Like wine from France's Rhone Valley? Head to Walla Walla

This Aug. 11, 2019 photo shows the rose menu at the SMAK Wines tasting room near the Walla Walla, Washington, airport. Southeastern Washington has been producing high-quality wines for decades. But in the past five years, the wineries of the Walla Walla Valley have drawn international accolades for the reds produced from the unique soil just across the border in Oregon. (AP Photo/Sally Carpenter Hale)

A trip to Washington state led to us tasting some of these distinctive red wines of the regions, as well as wines from the greater Walla Walla Valley.

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Southeastern Washington has been producing high-quality wines for decades. But in the past five years, the wineries of the Walla Walla Valley have drawn international accolades for the reds produced from the unique soil just across the border in Oregon.

Grapes grown in the six square miles known as The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater absorb the minerals from the distinctive basalt cobblestones, resulting in savory, earthy wines that have been compared to those of France's northern Rhone Valley.

More than 120 wineries now dot the golden fields of the valley, and the resulting tourism has transformed Walla Walla, which has grown to a population of about 33,000. There are 39 tasting rooms in downtown Walla Walla alone, with more clustered near the airport and south of town.

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