Santa Cruz wet wine walk

rainy day

The last time we visited my brother-in-law, we had to drive to get to the local wineries. Up into the hills, usually, on windy roads designed to get the casual tourist completely lost. And many of the Central Coast wineries weren’t open to the public, anyway. This has all changed with the advent of the Swift Street Courtyard complex, now home to at least six different wine tasting rooms and a brewery. Part of the same complex that houses Kelly’s French Bakery (and a number of other shops), this is a wildly accessible arrangement for a person wanting to taste as much Santa Cruz wine as possible. Which we did.

And thanks to everything being so close together, it can all be done on foot even in a pouring rain. Which it was.

Bonny Doon

Bonny Doon

Our first stop was Bonny Doon. Their new space is very spiffy, with a long curving bar and tables set into gigantic barrels, with melted wine bottles for lamps. They had two tasting flights on offer, a regular and a reserve, so we bought one each and figured we’d share. The woman pouring for us took it upon herself to switch around the order of the wines so our two flights would overlap in the most enjoyable manner. We ended up with an exciting spread of bottles in front of us.

Bonny Doon

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beer in the wine country

sagebrush rainbow

I know it’s taken me all week to get this post up, but our Labor Day weekend wasn’t the kind you recover from quickly. As usual, my band (comprised of me, my husband and my parents) went on its annual pilgrimage to the Tumbleweed Music Festival by way of a lot of wineries. Not to mention two brewpubs and a truly fantastic diner.

winery dogs

We visited the dogs at Two Mountain, Chinook and Hightower – all just as cute as ever. I highly recommend all three wineries for their juice as well. We also visited Portteus, Bookwalter, Tefft, and Blackwood Canyon.

Amid all the winery visits, though, we needed food. And really, when you’re overloaded with high quality red wine, what you really need is a burger, or pizza. And a beer.

Whitstran Brewpub

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wine and pizza

Lake Chelan

As part of the Campbell Road 2009 Saint Patrick’s Week Tour (such as it was), we drove up to Lake Chelan last weekend. Chelan, which tends towards the hot and crowded in summer, is pretty calm this time of year – the hills are gray, the streets are empty, and the water level is so low that the jetties end up some distance from the actual lake. But there are still a few things to do in the area, and we did them: visit a winery, eat pizza, and hang out at the Vogue Liquid Lounge.

frozen lake

Chelan has one of the newest winemaking communities around – our B&B hostess remarked that there was only one winery when she moved there just a few years ago, now there are over a dozen. Continue reading

the winery dog tour

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Six wineries, one brewpub, four espresso milkshakes, one musical performance, and a lot of dogs: we’re back from our trip! This was our annual trip to the Tri-Cities, ostensibly to play at an outdoor music festival, but mostly an excuse to go wine tasting.

Winegar's

Our first (very important) stop was in Ellensburg. The rodeo parade was going on, but it didn’t stop us from getting our usual round of espresso milkshakes at Winegar’s Dairy drive-thru. Who needs lunch when you can get a milkshake like that?

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Two Mountain Winery

Our first stop, and one of our favorites, was Two Mountain Winery in Zillah. The wine was good (the Tribute was especially fabuliferous), and the dogs were adorable – especially Bentley the Basset hound (I love Basset hound ears, they’re so soft). The winery was having “Dinner and a Movie” that night, with hamburgers and fresh local corn. If it hadn’t been such a drive back from Richland that night, we would’ve been there!

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to Kennewick and back

view from Red Mountain

As some of you may know, I play in an Irish band with J and my parents. Because of that, Saint Patrick’s Day tends to be a bit fraught for us, trying to cram in several performances during the prime “season.” This year we played two concerts, one in Wenatchee and one in Kennewick. Lots of driving, but the weather was clear and, as we usually do when we head out to the Tri-Cities area, we made the most of the chance to visit some of the many, many wineries along the way.

Food-wise, we started out well. The morning after our gig in Wenatchee we droveĀ over Blewett Pass to Ellensburg, home of one of our favorite casual restaurants of all time, the Valley Cafe. The Valley’s been around for ages – my parents took me there when I was a kid – and J and I had the good fortune to live four blocks away from it for two years. Sigh…

the valley cafe

Anyway, the Valley continues to be a great place. They specialize in sort of elegant but gooey Italian bistro food, particularly pastas, and they usually have some interesting meat or seafood specials going, and their wine list features loads of the local wineries. I find it a deeply comforting place to eat, but that’s partly because I remember what good care the waitstaff took of me when I would wander over there for lunch on my work break.

squash, cashew and artichoke lasagna at the Valley Cafe Continue reading