[This was written as email to an out-of-towner who was going to be in Seattle for a few days in June 1997, and wanted to do some serious winetasting. I listed a several day schedule, it's broken up into 4 parts here.]
After visiting the Woodinville wineries as described yesterday, you can then drive out to the Yakima Valley the following day. This way you're doing your driving during the time that no wineries are open anyways, thus maximizing your tasting time.
Head east on I-90, over Snoqualmie Pass (this can be bad during the Winter, but it'll be fine now), and turn off to I-82 southbound at exit 109(?), about 1 & 3/4 hours out from Seattle. Stay on I-82 through the town of Yakima about another 3/4 hour. The wineries begin here, and continue in clumps for the next 100 miles...
The city of Yakima has no wineries. The first winery is Staton Hills (as they're first this makes for a nice potty stop and lunch picnic place). Reasonable wines, nice facility, good availability in Seattle area.
Onwards to Zillah. Bonair Winery is first, and they're great! Their wines are excellent, and Shirley and Gale (the owners) are quite memorable people. This is a Mom&Pop outfit, you'll probably get to chat with the winemaker.
2 minutes up the street from Bonair is Wineglass Cellars. Excellent wines, neat people; Mom&Pop outfit, don't miss them.
1 minute from Wineglass is Hyatt Vineyards. Somewhat spotty quality over the last few years, as they've changed winemakers several times. Currently on the upswing.
Under 10 minutes from Hyatt is Covey Run Vineyards. Some unusual varietals here which may be enough reason alone to try them. Low prices make this a good value winery.
10 minutes from Covey Run is Portteus Vineyards. It will undoubtedly be the winemaker behind the counter, and his wines are excellent! Don't miss this one.
From Portteus, don't bother going back to I-82 (you'll miss Zillah Oakes which is now just a second label for Covey Run). Go towards Horizon's Edge. Tom's wines are expensive, and of a style that you must appreciate -- it may not be for you.
Next you're near Eaton Hill. As I recall they tend to mostly very drinkable-now white wines; the historic cannery building they're in is a delight. They also have great free food on weekends, which can be a nice break for the palate. You may be able to stay at the Rinehold Homestead B&B adjacent to the winery.
Next stop Tefft Cellars (Pam runs a very inexpensive B&B here too -- the Outlook Inn). Mom&Pop outfit, Joel makes some of the most unique and wonderful wines in the state, for instance a Huckleberry Port. He tends to like Italian varietals and makes big reds. Do not miss this one.
From Tefft you may wish to go into the town of Sunnyside, where you can visit Washington Hills -- they're known here for their high availability jug wines, and for their more expensive Apex and good value Bridgman labels. Next en-route is Tucker Cellars. The wines are very inexpensive, and is attached to a fruit and vegetable stand, so you may wish to pick up fresh vegies here if you'll be foraging for yourself for dinner.
Chateau Ste. Michelle has a small facility in Grandview that's interesting for it's historic significance, but if you tried the wines at Stimpson Lane in Woodinville yesterday, you can skip this one. [Note! CSM has closed this facility to the public as of late 1998 -- MikeL]
Excellent, expensive, only two-sittings-per-night dinners can be had by reservation in Yakima at The Birchfield, which is about 45 minutes back from where you're at now. If this is a go-for-the-gusto trip, you might want to plan on this, otherwise, Sunnyside and Prosser (another 20 minutes further than you are now) have a few much more humble restaurants, but beware that they're not open very late.
The only accomadations I've tried are the Toppenish Inn in the town of Toppenish. It's another middle-of-the-road inexpensive hotel, fairly near wine country. It's about a 1/2 hour drive back to Yakima, so this is preferable, but not essential. My wife and I often just pitch a tent next to the car at Hood Park Campground (Army Corps of Engineers) during the warm months.
Tommorrow we'll continue eastward through Prosser and Benton City.
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