- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) — Like the vast majority of the 400-plus wineries in the state, Olympic Cellars has always obtained its grapes from vineyards in hot, dry eastern Washington, which has gained a reputation as some of the nation’s best wine country.

Now, Olympic Cellars owner Kathy Charlton has commissioned a study aimed at refuting the notion that good wine grapes can’t be grown on the wet side of the Cascade Range and finding a valuable crop to preserve farmland under increasing development pressure.

“Western Washington is the great untapped vineyard resource,” said Keith Love, a spokesman for the state’s most prominent winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle. “The potential is there, but there hasn’t been enough research done. We are glad somebody’s able to do it.”

Washington is the nation’s second-biggest wine producer, behind California. More than 30,000 acres are devoted to wine-grape growing in the state, but less than 1 percent of that is in western Washington.

At Miss Charlton’s request, Southern Oregon University professor Greg Jones is studying the climate and soils of the Olympic Peninsula, hoping to identify the best spots to grow grapes.

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