Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yakima Valley, Washington (Wineries)

The view from Windy Point Vineyards in Yakima Valley.

We visited the town of Yakima and its surrounding wineries and vineyards over Fourth of July weekend in July of 2013.

Yakima Valley is a two to three hour drive from Seattle and is located in south central Washington State. It's the largest and oldest wine growing region in the state and is located along the same latitude as some the famous wine regions in France. Yakima Valley was the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) to be recognized in Washington state back in 1983. There are several different AVAs located within Yakima Valley including Naches Heights, Yakima Valley, Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain, Red Mountain, and Horse Heaven Hills. Those not familiar with the wine industry of Yakima Valley might be surprised to learn that it's home to over 100 wineries!

The websites of the Wine Yakima Valley Association and the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau  offer visitors great advice, helpful brochures, and maps on the many wineries spread across the Yakima Valley. If you are planning on spending a few days touring wineries in Yakima Valley, I highly recommend that you coordinate your winery visits by area. For example, you could combine one day of touring wineries in Naches Heights, downtown Yakima, and Wapato, one day for the wineries in Zillah, and another for Prosser. The distances between these areas can be quite long so unless you plan on spending several hours in the car it's smart to group your visits by area.

Over the course of our long weekend we visited the following wineries, which will be discussed in detail further below:


Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery:
Located in the Naches Heights AVA, this lovely tasting room is placed within a quaint early 1900's farmhouse. The home features a beautiful wrap-around covered porch that provides amazing views of the surrounding valley. The tasting room was very quiet on the day we visited so we were able to enjoy the gorgeous setting nearly all to ourselves. Like many wineries, they had a pre-set tasting menu, however, unlike most other wineries they allowed you to mix and match this list with any of their other wines. Being that I am a fan of whites and Shyawn is a fan of reds, this worked out quite well for us. We were both very impressed with all of their wines which made for a difficult decision when deciding which ones to purchase. We ended up going with their 2012 Pinot Grigio and their 2012 Vintage Estate White Dessert Wine. This is definitely a winery that I would make a point to revisit on a future trip to the Yakima Valley.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The view from The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
View from The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
View from the porch at The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
View from The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
View from The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
View from The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The following few photos of Wilridge Winery were taken using my iPhone:
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.
The Tasting Room at Wilridge Winery.


Naches Heights Vineyard:
Also located in the Naches Heights AVA, just a few minutes drive from Wilridge Winery, this winery is housed inside a beautiful, modern, and spacious tasting room. The vineyard is known for being "green," which is evident on the exterior of the building as it is adorned with solar panels. My favorite part of the building was the misters that are used to cool down guests while they enjoy their wine out on the patio on a hot summer day. The grounds of the vineyard are gorgeous and feature four different waterfalls as well as a pond, several seating areas, and a covered gazebo. At certain times during the month visitors might be treated to live music and occasionally food for purchase. The wines were good and we purchased a bottle of the well-known Vuja De Rose. However, the one negative I do have to mention about Naches Heights is that it was one of only two wineries in the Yakima Valley that we visited that did not refund the tasting fee with a purchase of wine. Aside from that though, this was a wonderful winery and one of my favorites of the weekend.
Naches Heights Vineyard
Naches Heights Vineyard
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Enjoying our time at Naches Heights Vineyard while on the patio with the misters.
Enjoying our time at Naches Heights Vineyard while on the patio with the misters.
Enjoying our time at Naches Heights Vineyard while on the patio with the misters.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room.
Naches Heights Vineyard.
Naches Heights Vineyard.



Kana Winery:
Located in downtown Yakima, this tasting room is a very popular place for both visitors and locals. We visited on a Friday evening during one of their live music performances, which typically occur every Friday from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. If you happen to be in town during the first Friday of the month the music lasts a bit longer until 10:00 PM. During the live music performances, tastings are not available so instead we each got a glass of wine, which were reasonably priced. If you are staying in or near downtown Yakima you should definitely add this winery to your list since it's easily accessible and has longer operating hours than do most wineries out in the country.


Treveri Cellars:
Located about 10-15 minutes east of Yakima in the town of Wapato, this beautiful family-owned winery specializes in sparkling wines. Although it has only been opened for a few years, the winery has already received national acclaim after its wine was served at receptions for both the White House and the James Beard Foundation. The tasting at Treveri included some of the most generous pours our entire weekend, which was a nice treat since sparkling wine is one of my favorites. Our pourer was extremely knowledgeable, professional, and also made us feel very welcome.  I must also mention the views from the deck of the tasting room, which are phenomenal and absolutely gorgeous. They do offer a food service here, so this would be a great place for visitors to spend several hours enjoying their many delicious sparkling wines while nibbling on food and enjoying the views.
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
The tasting room at Treveri Cellars.
The view from Treveri Cellars.
The view from Treveri Cellars.
Wine tasting at Treveri Cellars.
The view from Treveri Cellars reflected on the windows of the tasting room.
The view from Treveri Cellars.
Treveri Cellars
Treveri Cellars
The view from Treveri Cellars.
Shyawn enjoying the gorgeous views from Treveri Cellars.


Windy Point Vineyards:
Also located in the town of Wapato, this winery is situated amongst both vineyards and fruit orchards in one of the most gorgeous settings we saw during our time in the Yakima Valley. Visitors can enjoy this amazing view from the cozy tasting room or outside while exploring the beautifully manicured gardens. There was a $5 tasting fee that unfortunately was not refundable with a bottle purchase. However, the tasting included a large number of wines so we ended up splitting the tasting which was plenty. There were several types of wines we enjoyed, especially the Gewurztraminer and Riesling, but ultimately we ended up purchasing a bottle of their 2010 Riesling.
Windy Point Vineyards
Windy Point Vineyards
The tasting room at Windy Point Vineyards.
The tasting room at Windy Point Vineyards.
The tasting room at Windy Point Vineyards.
View from the tasting room at Windy Point Vineyards.
Windy Point Vineyards
Windy Point Vineyards
View from Windy Point Vineyards.
Windy Point Vineyards
Windy Point Vineyards
Windy Point Vineyards
Windy Point Vineyards
View from Windy Point Vineyards.


Dineen Vineyards:
Located about 30 minutes southeast of Yakima in the small town of Zillah, the grounds and views from this beautiful winery were one of the favorites of our trip. I thoroughly loved the architecture of the buildings, which just screamed Pacific Northwest to me! If it's a gorgeous and sunny day, I highly recommend that you plan on allocating at least an hour or two for your time at Dineen. There is nothing quite better than sipping their delicious wine from one of the outdoor tables on the patio, which overlooks an incredible view of the surrounding countryside. Dineen Vineyards is primarily focused on selling their grapes to other winemakers but do produce a limited number of their own wines. We were both quite impressed with all of their wines and ended up coming home with a bottle of their 2012 Rose.
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
The tasting room at Dineen Vineyards.
View from Dineen Vineyards.
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards
Grapes growing on the vine at Dineen Vineyards.
Dineen Vineyards
Dineen Vineyards


Two Mountain Winery:
Also located in Zillah (just a few minutes drive from Dineen) this family-owned and operated winery is a fun place to visit, especially if you are a dog lover. There are several calm and friendly resident winery dogs on site and Two Mountain encourages other dog owners to bring their own doggies for a visit. Our pourer was an incredibly friendly and engaging young woman who had moved all the way to Yakima from Los Angeles. We talked with her for awhile not only about the wines, but also about the revitalization of Yakima and the amazing changes that have occurred in Yakima Valley over the course of just a few years. She gave us several great tips for restaurant and sightseeing recommendations in Yakima which we later utilized. At the end of our visit we purchased a bottle of their 2012 Riesling.
Two Mountain Winery
Two Mountain Winery
Two Mountain Winery
The tasting room at Two Mountain Winery.
The tasting room at Two Mountain Winery.
The tasting room at Two Mountain Winery.
Shyawn petting one of the friendly dogs at Two Mountain Winery.
Winery dog at Two Mountain Winery.
Two Mountain Winery
Two Mountain Winery


Portteus Vineyards:
Located in the town of Zillah, this unpretentious family-owned winery specializes in red wines. Portteus is one of the oldest vineyards in the entire state of Washington with their first grapes having been planted back in 1982. Don't come here expecting a fancy tasting room like you would at most other places: their tasting room is a simple no-frills space that doubles as some of their storage area. The gentleman who poured our wines was extremely approachable and friendly and also very knowledgeable about his wines and the wine industry. Shyawn ended up selecting a bottle of their 2011 Sangiovese, which, admittedly, this typically non-red wine drinker also enjoyed. It should be noted that Portteus is located in a gorgeous area of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA so if you've got some extra time on your hands I would recommend walking around some of the beautiful nearby vineyards.
Portteus Winery
Vineyards at Portteus Winery.
The tasting room at Portteus Winery.
The tasting room at Portteus Winery.
The tasting room at Portteus Winery.
Cute wine board game for sale at Portteus Winery.
Vineyards at Portteus Winery.
Vineyards at Portteus Winery.
Vineyards at Portteus Winery.
Vineyards at Portteus Winery.
Vineyards at Portteus Winery.


J Bell Cellars:
The last winery we visited during our stop in Zillah, J Bell is an up and coming winery that was recommended to us by the pourer at Two Mountain Winery. The winery is unique in that it not only produces wine, but grows a great deal of lavender, which, to my delight, was displayed liberally inside their tasting room. We tried several of their reds and a rose, which we ended up purchasing. I would love to go back to this winery on a future trip to Yakima to see how J Bell evolves and improves their wine with time.
Shyawn enjoying his wine at J Bell Cellars. 
J Bell Cellars
The tasting room at J Bell Cellars.
The tasting room at J Bell Cellars.
Lavender at J Bell Cellars.
Lavender at J Bell Cellars.
Pears growing at J Bell Cellars.


Alexander Nicole Cellars:
Located about an hour east of Yakima in the town of Prosser, this winery had some of my most favorite wines of the entire trip. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical when we arrived at the facility as it is located within a strip mall-like setting, however, it had very high ratings on Yelp so we trudged on. What this winery lacks in (no amazing view or outdoor scenery) it more than makes up for it with its amazing tasting room. The interior space was much larger than it appeared from the exterior and was beautifully designed with lots of deep red hues and warm yellow tones accented by black. As we sipped on our wine, one of the pourers informed us that we should go and check out their secret room hidden behind one of the bookcases. A hidden room you say? Naturally I was very intrigued so we checked it out. Usually this secret room is reserved for wine club members to complete private tastings in so I felt quite lucky that we were able to take a peek. Sure enough, about two minutes after we walked out of the secret room some wine club members arrived and were ushered into the secret room and the bookcase shut behind them! Since we enjoyed nearly every wine we tasted, we had a tough time deciding on which to purchase but ended up walking out with their 2012 Viognier. Lucky for us Alexandria Nicole has another tasting room located in Woodinville, which is just 15 minutes from our house.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
The secret room at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
The secret room at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
The secret room at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Looking into the secret room at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser.


Pontin Del Roza:
A beautiful family owned and operated estate winery in Prosser, Pontin Del Roza is a wonderful spot to stop in for some wine tasting. The family has owned the property for over 50 years and originally operated it as a turkey farm and in the 1960s began growing grapes to sell to Welch's. The tasting room and adjoining outdoor space was one of my favorites of the trip. The building is absolutely gorgeous with lots of modern touches and the patio has plenty of comfortable seating as well as a bocce ball court for those that might be interested in playing. We would have loved to played but it was nearly 100 degrees on the day we visited! We split a tasting, which was refundable with any bottle purchase. Pontin Del Roza has a ton of different types of wines in their portfolio and we selected to purchase their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery.
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Pontin Del Roza Winery


Chinook Wines:
Recommended to us by one of Shyawn's acquaintances, this lovely winery was located in the town of Prosser. The tasting room is located within a small but quaint 1930's farmhouse. The winery was one of the earliest in the state, having been established in 1983. The owners (husband and wife team Clay and Kay) were both in the tasting room during our visit and we struck up quite the conversation with Clay about his business and the changes that the blossoming wine industry has brought to the Yakima Valley. Outside of the tasting room there is plenty of space to spread out with numerous trees providing shade making it a great spot for a picnic. Chinook Wines produces both white and red wines and we took home a bottle of their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.
Tasting room at Chinook Wines.
Tasting room at Chinook Wines.
Tasting room at Chinook Wines.
Tasting room at Chinook Wines.


Airfield Estates Winery:
Vintner's Village is a 10 acre sight located in the town of Prosser that is home to ten different wineries including Airfield Estates Winery. It is housed in a building that resembles a WWII airport hanger. Because it's located within Vintner's Village and directly next to the freeway, Airfield Estates is one of the most popular wineries to visit in Prosser and was likely the busiest winery of our entire trip. As a result, the tasting room was a bit hectic so we took our tasting outside while enjoying the waterfall. As with Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Airfield Estates Winery also has a tasting room in Woodinville that I am certain we will visit in the future. We left with a bottle of their 2012 Pinot Gris.
Airfield Estates Winery
View from Airfield Estates Winery.
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery


Apex Cellars:
Also located within Vintners Village in Prosser, Apex Cellars serves wine from not only their own label but also from Washington Hills, Alder Ridge, and Bridgman Cellars. Their tasting menu was quite long so we opted to share. The interior of their tasting room and exterior of the building were designed using a rustic Italian flair which was a fun change from the other wineries we had visited on the trip. We ended up walking out the door with a bottle of Washington Hills Late Harvest Riesling.
Apex Cellars
Apex Cellars
Apex Cellars
Apex Cellars 

5 comments:

  1. beautiful pictures! makes me excited to go home and check out the local wineries :)
    hannahonthemap.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a wine enthusiast, my travels have taken me to a wide variety of vineyards and wine areas of France and Italy, and of course to the wonderful gardens of the wineries and surrounding places. Such spectacular fountains, planters and statuary! Citrus and olive trees in beautiful planters, stone statuary in the midst of bubbling fountains, elaborate terra cotta creations…. Imagine my pleasure, then, when I walked into Authentic Provence in West Palm Beach, Florida. In a beautiful environment of running water and good smells, the owners have sourced one of the finest collections of European garden antiques that I have seen in the USA: statues, fountains, planters (note especially the classic Caisse de Versailles, and Anduze pottery), terra cotta shields, stone animals, copper pots, garden spouts, etc. They also have beautiful stone fireplaces, re-purposed tiles, and many other specialty items. They are available online at http://authenticprovence.com, and can arrange shipping anywhere in the US. Well worth a visit!

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  3. Dear Wanderlust Traveler,
    You blog is amazing with all the beautiful photos. May I ask what kind of camera did you use?
    Best regards
    Thuy Tien

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know it's a lot of work to write all that and post all those photos. Thank you. Very informative. But one sugesstion..... ease up on the Photoshop saturation increase, it's borderline ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete

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