Day 11: Touring the Yakima Valley

Our original plan for today was to do a short drive, just an hour and a half to Walla Walla, but when we got here it seemed like too much work to unpack everything and repack everything just to go such a short distance. Also, we would have had to visit whatever wineries we wanted to see in this area in the hour or so we had available yesterday afternoon. So we booked a second night here and cancelled our hotel in Walla Walla. That means we drive as far as Liberty Lake tomorrow, but even that is only four and a half hours, and we can still drop in at our favorite Walla Walla wineries on the way through.
So we got to sleep in today, or at least Caroline did. Figuring we’ll likely have the hotel’s complimentary breakfast tomorrow, we went out and had breakfast at the Barn this morning. Then we stocked up on picnic supplies and in the afternoon we went partway up the valley and stopped in at Silver Lake Winery. Their parking lot was empty, but one gaggle of other visitors did stop in briefly. We tasted a few of their wines and then had lunch on their deck overlooking the vineyard. It’s hot here today, above normal. Mid thirties in Celsius, low to mid nineties in Fahrenheit. We sat in the shade. After lunch we went back in to ask for recommendations for other wineries to visit, and met the winemaker, William Ammons.
After lunch, we looked for one or two of the nearby wineries he had suggested, but we decided to skip one, and the other wasn’t open today.
Bonair was open, we stopped in there. On summer weekends, they do tapas, and you can snack in the tasting room or make a meal of them on the patio.
Next stop, Tefft. As soon as we pulled in, I remembered it from our last visit, and I was pretty sure we didn’t like their wine. We didn’t like it this time, either.
Next stop Tucker Cellars. This one was fun. The tasting room was open, but deserted. We could have grabbed an armload of wine and run for it, I suppose, but instead, after looking in the office, we stuck our head into the actual winery, where the vats were, and called out, “anybody home?” Randy Tucker came out and told us all kinds of interesting stuff. His take on why Chardonnay has taken a turn for the lighter lately is that the heavily oaked wines make an impression at wine competitions and score well, but restaurants don’t like them because diners find they overpower the food. Personally, I like my wine have some guts. The recent fad for Pinot Gris would be great if I lived off rice cakes and plain popcorn, but at our house even the chicken dinners usually feature barbecue sauce, or cheese, or something. So I’m looking for light reds or very assertive whites. Anyway, we liked Randy’s Viognier and I thought his Rose Pinot was memorable, but I don’t know what food I’d serve with it. Salmon, he said, and I would go for a light Pinot with that, but not one as light as this. California rolls, maybe.
Low fuel light came on, so we started scoping out prices. They ranged all the way from $4.05 to $4.29 in the space of only a few miles. No price fixing here, apparently. Finally we settled on a Safeway gas bar where it was posted at $4.13. Unfortunately, my Safeway card saved me only three cents a gallon, not the five cents a liter I get in Canada.
We made it back to Prosser just in time to dart in to Coyote Canyon a few minutes before they closed at five. I was all tasted out, but Caroline liked their Viognier.
I notice that they pronounce Viognier ‘Veen yay’ here. I’m sure I googled it once and confirmed that it’s supposed to be ‘Vee own yay’. Uh huh. I just looked it up again. There are many ways to pronounce it, but ‘vee ohn yay’ is the generally preferred way. I have also heard ‘Vone yay’. My pronunciation of Merlot, though, has been wrong. Because it’s French, I thought it should be ‘Mare low’ but apparently ‘Mur low’ is okay and even ‘Mur lot’, but not Mare anything. I shall mend my ways.
The one fancy restaurant in Prosser that we remember from before seems to have vanished. We didn’t actually try to drive past where it used to be, but there’s certainly no mention of it in any of the hotel’s listings. There’s a Mexican place just down the street. It’s kind of bar-like, but what they lack in wine, they make up for in Daiquiris, apparently. There’s also a Chinese place with a name I like: The Golden Horse. (This area is known as the Horse Heaven Hills) However, Caroline points out that we can get good Chinese food at home, whereas our part of Canada is not known for its Mexican restaurants.

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