Washington’s Yakima Valley sits on the drier, eastern side of the state’s Cascade Mountains. Here, among the dusty hills and desert canyons, sits Washington’s oldest and largest wine region, with undulating rows of grapes and friendly, approachable tasting rooms.
Yakima Valley is home to around 100 wineries, far too many for just one visit. The tasting fees are low and the winemakers themselves are often doing the pouring. You’ll find top-notch wines that rival those found in California’s oft-heralded Napa Valley, but without the traffic. Don’t be surprised if you have the tasting room all to yourself.
Your best bets for excellent tastings include Treveri Cellars, producers of sparkling wine so fine it’s been selected for State Department dinners. Trek over to Gilbert Cellars, which sits on 300 rolling acres of Hackett Ranch. It’s also home to the region’s first craft distillery, Glacier Basin Distillery, and a soon-to-open brewery. Time your visit with one of the many events, including live music — no cover.
Ten tasting rooms occupy the Vintner’s Village in Prosser; you can park your car and walk to each of them. Stop in Thurston Wolfe, with its rare varieties, and Milbrandt Vineyards, one of the region’s best.
You can taste and learn at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, which hosts tastings from Yakima Valley and other Washington State wineries.
If you opt not to drive, consider a wine tour with one of several local companies, including Wineries Express, with its join-in and charter tour options. If you’re flying Alaska Airlines, the tasting fee is waived at 38 wineries, and you can check a case of wine free when flying from the Tri-Cities or Yakima airports.
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