with the western half producing less than one percent of the state's wines where it is considerably wetter. Washington state is famed for producing many of the most accessible wines of the country, with Merlot and Chardonnay varietal grapes leading the way, and much experimentation with other varietals characterizing the state's produce in the twenty-first century. Washington State is one of the United States' most important and internationally renowned wine producing areas, and within the state, we find the AVA of Yakima Valley, where over forty percent of the Washington's wines are produced. Yakima Valley was first recognized as an official American Viticultural Area in the early 1980's, but was been grapevines and producing wine several decades earlier, being something of an ideal location for viticulture. Due to its great climatic conditions and mineral rich, dry soils, Yakima Valley is capable of supporting a wide range of fine grape varietals, including the ever popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and others. As such, the region produces a stunning array of different, high quality wines, and is regularly lauded with prizes and praise from the international wine community.