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Wine Country

Great grapes welcome visitors to a vintner’s paradise

For those who love all things grape, Washington Wine Country is the perfect destination for a taste of some of the world’s best wines. And just what is the perfect accompaniment to your wine tasting travels? As explorers Lewis and Clark discovered, the scenery and surrounding towns whet any appetite for adventure.

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Serious Business

A multi-billion dollar industry was created from a combination of perfect soil and climate—along with the ingenuity of Washington State’s early winemakers, some of whom perfected their craft in the secrecy of their homes until Prohibition ended in 1933. Today, Washington boasts some 800-plus wineries, taking full advantage of the volcanic-ash soil and 300 or more days of sunshine, making these vineyards legitimate rivals to those in California, France and elsewhere.

Lewis and Clark Were Here and Here and…

Three distinctive areas—Tri-Cities, Yakima Valley and Walla Walla Valley—make up the vineyard region of Washington State, known as Washington Wine Country. Explore some of these areas while you make your way through vineyard tours and wine tastings.

With more than 130 wineries, many of them family-owned and featuring scores of varietals, Walla Walla Valley is considered one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country. Downtown Walla Walla oozes with small town charm and an eclectic mix of history, art, culture, vintage shops, restaurants and other attractions. Special events, such as Feast Walla Walla, outdoor concerts and the like, make it easy to see why the town is so popular.

Visit Kirkman House, a museum transformed from a former mansion built in 1880 by one of Walla Walla’s most successful businessmen. Fort Walla Walla Museum offers walking tours of a pioneer settlement of historic buildings and four exhibit halls with thousands of artifacts. Visitors there can find information on the travels of explorers Lewis and Clark, who passed through what is now present day Walla Walla County on their way to the Pacific Ocean beginning in 1805. Just outside of town is the Whitman Mission National Historic Site providing educational insight into the Native American tribes of the region and the frontier settlers who first came to the region.

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Cold Brews

In addition to producing wines, Yakima Valley grows more hops than any other place in the country. No surprise, then, that it is home to scores of breweries. A visit to downtown Yakima and surrounding area yields plenty of options to try craft beers, shop and visit cultural attractions in a town created by the railroad in the 1800s. Hop aboard a downtown trolley for a tour and a history lesson by the conductor. Or, try the historic Yakima Valley Trolley, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hitting the Links

Want to golf in an apple orchard? Apple Orchard Resort in western Yakima is a golf course created on the grounds of apple orchards more than a century old and features an apple island green known to golfers worldwide. It is but one example of the outdoor recreation in an area surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers and meadows. Visitors can find it all along the Yakima Greenway, 18 miles of paved pathway following the Yakima River through some 3,600 acres of greenery featuring a pair of fishing lakes, three parks and ramp access to the river.

Leave time for stops in towns like Granger, whose landscape is dotted with statues of dinosaurs and whose theme, “Where Dinosaurs Roam,” is the building block of an annual family event known as “Dino-In-A-Day.” For Old West flavor, visit Toppenish and marvel at “The City of Murals.”

More than 70 life-size paintings depicting rodeos, railroad life, farming and other historical landscapes created by local artists are there to enjoy on your own or by tour in a horse-drawn wagon. Toppenish is also the address for Legends Casino.

In the Heart of Wine Country

Located in the Yakima valley, Prosser is considered the place where Washington winemaking got its start. Here, you’ll find well-established wineries and restaurants that serve up outstanding local vintages.

Several wine events take place in this town, ranging from Yoga in the Wine Country and Desert Wind Vineyard Trail Ride. Aspiring artists should attend the annual Wine and Watercolors event, in which participants’ creativity is lubricated with thelp of fine vintages. (It doesn’t hurt to have outstanding landscapes on hand to serve as inspiration).

In Richland, wine lovers are invited to watch glassmakers in action at the Barnard Griffin winery’s db Studio. Visitors can savor wines and peruse kilformed creations made by local artisans. Class are offered for guests.

For More Information

Washington Wine Country

800-221-0751

www.winecountrywashington.com

 

Washington State Tourism

800-544-1800

www.experiencewa.com