This appellation, which includes the winery-rich Tri-Cities area (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland) is Washington's largest viticulture region. With hundreds of varietals and rich volcanic soil, the Columbia Valley is home to more than 40 wineries, including Preston Premium Wines, the state's largest family owned and operated winery. The Prestons, one of the valley's pioneer grape growers, produce specialty Cabernets, Merlots and Chardonnays, and also lay claim to the state's largest antique corkscrew collection. To schedule a self-guided tour or special event (gazebo and lawn accommodates up to 1,000) call 509-545-1990.
Down the road at their new production and tasting facility, Gordon Brothers Cellars offers an “urban tasting experience” where visitors can enjoy award-winning Chardonnay then take in a professional ballgame, visit the Trade, Recreation and Agricultural Center or walk about Pasco’s shopping district. 509-547-6331 or visit www.gordonwines.com.
Across the Columbia River is Badger Mountain/Powers, Washington’s first certified organic vineyard and winery located in Kennewick. Using only chemical-free, naturally occurring substances, Badger Mountain produces some 25,000 cases of Fumé Blancs, Rieslings, Cabernets, and other select wines. The tasting room is open every day; tours are available by appointment. 800-643-9463,www.badgermtnvineyard.com.
Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland has been making premium whites and reds since 1977. Their charming, Mediterranean-motif tasting room features art and photography by local artists and space for private catered parties and sit-down dinners. 509-627-0266, www.barnardgriffin.com.
Travelers will find the Cascade Cliffs Vineyard and Winery seated along Hwy. 14 beneath 400-foot basalt cliffs towering over the winery’s north side. The area’s dry, arid climate is well-suited to this winery’s estate-bottled red varietals. Visitors may tour Cascade Cliffs from March to December (509-767 1100). A stone’s throw away are the Maryhill Museum (regional artifacts) and a replica of England’s Stonehenge.
Locals suggest...The Fiery Foods Festival, held in late September in Pasco, is for residents and visitors who live their food (and their music) flaming hot! Featuring locally grown peppers and other produce, a hot salsa contest, artisan displays, and Northwest crafts and collectibles, this festival has something for everyone. 509-545-0738.
Also in late September, Columbia Valley wineries celebrate the harvest during “Catch the
Crush,” where visitors can sample gourmet wines and tour the well-tended grounds. The winemaking process — grapes picked from the vine, tumbled into a hopper and crushed into aromatic juice — is the highlight. Catch the Crush features music, specialty arts and crafts, and live entertainment.