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Wine Country Escape

Yakima Valley: Scenic and Sparkling

Here's how to spend a day in the state's original grape-growing region.

By Sean P. Sullivan September 14, 2021

Rolling hills at Owen Roe.

Image: Brooke Fitts

Washington’s oldest grape-growing region harbors more than a quarter of the state’s vineyard acreage. Yakima Valley might be better known for its abundance of hops, tree fruit, and vegetables, but it’s truly the cradle of Washington wine.

Start the day with bubbles, ones good enough to pour at White House State Department receptions since the Hillary Clinton days. Treveri Cellars just outside Yakima makes nothing but sparkling wine. German-born Juergen Grieb earned a degree in sparkling winemaking before relocating to Washington in 1982. In 2010 he launched Treveri (with his wife, Julie, as general manager and son, Christian, as winemaker) and produces everything from sparkling syrah to müller-thurgau. Outdoor couches and broad umbrellas dot the tasting room patio; Treveri also serves food—and plenty of mimosas.

Grapes from Oregon and Washington get equal care at Owen Roe.

Image: Brooke Fitts

Nearby at Owen Roe, David O’Reilly has been making some of the state’s most delicious wines since 1999. Fruit mostly comes from the valley that surrounds the winery, a barn-style building in classic red that stands out against a backdrop of rolling hills, grapevines, and Mount Adams. Though he’s a longtime Washington winemaker, O’Reilly shows equal skill with fruit from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, including its famed pinot noir. The broad lawn invites picnics, or at least alfresco tasting flights.

Tamale master Felipe Hernández.

Image: Brooke Fitts

Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse.

Image: Brooke Fitts

A nationally acclaimed tamale shop hides in tiny Union Gap on the way back to town. The James Beard Foundation bestowed one of its America’s Classics awards on family-owned Los Hernández Tamales, which serves tender pockets of masa filled with pork, chicken, or the springtime favorite, asparagus and pepper jack. If you can, grab some frozen tamales to take home. Or double back downtown to Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse for a prime rib dip or chop salad in a dramatic building designed by Graham Baba Architects.

Los Hernández is one of a few local purveyors that sets up a regular tent at Gilbert Cellars, a winery west of the city that should be your final stop before calling it a day. After a dozen years of running a downtown tasting room, the winery shifted its visitor setup to the actual production site. It’s outrageously scenic, filled with gardens, grassy expanses, and bucolic views. No wonder so many couples get married here.

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