Last weekend, Kellie, Kristen, Katya, Christopher, Barbie, and I went out to the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington for a little wine tasting. After a brief stop at the XXX Root Beer Drive-In for lunch, we headed to Ellensburg for a fun filled evening (there were no hotel rooms in Yakima that evening). We had a good time playing hearts (which I never played before, but now I'm a fan) and drinking beer at the Tav, a good dinner at Pearls-on-Pearl, and more bar fun at the Starlight Lounge and Oak Rail Tavern. Nothing like partying with a bunch of college kids (from Central Washington University - the only thing in Ellensburg.) I really liked the Tav and Starlight Lounge; Pearls-on-Pearl was nice too.
After a slow morning at the luxurious Comfort Inn (I got a in a five mile run before almost anyone was up and got to watch Americas Cup TV coverage!) we headed over to Red Mountain, an AVA about an hour east of Yakima. We hit six wineries in a short period here. Of these, I really liked Fidelitas and Tapteil.
Fidelitas, in particular, was a group favorite with several of us joining their club (many of these places have a wine club where you "subscribe" to their quarterly or semi-annual mailings of a few bottles of wine). Their M100 reds and whites were very nice low-priced table wines, and their 2004 Syrah and eight Syrah were fantastic. Their new wine room was very nice too.
We had a pleasant lunch at Tapteil inside their cozy wine room (we brought a picnic lunch, but it was too windy to eat outside). Their 2001 Cab Merlot was our lunch wine and very tasty, especially once it opened up. We also found some good wines at Hightower Cellars and Kiona Vineyards Winery (esp. their Chenin Blanc ice wine - lush and tropical...). I didn't care for Sandhill Winery or Chandler Reach (although their 36 Red wasn't bad) as much.
Honestly, I think six wineries was too much for me. My taste buds were blown by the fifth place (Kiona), so I chose to sit out for a while; I probably didn't give Chandler Reach a fair shake because of this. After all that wine (thank goodness Barbi, who doesn't drink, was driving the mini-van), we had a quiet dinner at Gasperetti's in Yakima. Gasperetti's is supposed to be some kind of institution in Yakima (I'm sure it is), but I thought it was only OK. We saw a few kids out in prom-wear; ah, young love. Apparently, prom in Yakima includes Cheetos, since Barbi saw a bunch of girls in prom dresses buying bags of Cheetos at the gas station. We made a half-hearted attempt of going out in Yakima (including a few rounds of shuffleboard on the worst table ever at the Sports Center in Yakima) and called it a night.
After another night in a luxurious hotel (the Cedar Suites in Yakima), on Sunday morning we hit a few more wineries, all of which we loved. Our hands-down favorite was the new Agate Field Vineyard. Pretty much everything was gold there. I especially liked their 2002 and 2003 Red Blends (esp. 2002) and their Syrahs. Another favorite was Wineglass Cellars; Linda, the co-owner, was very charming and helpful. I bought a few of their older Cabernets and loved their Elerding and Rich Harvest. I'm looking forward to trying the ones I brought home. Masset was a nice surprise as well; I thought their Margaret Alice Late Harvest Viognier was especially good and slightly unusual. Sheridan was pouring their second label, Kamiakin, which was fine. Unfortunately, I had hoped to try their Sheridan branded wines. (Don't go to Sheridan on a Sunday, I guess.)
The cars loaded down with wine and a yummy Mexican lunch under in our bellies, we headed home. We had a great time and found a lot of tasty wines. There are apparently over five hundred wineries in Washington now, so I guess we have a lot more tasting to do...
Click here for Kellie's account of the weekend (I can't believe she got her post out before I did...)