So, Jon and I headed over to the Yakima Valley for a little getaway on the long weekend. I hadn’t been to Yakima since I showed horses there in the 90’s, and even then, my experience was mostly limited to the Fairgrounds, and maybe a random McDonald’s. So, we got up early (we left the house at 6:30 am!), and headed over to get our “wine-taste” on.
Beautiful Gorge in the Yakima Valley
We had plenty of time, and Jon wanted to start out with McKinley Springs Winery. McKinley Springs is the furthest one away, so we thought we would start there and then start making out way back to civilization. The guidebook said that McKinley Springs opened at 10 am. So, we took a tour…. out to the middle of nowhere – 30 minutes out of our way… on back roads… with nobody else on them… only to get there… and find out that McKinley Springs was not open…. Frustrating! It looked very nice from the outside, but fat lot of good that did us. I think it will be a long time before we head back out to McKinley Springs.
So, next up, we had to get back to civilization. Thank god for GPS. She always knows the best route. However, in this case, since we were so far out in the middle of nowhere, the best route included six long miles on a gravel road, over a mountain, with hairpin switchbacks and no lane markings. I was a bit nervous, let’s just say. Jon kept telling me to stay in the middle of the road, but when you can’t see if there is another car coming, I was concerned about that. Of course, we didn’t pass another car the whole time we were on the road. So, after the GPS got us off the mountain, we made it in one piece to Airfield Estates Winery.
Airfield is in a complex with about 10 other wineries, and this was Red Wine and Chocolate weekend. It was busy. Most of the wineries participate in the event, where you buy a passport at the beginning, and you get a free tasting, some do barrel tastings or reserve tastings, and most do a discount on your wine purchase. As we discovered, there are all types of people. There are the people who are more serious about tasting, and finding good wines, and then there are apparently a bunch of folks that are trying to get wasted (maybe its a Yakima thing). This is a “bring your own glass” event, and we saw glasses with logos, and glasses with bras, and several people that had a little holder that hung around their neck and holds the glass – a hands-free glass if you will. Now if that little hands-free device would just tip it up to their mouth, that would really be awesome! But I digress.
Since there were so many wineries in a small area, I’ll summarize: the high points, if you will.
Airfield: good, not outstanding. Their wines were good, but nothing spectacular. My favorite was their higher end red blend, called The Aviator. Jon also really liked The Spitfire, which is a Sangiovese blend. They served a delicious fudge brownie with fudge sauce too.
Milbrandt: they had some good whites, a Riesling that was semi-sweet, and a Chardonnay that Jon liked. We picked up a bottle of their Pinot Gris that our server recommended, so I hope that it is good. Jon really liked their Estate Syrah too.
Gamache: what to say about Gamache. Their regular line of wines wasn’t that great, but the reserves were pretty good. The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was excellent, and the Reserve Malbec was very good too. And the teeny, tiny winery dog, a Yorkshire Terrier was friendly and adorable.
Apex Cellars: Apex’s grocery store line is Washington Hills, and it is mediocre. But we did their reserve wines, called the Apex Ascent and they were where it’s at. Jon and I both enjoyed them a lot.
Martinez and Martinez: The hidden gem of the day. We hadn’t heard of this winery, but enjoyed their wines a lot. Their Cesar red blend is excellent, and they also have a very good Rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon. We will be looking for their wines at home.
Coyote Canyon: I liked their white blend, and they do an Albarino (which is a Spanish varietal, and rare in the states). Unfortunately, it was sold out – but we got to barrel taste the next vintage. I hope to be able to buy the Albarino when it gets released again.
We went to a lot of places, tried many wines, dumped many, enjoyed watching the Red Wine and Chocolate meat market before our eyes, and never even had to get back in the car! The strip mall approach has its advantages, but unfortunately, you do end up missing out on the ambiance. Jon and I enjoy having a picnic outside at a winery when the weather is nice, or sitting outside on the patio. I guess in February when it is cold out, it isn’t as big of an issue.
Well, enough for now, I’ll continue my thoughts on Prosser in my next post.