Yakima Valley Wine Country: Vintner’s Village

img_7028_lucidWhen I told people at work we were going to Yakima for a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary, some of them seemed surprised. Why in the world would we drive *all the way* over to Yakima? What was there to do in Yakima?

I was flummoxed. I had been wanting to go to Yakima for quite a while. I heard it was warm, that it had a totally different and desert-like landscape compared to the western side of the mountains, and that it was home to a world-renowned wine country. It seemed like an awesome spot for a long weekend celebration.

Turns out I was right! We spent an incredible weekend touring several different wine regions throughout the valley, explored some interesting old towns, and relaxed in the relatively warm weather drinking good wine and eating good food.

We drove over after work on Thursday so we could have all of Friday and Saturday to explore before coming home Sunday morning. I’m sold on always allowing as much time for a recovery day as possible after any length of vacation so taking one day off work to make sure we were ready to head back to work on Monday made sense for us.

I found us a place to stay just outside of Yakima—a B&B called Birchfield Manor Country Inn—and splurged to get us a nice private room with a view of the nearby vineyard and hops farms. The food was supposed to be amazing so I also booked us dinner at the B&B for the last night of the trip.

We were really happy with our room and the B&B as a whole– the owners were incredibly accommodating, the location was perfect for accessing the various wine regions, we were a short walk from Bale Breaker Brewing Co., we had a beautiful view out our second-story porch, and our dinner ended up being phenomenal. I highly recommend it!

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We set out Friday morning for Prosser, which was about a 45-minute drive southeast, to check out the wineries at Vintners Village. This 32-acre area is home to dozens of winery tasting rooms, which is nice because you can walk from place to place and try all kinds of wine.

I wasn’t sure if we would like it as much as touring the actual wineries, but I ended up impressed. The tasting rooms are distinct and really carry through the character of the different wineries. It was really nice parking and walking around, stopping for tastings and lunch and then eventually winding down before driving back to our B&B.

We started at Millbrandt Vineyards where I ordered a red flight and Brian tasted a Chardonnay. They had a pretty outside seating area and there weren’t many people yet so we had a peaceful tasting to ourselves, basking in the late morning sun. I really enjoyed (and ended up buying a bottle of) the Petite Verdot, and Brian really liked the Chardonnay.

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We took the wine back to the car so we would have a little break in between tastings and then headed to a second tasting at Gamache Vintners.

There were quite a few people when we first arrived, but it got pretty quiet as we worked through our shared tasting. I liked their Cab but not enough to buy any.

The girl helping us seemed to lose interest half-way through our tasting so Brian had to start walking up to the counter and asking about what we were trying. It was probably my least favorite of all the tastings we did throughout the day.

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Our next two tastings were much better at Thurston Wolfe and nearby McKinley Springs, in part because we got to interact with a number of adorable dogs!

Thurston Wolfe had a resident dog and there were several couples with dogs at McKinley Springs. We were at Thurston Wolfe for quite a while talking to the women serving our tasting and met some nice people who were also tasting and staying in the area. It was a very low-key tasting room and we felt right at home. We ended up buying nearly a case of wine, including several different wines we enjoyed like Dr. Wolfe’s Family Red, which was a nice blend.

McKinley Springs had more of a Tuscan Villa feel and also had several people tasting. We bought some of the Bombing Range red and white blends, which we tasted at the end because another couple asked them to open some bottles, even though they weren’t tasting those that day. Good thing they did– we all ended up buying some!

Four tastings was more than enough for me. Brian was tasting my flights rather than ordering his own since he was driving, and we were both ready for a break. We stopped for a late lunch at Wine O’Clock, a little eatery in Vintners Village run by one of the wineries. The food was delicious, in particular the goat cheese and honey appetizer we had along with our meal.

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We were parked nearby so after lunch we headed into Prosser for a couple final stops. The first was for Brian– a little pub called Whitstran Brewery. It was a small place and although there were quite a few people inside, it had a bit of an odd atmosphere.

We sat at the bar and ordered a small sampler, but that was the only time we interacted with the bar tender. They changed shifts, the new girl turned on the TV, and everyone sat watching the Kardashians while sipping on their drinks.

It was really odd after the great conversations we had at the wineries so we didn’t stay long. The baked apple cider was good, but overall we weren’t terribly impressed with the beer or the brewery.

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We headed back to Yakima and made one final stop as we turned toward our B&B at Treveri Cellars. I had it on my list because they were supposed to have live music that evening, and a couple of the tasting rooms we visited also recommended it.

The winery is on a hill with incredible views of the hills and valleys, and they are distinct in that they create sparkling wines. It was busy with people sitting indoors and out on the patio overlooking the surrounding landscape. It would have been lovely to sit outside and watch the sunset, but the band was set up inside so we grabbed a table and a couple of glasses and just enjoyed the bubbles and music.

The tasting room had an amazing atmosphere, the sparkling wines were delicious, and as we were leaving we got to witness an incredible sunset. It was the perfect ending to our first day of wine tasting in Yakima Valley!

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4 thoughts on “Yakima Valley Wine Country: Vintner’s Village

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