Autumn is a vibrant time in the Yakima Valley. Days are getting shorter and leaves are turning red and orange, dotting the horizon with beautiful warm colors, a sure sign that fall is in the air.
Autumnal moments are different for everybody. Some pass with little notice while others roll in with great attention and tradition. Regardless of how you see the onset of fall, celebrating the rites of the new season is a must. This is the time of year to focus less on rosé and more on bold, beautiful red wines.
Following is a list of wines that pair perfectly with the rites of fall:
■ The first fireplace fire: Snuggling up to a warm fire is a great relaxer. Make sure to have a bottle of JB Neufeld 2015 Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($35). This cab includes 13 percent cab franc, giving the wine light herbal aromatics that will only get better as the room warms up.
If you need a backup, Milbrandt Vineyards 2016 SVS Katherine Leone Syrah ($42) is the bottle to reach for. On the nose this wine offers dark fruit — plum, boysenberry and blackberry — with supple tannins and layers of vanilla and toast flavors. This is a jammy wine with a full mouth feel, ready to warm you up in front of the fire.
■ Back to school: A true sign of autumn is the annual back-to-school trek. Whether you are actively rushing kids to the school bus or not, you will enjoy Yakima Valley Vintners 2017 Easy A Chardonnay ($14). Although it is not a red wine, this chardonnay is teased in autumnal overtones. It is clean and crisp with perfumed layers of apple, pear and honey.
■ Hunting for and carving the Great Pumpkin: After a thorough search for the perfect pumpkin, relax with Sleeping Dog Wines 2014 Carménère ($30). This is a well-balanced and satisfying wine, particularly after lifting and thumping pumpkins. It starts with plum and light vanilla aromas with loads of red fruit on the palate.
■ Tailgate parties: The robust flavors and warming attributes of Rhône reds make them the perfect wine for tailgating. Co Dinn Cellars 2015 GSM Red Blend Lonesome Spring Ranch Vineyard ($45) boasts hints of cocoa, black cherry and pepper that will match any parking-lot grilled meat you throw at it.
Or try Tanjuli 2014 Nebbiolo ($38). Known to many as the emperor of the red wine world, this wine will pair fabulously with any tailgate grill. If you can hang on to the bottle, extended aging will bring out even more flavor.
■ After fall yard work: The AntoLin Cellars 2015 Estate Malbec ($30.25) shows the elegance of this grape. This wine dances lightly on the palate with notes of raspberry, pomegranate and light pepper. Perfect for sipping while the moment of a leafless yard and bright fall flowers linger.
Another choice before more leaves fall, or maybe after they fall again, is Wit Cellars 2016 Petit Verdot ($50). This wine is incredibly balanced with aromas of black fruit and floral notes such as lavender and sage. I love the texture and mouth feel of this wine.
■ Trick-or-treat wine down: After a cool stroll around the neighborhood with your kids and the “parental requirement” of going through their goody bags, break out a bottle of Kitzke Cellars 2015 Candy Ridge Vineyard Field Blend ($65), a mineral-driven wine with a softly spicy blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot with aromas and flavors of red and dark fruits, bay leaf and herbs.
Each of these wines can be found in the local tasting rooms throughout the Yakima Valley. For a map and additional information, visit www.wineyakimavalley.org.
• Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries.