Those residing in or visiting Seattle have easy access to over 100 tasting rooms in Woodinville Wine Country; however, the majority of Washington State’s vineyards reside on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. When the yearning to sip closer to the vines arises, we head to the Yakima Valley. The region offers the wine lover plenty to taste and explore. It also happens to be on the way to Walla Walla, luring us to stop and “stretch our legs” during the longer road trip.
Our first stop in the Yakima Valley after leaving Seattle is at family owned Treveri Cellars in Wapato where they speciallize in sparkling wines crafted in the traditional method. After a two and a half hour drive from Seattle we are ready for some refreshment!
If Walla Walla is the ultimate destination, Treveri is about half way there. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a lunch of flat breads with a glass of bubbles or one of their innovative sparkling concoctions such as the Trevijito featuring muddled mint topped with the sparkling Riesling.
Be sure to stock up on Treveri’s fantastic sparkling wines crafted with traditional AND non-traditional grape varieties (sparkling Syrah or Gewurtztraminer anyone?). Most selections are $20 or less and crafted in the traditional method.
Next on our itinerary is another family operation, Côte Bonneville. Housed in a restored historic train station about 20 minutes “down the road” in Sunnyside, the tasting room offers a bright, updated interior. We never miss a chance to taste the extravagant and extraordinary estate bottled DuBrul Vineyard wines crafted by talented winemaker Kerry Shiels. For those interested in wines aged at least ten years, the winery offers a Library Club option.
Established as a gathering place to discover Washington wine and agrigulture, the Prosser venue houses a tasting room that focuses on a different Washington state growing region each month. If you want to learn more about Washington wine, the American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), the varieties, the producers, the sensory experience, this is the place to do it!
There is even a retail shop carrying a great variety of Washington wines from different producers. Shopping for wine here feels like a treasure hunt, and we discovered some gems not available at the wineries.
Special tasting events featuring blind tastings or Washington wines versus wines from other regions of the world are regularly offered. Be sure to check their web site and book those in advance.
On your way home, take a little detour to Union Gap for a bite at Los Hernandez Tamales. It’s a modest family operation serving – you guessed it – tamales. Don’t mistake that simplicity for boring food, though. The café has been honored with the James Beard America’s Classic award . Visit in the spring and you can get a package of their coveted asparagus tamales to take home and stock your freezer.
Hot Tip: Pack a Cooler
One of the beautiful things about the Yakima Valley is that sunshine makes an appearance an average of 300 days a year. While those of us from Seattle can appreciate that, heat and light can seriously damage wine left in the car. So, when plans include making multiple stops that require turning off the car’s air conditioning it’s wise to bring a cooler along and safely stash wine purchases inside. Frozen bottles of water can serve double duty, keeping the cooler chilled, then offering liquid refreshment as they melt. Or, just buy a bag of ice along the way. We usually do so at a gas station in Sunnyside. A cooler will also come in handy for any packages of tamales that are purchased at Los Hernandez.
There is a lot to explore in the Yakima Valley. Check out the Wine Yakima Valley web site for more ideas.
Note that as someone who works in the wine industry, my tasting fees were waived as is standard practice. However, this is not a paid endorsement. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!