We spent our Labor Day weekend as usual, driving through the Yakima Valley ostensibly to play music at the Tumbleweed Festival in the Tri-Cities, but also (mostly?) to visit wine country. The weather was gorgeous and we hit all our usual favorite wineries, plus a few new ones.
Our first stop (not counting our usual visit to Winegar’s for milkshakes) was Two Mountain Winery in Zillah. We like their wines, especially their Hidden Horse red blend, and we always have to stop and visit their dogs as well.
Every year (usually on the day we’re passing through) they do dinner and a movie at the winery. So far we’ve never made it but it sounds very fun.
On the advice of the pourer at Two Mountain, we stopped by Dineen, just up the hill. Bummer of a view, isn’t it? They also have an outdoor pizza oven behind the tasting room. We tried some different wines here but our favorite was the Viognier, which had a fine dry floral quality.
After that we headed straight on to Chinook. Kay and Clay make, I think, some of the best wine in eastern Washington and we always stock up here. We’ve also discovered their wonderful back yard, and we’ve begun a tradition of bringing a picnic lunch and eating it there along with a bottle of Chinook wine. In the dappled light under the trees, with grapevines visible through the hedges, this makes the most blissful lunch spot in the world.
Our picnic may not have looked elegant but we had a great time.
That afternoon we checked in at the music festival and listened for a while. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy live music than lying flat on green grass, looking up through tree branches.
Dinner that night and breakfast the next morning were our usual stops, Atomic Alehouse for pizza and Sage Point Grille for eggs and hashbrowns and corned beef. Sorry, no photos, but you can revisit them here if you like.
After our performance on Sunday we got lunch at a new place near the park in Richland, a bakery/bistro called Frost Me Sweet. We sat out on the sidewalk in the shade of a locust tree and had a really nice meal. Jon got the Woodland burger with a salad. The burger itself was a bit overcooked, but the flavors were very good, with goat cheese and mushrooms.
My mother got the PDX wrap. I have no idea why it’s named after Portland, but it was a nice mix of beans and corn and was offered either grilled or cold.
I ordered the spinach salad and was really pleased – lots of perfectly cooked bacon, blue cheese, dried cranberries, not-too-sweet walnuts and a decent honey mustard dressing.
Because someone had to get fries, my father took on the responsibility. They were pretty good, some crispier than others, with lots of garlic and parmesan. Not my favorite style of fry but not bad at all. His sandwich was pulled pork and presumably was totally fine, but I didn’t have any – I was busy stuffing my face with bacon.
After lunch we headed out to Benton City and did some more wine tasting on Red Mountain. We started at another personal favorite, Hightower.
I love this tasting room – it’s very simple, but well built and comfortable. And the wines are all fantastic. The new Murray Syrah was particularly nice, and we bought the only three bottles they had on hand of the new Cabernet Franc, Riley ∏ (Riley is Murray’s successor as Hightower Wine Dog). I wish I could afford more wine from these guys.
After Hightower we decided to finally visit Hedges, after years of not quite getting around to it. It was eye-opening.
This place is astonishing. A lot of wine tasting rooms try to be pseudo-Italian, and many of them are quite pretentious. This place is like an actual French country home dropped on top of Red Mountain, complete with formal gardens, clipped plane trees, balconies, and beautiful furniture. It doesn’t just look fancy, it is fancy.
The wines were very good. They had a dry rose that was very refined and crisp, and a steel-aged chardonnay with a lovely texture. It was a little hot to be able to appreciate their port (which they now have to call “fortified wine”). The only real problem was that the tasting selection was very small compared to the number of wines I’ve seen from them.
We headed back over the hills, passing through Jon’s and my old stomping grounds in Ellensburg, now somewhat the worse for wear in places.
The next day we picked up our pooch from her vacation home and brought her home to her own bed and all of her toys. It was good to be home.