So after filling ourselves and resting up after driving the 4 hours or so it took us, we woke the next morning to a typical “wet side” November day. Foggy, dreary and drizzly.
And honestly, I was okay with that.
I had two goals while on the east side. Find some fantastic new wines and go to a place where we visited when I was a teenager.
Yes. I said when I was a teenager.
When I was in middle school, my Mom, grandparents and I drove to Spokane, WA for my grandpa’s WWII Army unit reunion. Mom had been driving almost the whole time and she was like, “I need a break!” My Grandma agreed. I just didn’t care. I was a teenager stuck in the backseat of our car.
We were driving through Pasco and saw a sign for a winery. Mom decided that would be the perfect place to stop. The winery was Preston Premium Wines.
Fast forward 20 years…we decided we’d seek out Preston again. We weren’t disappointed this time around! The wines were fantastic and we were the only ones in the tasting room, so the service was impeccable!!
Now, of course, we got out there early…about a half hour before they were open, to be exact. So to kill some time, we drove around and found what has to be the most amazing place…Country Mercantile.
Yeah. This place pretty much rocked. Candy, pickled goodies (including pickled carrots & garlic…yummmmmmmmmm), fresh salsa…plus a deli. It was amazing. And for the weirdest, but most amazing flavor combination, try the chocolate dipped licorice.
After visiting Country Mercantile & Preston, we headed west towards Red Mountain.
Our first stop on Red Mountain was Hedges Family Estate. One of the reasons why I picked Hedges is because of their decision to not let scores dictate if their wines will sell or not.
Yup. They do not send samples to the major publications for scoring. And with good reason. Joe Schmoe, average wine buyer in the local grocery store, doesn’t understand what the scores mean and what the scorer means by “there’s a faint hint of vanilla with essences of cow poop and pig slop” (meant to be tongue in cheek if your sarcasm filter isn’t functioning correctly…).
Hedges has an entire portfolio of wines, including AVA-specific wines and wines labeled as Columbia Valley. My favorites from Hedges are the CMS Sauvignon Blanc and the HIP (House of Independent Producers) Rosé. Both are extremely budget friendly at $14 SRP for the Sauvignon Blanc and $18 SRP for the Rosé.
We also had great visits at Hightower Cellars with reds that’ll blow you away with their awesomeness (try the Out of Line Red and you’ll see what I mean) and Kiona, which makes some unique varietals, such as Lemberger and Grenache, but also some more “traditional” wines. They also had an 11-year old Merlot that was *amazing* and shows the true aging potential of Washington’s wines.
After Red Mountain, we decided on two more stops before heading back to our hotel.
Our first stop was Goose Ridge Vineyards. Their Rosé of Pinot Gris was my favorite wine. It was a lovely pink color with lots of stone fruit and red berry flavors. I paired this with Christmas dinner and it was a hit!
Our final stop was Barnard Griffin. Started in 1983, Barnard Griffin is one of the leading producers of quality, affordable wine from Washington State. Their award-winning Rosé of Sangiovese is probably the most notable from their lineup. And for good reason. Not only is it affordable, it’s a very, very good wine!!
So there you have it…a recap of my adventure in Eastern Washington. I aim to come back in 2013. So, Tri-Cities and the surrounding area…be ready for me!