The drive from central Oregon to northern Idaho was too long for one day, so we decided to split the difference and stop in Washington wine country. We were thinking about dry camping a couple of nights at wineries, but temperatures were forecast over 100 degrees. With 50A electrical connections a requirement so that we could run both air conditioners, we picked a highly reviewed RV park in the tri-cities area where we’d have a couple of options for wining.
The drive up 395 through Oregon was extremely scenic, with mountains, forests, deserts and hills. The terrain north of Battle Mountain was very interesting and not exactly like anything we’d seen before. (Sorry, but there were no pull-outs, so we don’t have any pictures.) Traffic was extremely light. Eventually we hit the freeway and the rest of the drive was easy but dull.
We ended up in the tri-cities: Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. It is a mid-sized metro area, and good winery options are available in the surrounding area. The RV park we chose had no shade trees but otherwise was pretty nice for being a large parking lot. Sites had very good separation, and I’ve been on golf courses that had worse grass. It truly made you want to throw your shoes away, at least as long as you were on grass. The asphalt was a little warm, what with highs of 106 one day and 109 the next.
We spent Friday wining. Walla Walla was an hour away and seems to be the hot area now. In the other direction, Prosser had a number of wineries and was pretty close (less than a half-hour away). Tastings there were inexpensive (generally $5, waived with purchase) and the wines seemed to be reasonably priced. There were other options as well, but we decided to start with Prosser and figuring we could hit Walla Walla on Saturday if we didn’t get enough of a fix in Prosser.
Desert Wind Winery was our first stop. Reds there ran $18-40. (Not two-buck Chuck, but that’s inexpensive compared to many wineries. For comparison, at our first stop in the Willamette Valley, the reds started at $75/bottle and went up from there.) Unfortunately, nothing we tasted knocked our socks off.
Our next stop was 14 Hands, a spin-off of Columbia Crest. Their main line is “grocery store” wines (mass produced from a variety of vineyards). However, they have reserve wines available at the tasting room. The tasting was really great, because when we said that we were only interested in reds, the lady handling the tasting did a non-standard tasting for us. We were able to compare the regular and reserve cab and merlots, the 2011 and 2012 vintages of the reserve Syrah, and their reserve red blend. We thought that the inexpensive wines were pretty decent for their price point (probably around $10-11 at a grocery store), and we liked several of the reserve wines and took a bottle with us. While we were not blown away so much that we bought a case and joined the wine club, we really appreciated the opportunity to compare their different wines and I’m extremely happy we stopped there.
After a pause for lunch, we hit Daven Lore Winery. This felt like a very small winery. We started with reds. I liked them more than Oma, although we did agree on a Malbec. After tasting the reds, in conversation it came up that Oma likes some sweeter whites. Out came two more bottles. Oma loved the Riesling. Then the Muscadelle; Oma didn’t like it quite as much as the Riesling, although I thought that it was the more interesting wine of the two. When they suggested pairing the Muscadelle with carrot cake, I was sold. Somehow after a reds-only tasting we walked away with two whites: one each of the Muscadelle and Riesling. Oma now owes me a carrot cake when we get home.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars was our next stop. The tasting room was located in a small strip mall, although the inside was much more inviting than the outside. Shortly after we began our tasting, a (loud) group of three arrived, one of which was clearly well known by the bartender. We were initially concerned, as his focus was very much on that party. However, all ended well – since that group got pours of several wines not on the normal tasting list, we did as well. The extra wines included a reserve Viognier that Oma actually liked, a reserve Cab Franc and a members blend that was the winning blend at a wine members blend competition at the winery. So what could have completely spoiled our tasting turned into a positive and our favorite wines of the day. Four wineries in a day is definitely our limit, so we declared success and headed home with a few bottles of wine in the back.
The following day we opted to clean, shop, cook and make progress on the blog. This is the last larger metro area that we’re likely to stay near, so we took advantage of having Costco and Fred Meyer nearby. We laid in enough food to pretty much get us home, cooked up some ribs and made fresh bread. We also picked up fresh Washington peaches at the store and Oma made a cobbler.