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Chelan wineries crush it, now popular tourist draw
By CARY ORDWAY
With North Central Washington long known for its superb 1soil and climate for growing fruit, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out that grapes would grow well here, too. At Lake Chelan, that magic moment came in 1998 when Bob Christopher and Steve Kludt opened the first production vineyards in this already popular tourist area.

When those initial vineyards proved viable, other growers followed suit with more vineyards, which begat wineries which begat even more tourists which begat even more tourist dollars.

And the local chamber of commerce saw that it was good.

Fast forward to 2014 and there are 21 wineries that are now part of the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance, a trade organization created to market the lake region's wineries to the rest of the state and indeed the world. An entire industry has risen up where there was none before, a delectable combination of wineries, tasting rooms, restaurants and events including frequent dinners, parties and concerts. Apples, cherries and pears were never this much fun.

Altogether there are now 250 acres of vineyards in the Lake Chelan Valley and, since 2009, the area has been designated an American Viticultural Area – meaning itís a grape-growing region capable of producing darn good wine. The designation is not just given to anybody, you know – you have to prove youíve got the goods. It actually took four years for the federal government to proclaim the Lake Chelan AVA (meaning, of course, anybody else could have done it in two weeks).

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