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Wine Scene: Spring wine tasting looks a little different this year

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It’s spring in Yakima Valley wine country, one of the most popular times to embark on a wine-tasting adventure.

Educational tastings and dinners, drive-thru case sales and new-release parties are all happening this month. Any one of these experiences is the perfect spring wine-tasting outing.

Keep in mind, however, that due to COVID-19, these wineries are under strict restrictions on capacity. So make sure you call ahead and let them know you are coming.

Two Mountain Winery, Dineen Vineyards and VanArnam Vineyards are re-imagining Spring Barrel Tasting this year with an educational workshop outlining what winemakers are looking for during the winemaking process. “Inside the Barrel” offers 30- to 45-minute seated educational sessions and tastings with winemakers from three different wineries.

Two Mountain Winery winemaker Matthew Rawn will describe his philosophy of tasting through wine barrels and what he looks for at various stages of development. Tastings will include 2019 cabernet sauvignon from three different barrel regions, American, French and Russian barrels, along with the current 2018 cabernet sauvignon from the bottle.

David Rodriquez will guide you through several wines made at Dineen Vineyards and discuss blending considerations. The tasting will start with a viognier and move to barrel and in-bottle samples of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, allowing for comparison. It will finish with a tasting of the popular Bordeaux-style Heritage blend.

Your stop at VanArnam Vineyards will include sitting down with winemaker Brandon Seymour to learn the different techniques winemakers use to influence flavors in the wine. You will taste syrah from two barrels — new versus neutral — along with 2020 malbec in the barrel and 2018 malbec from the bottle.

Tickets cost $45 per person, which includes tastings and educational sessions at each winery as well as discounts and a gift at each stop. Book your itinerary by calling or visiting the website of any of the participating wineries. Sessions are available Saturdays and Sundays the next two weeks.

Warmer weather means it’s time to enjoy dinner on the terrace with Terra Blanca’s annual dinner series. The meal includes three decadent courses. Entrée choices for this Friday include grilled New York steak and salmon, rack of lamb, pappardelle Valdostana and pasta giardiniera. Pricing is $35 per person with an optional appetizer for $9. A complete wine list is available for purchase by the glass or bottle. Reservations are available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Visit the website or winery to book your reservation.

If you are out this Saturday, you won’t want to miss Terra Blanca’s best wine sale of the year. The second annual drive-thru case sale will take place between 9 a.m. and noon. Plan on arriving early as wines often sell out before noon. This once-per-year sale offers deep discounts to get your wine rack ready for spring and summer sipping.

Spring is synonymous with rosé. If you haven’t found your favorite pink wine of the season, this is your opportunity. Milbrandt Vineyards is holding its Rise and Rosé event this Saturday and Sunday and April 24-25. Enjoy the new 2020 rosé with brunch-style food, live music and merchandise from local artists (Saturdays only). Reservations are required.

Stop by Barrel Springs winery north of Prosser April 23-25 and enjoy the 2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Blend straight from the barrel, artisan cheese from Holland and Utah paired with other award-winning wines. The outdoor patio overlooks the vineyard, allowing for social distancing and great views. Reservations are not required but are suggested. Tastings are available from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

• Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries. She writes this biweekly column for SCENE.

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