Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wine is bottled poetry. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Our present location has us living in the middle of Washington's wine country!  There are over 160 wineries within a one-hour drive of the Tri-Cities and most are open to the public for tasting and tours.  We are trying to visit a few of the wineries while we are living here and have made it to 3 so far.  Some of the tasting rooms have a small charge which is refunded if you purchase a bottle (or more!).

A few facts:  We are in the Columbia Valley AVA and it is Washington's largest viticultural region.  There are 6,693 vineyard acres of wine grapes and Merlot is the most widely planted varietal.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Syrah are also grown here.  If you are really interested in wine - check out which is a guide to events and tours published annually.
Tasting at J Bookwalter

Our first visit was to the J Bookwalter  winery and bistro.  We chose this one because it is close to our apartment and easy to find.  It's a small venue with tasting, food and live music in the evening.  They have a nice patio area in addition to comfortable seating in a bar and lounge space.  Their ads state 'Literally, the best of Washington wine'  They play on their name with the wine labels.  We tasted Subplot, Conflict, Protagonist, Foreshadow and more.  The staff wear shirts with the wine names on the front and the literary definitions on the back.  
A bottle of Subplot to enjoy later!

Terra Blanca is really impressive

We went to Terra Blanca winery on the recommendation of the sommelier at J Bookwalters.  He had told us that this was his favorite winery - figured we couldn't go wrong there!  Terra Blanca has tours of the wine making process on the weekends only.  We hoped to get in on the tour, but it was full.  Tours are $15 and include tastings.  When we arrived and asked about the tour, the guide offered to take us down to the barrel room and caves before his regular tour started.  The ladies at the tasting area asked us what our favorite kind of wines were and they gave us a generous pour to take with us on our 'quick look tour'!    We tasted several varieties and bought a bottle of Syrah to take home.  They have a huge terrace in addition to the indoor seating if you want to enjoy a glass or bottle while you are there.  Food is available on weekends only.  The grounds and views from here are wonderful.

Touring the barrel rooms

Tasting room at Terra Blanca
Part of the outdoor terraces
Terra Blanca

Badger Mountain winery was the last winery we have visited so far.  This location was chosen because it is up on Badger Mountain and the brochures stated we could 'savor breathtaking views of the valley below and our abundantly landscaped roses and indigenous, drought resistant plants'.  Badger Mountain is Washington's first certified organic winery and also has NSA (no sulfites added) wines.  This was a bare bones tasting room and shop.  No bistro or appetizers - they did have a cold case to buy some cheese and sausage to eat outside on the picnic tables with your wine though.   This vineyard even makes box wines! (keepin' it classy)  We enjoyed the wines and the prices were reasonable.  We bought a Syrah $13, Chardonnay $10 and Rose $5 per bottle!  The views were not really breathtaking - mostly of the neighborhood below the winery and the termination winds were blowing so we didn't take advantage of their picnic tables.

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