Yakima Valley Vacation Weekend

Last weekend, my Sweetie and I took a vacation trip over to Eastern Washington to discover the Yakima Valley region. It happened to be the Spring Barrel tasting weekend, so that worked out for getting some early tastes of upcoming wines. Here are a few notes regarding what all we did.

First, I was impressed out how quick the trip to Yakima was. Just over two hours and we were in a totally different climate, with open, rolling hills and sage brush.

We stayed the first night at Whistlin’ Jack’s Lodge. It is right on the Naches River and very down home. I could see this as an idea base for lots of hiking and other trips. Everyone there was super-nice to us (especially when we shared we were having an anniversary weekend celebration) and Don Forgey in the lounge was a delight, especially when he sang us a song in celebration of our three years.

The next day was big. We enjoyed breakfast at Whistlin’ Jack’s and talked to the wine steward about which locations to visit in Rattlesnake Hills and Zillah that day. She holds vintner appreciation dinners and we ended up incorporating her recommendations into the following list:

  1. Sagelands Vineyard (71 Gangl Road, Wapato, WA 98951)
  2. Masset Winery (620 East Parker Hgts. Rd., Wapato,  WA 98951)
  3. Bonaire Winery (500 S. Bonaire Rd., Zillah, WA)
  4. Two Mountain (2151 Cheyne Road, Zillah, WA 98953)
  5. Agate Field Vineyard (3321 Roza Drive, Zillah, WA 98953)
  6. Portteus Vineyards and Winery (5201 Highland Drive, Zillah, WA 98953)

(Overview map created as a shared Windows Live Maps collection.)

Here’s a very high-level panorama from Sagelands:

Agate Field was my favorite wine selection out of them all.

That night we stayed in downtown Yakima. That’s an interesting city to me just because it would seem to be in transition towards revitalization. Our downtown hotel was attached to what used to be the area’s mall. We walked around and saw pretty much closed store after closed store. The big box retailers had moved in near the highway and downtown, well, it’s not a ghost town, but it certainly seems empty.


  1. Columbia Crest Winery (Columbia Crest Dr, Plymouth, WA 99346)
  2. Desert Wind Vineyard (2258 Wine Country Road, Prosser, WA 99350)

Saturday our big trip / pilgrimage was to Columbia Crest Winery given that our house-wine is usually a Columbia Crest vintage of some sort. Columbia Crest is a sister winery to Chateau Saint Michelle. While we’ve experienced many a friendly tasting room, nothing compared to the absolute overly generous and friendly service that Columbia Crest brought out for us. And it wasn’t too crowded so you didn’t have to deal with the pointy-elbow wine crowd.

We managed to get back just in time to enjoy the tasting at Desert Wind Vineyard in Prosser. We had enjoyed their Ruah recently. They have a new building right off of 82 and a very nice deck area to relax and enjoy. After Desert Wind we wound our way through the country side to find our 3rd place to stay, the Cozy Rose Inn B&B (where I have to say I enjoyed the most awesome sauce ever to accompany a filet mignon).

Sunday was my dry-day given that we were heading back to Redmond. We visited:

  1. Kestrel Wines (2890 Lee Road, Prosser, WA 99350)
  2. Hogue Cellars (2800 Lee Road, Prosser WA, 99350)
  3. Hinzerling Winery (1520 Sheridan Avenue-Prosser, WA 99350)
  4. Silver Lake (1500 Vintage Road, Zillah, WA 98953)

(Another overview map collection.)

Silver Lake has a wonderful tasting room / picnic area. And we ran into someone I knew from my Office days: Brian Jones! It was a great surprise. Brian is a wonderful guy with a very hard and interesting job helping to spearhead XML document standardization.

And we learned something from the gentleman running the entry-way barrel taste at Silver Lake. While driving around, we say these little rusted cannon-looking devices scattered about the fruit orchards. My Sweetie figured that they must be heaters for the trees. Yes. They are known as smudge pots: a little pot belly pot filled with diesel and a chimney furnace attached to the pot. The diesel is lit. The gentleman said it looks like fields of jack-o-lanterns… jack-o-lanterns that turn the air black. It was just a few weeks before our visit, so future travel heed this: don’t visit before the Spring barrel tasting.

Panorama from the Silver Lake outside dining area:

After Silver Lake we went into downtown Toppenish because of their legendary Western-theme murals. We parked downtown and just sort-of wandered about, coming across mural-after-mural showing local history. I liked the humor in the Irish Dick mural. If you like pictures of Western history, go to the Come See Toppenish’s 70 Murals page, click on the first one, and just keep going “Next.”

(Oh, and my Sweetie tracked down a nice taquirra near the Irish Dick mural, on Washington, between Beech and Alder.)

Then we headed home. The trip home always seems longer than the trip to get there. I’m very much looking forward to visiting the Yakima area again – and beyond.

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One Response to “Yakima Valley Vacation Weekend”

  1. Anonymous on April 3rd, 2009

    Come Back and See downtown Yakima NOW! Wine Tasting, Resturants ! Live music in the evenings! People every where! What a difference a few years can make! Oh Yes still grea wines!!1

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