Washington state is one of the world’s great wine growing regions — on nearly the same latitude as some of the most famous French wine producing areas. We are the second-largest premium wine producer in the United States, with more than 1,000 wineries and 400 grape growers. Only California has more. We’ve come a long way since 1981, when there were only 19 wineries in the entire state.
The booming wine industry draws a ton of tourists to Central Washington, who tour wine country, buy wine to take home — and spend millions of additional dollars on things like restaurants, lodging and local shopping.
Our annual wine edition is a celebration of the local wine industry. As of April 2, Governor Jay Inslee has closed wine tasting rooms, restaurants and bars until at least May 4 in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Before making plans to visit a winery or restaurant, call ahead to see if it’s open to the public or if carry-out sales are available. And of course, you should continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing. The Washington State Department of Health and the Yakima Health District have the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak.
If you’re stuck at home, the spring and summer months are perfect for a light, beautiful glass of rosé on the patio. Molly Allen takes a look at the skyrocketing popularity of rosé and talks with some local vintners about how they get that wonderful flavor and color. We’ve also got suggestions on some good rosés for beginners from a wine expert.
When things get back to normal you may need a vacation. Wine country is a place you can get away from it all while still staying close to home. Christine Corbett Conklin shows you some unique options — everything from teepee “glamping,” to tiny homes, to a yurt with a view. And there’s transportation options so you don’t have to worry about driving if you’re taking tours of multiple wineries.
Glenda Tjarnberg introduces you to a winemaker whose family has farmed in this area for three generations. The Valicoff family has grown apples, cherries and pears since 1921. Rob Valicoff started a “hobby vineyard” 10 years ago. His hobby has now morphed into a 30-acre vineyard, the Valicoff Estates Winery; and a hilltop venue with a spectacular view for events like weddings.
But it’s not all about wine. Andrea McCoy answers the question “Will an Instant Pot Change Your Life?” We’ll take you along on a tour of the bakeries of Ellensbug, and you’ll see a 1944 home transformed into a modern place to display a cornucopia of local art.
So tip back a glass of local wine and enjoy the fruits of our Valley.
- Bridget Turrell