So this weekend, wife Kate, friends Wolf and Shelly, and Snaggles the wonder dog packed into Wolf's Jetta and headed over the mountains into the Yakima valley. The Yakima is a shallow, dry basin just on the other side of the pass, best known for its wineries, which is why we went there.
The winery valley is about fifty miles long with dry weather and volcanic soil, good for grapes. We hit the southeastern end first, the closer northwestern second. When it was flurrying on Queen Anne hill, we had about an inch of snow as we were walking among the petroglyphs underneath basaltic cliffs.
In general, the wines were excellent across the board. Kate and I prefer whites, Wolf likes reds, and Shelly prefers cherries (she was our designated driver). I really liked talking to vintners, so I was more impressed by the small operations, like Tucker Cellars, Pontin Del Roza, and in particular Bonair as opposed to the larger operations like Silver Lake and Hogue. The valley is a flux of small family wineries and larger corporate takeovers (Hogue was picked up by "the Canadians"). The season's weather had been too good, and there was an overstock on the grapes. The northern vinyards got theirs in, while those at the southern end had left a lot of grapes on the vine at the end of the season. My personal preferences were the Sunset Rosa from Bonair and also a spiced mead that they did.
We also ate - Kate wanted to try a northern italian place for lunch (we later did it for dinner), but it was closed and we ended up at at a mexican resturant across the street ("The Seven Seas"). The Yak valley has a strong hispanic influx from farm workers, and this place was a small resturant - beer signs on the walls and the big screen playing a Jerry Springer clone on Spanish Language TV. The food, on the other hand, was wonderful - I ordered at random and got a shrimp wrapped in bacon dish that was delightful, and the garlic soup was excellent.
(We did get to the italian place - Gasparetti's, that evening. I really liked it as well. though Shell had problems with the steak (She likes it well done, and had to send it back). The young man waiting the table, who turned out to be the manager, recommended a number of wineries for Sunday, which is how we ended up at Bonair).
Sunday we came back in daylight because of all the news about the snow hitting Seattle. A light dusting, melted before we even got back. Still, it was fun, and I would head back in warmer weather.