With the arrival of spring, local vineyards have been revived from their winter slumber, which can only mean one thing – ‘tis the season to be tasting!
I’ve never been a fan of road trips. Something about the idea of being trapped in a car for several hours sends me into a nail-biting frenzy. However, no amount of anxiety can hinder my passion for traveling – especially when a vacation’s headline reads: Weekend indulgence of velvety Washington wines.
Last month, I packed my bags (while thinking Wahoo! wine country) and headed to Yakima for the weekend. Although the town’s convenient location – just a two-hour drive away – permits an impulse decision to visit, my trip was premeditated by my pseudo in-laws (parents of my boyfriend of two years). The four of us jumped into my coupe (Mom and I relegated to the back, of course, so the men could take charge on the open road) and headed Southeast.
After a two-hour, surprisingly pain-free journey of blue skies and excitement for what lay ahead, we reached our destination. I concluded that the success of a road trip is much like an equation: When en route with the wrong type of travel companions (complainers, bad drivers, those who lack spatial boundaries, etc.) – oh the childhood memories – the result can be negative. As we ventured down the unpaved roads of Zillah (our first stop), the pastoral setting was picture perfect – almost as if we’d climbed inside a storybook illustration set in the early-American countryside. Each winery was generously spaced along a rural stretch of land, marked by cows and hay barrels.
The most memorable vineyard, Paradisos del Sol, appeared to be a farmhouse – although it wasn’t their wine that caught my attention. It was clear we had entered wine country through the backdoor when we were greeted by a man clad in railroad-conductor overalls (pinstripes and all) with a matter-of-fact attitude and a complexion that said I’ve been digging in the dirt. Surprisingly, his rugged appearance was a stark contrast to the tender attention he gave the smallest details in his presentation.
I gave him kudos for providing a personal touch of homemade chesses to pair with each wine – though I didn’t eat any after noticing his smoky-colored farmer hands (I know, my own personal hang up). The tasting took an unusual turn when we found ourselves roasting mini marshmallows on a toothpick over a candle (to pair with a dessert wine) placed in a rattlesnake holder, undoubtedly made in China. Strange but enjoyable, this vineyard can best be described as a roadside attraction.
After calling it a day, we headed back to Yakima to settle into our bed and breakfast. Its name, A Touch of Europe, spells out the essence of this indulgent, Victorian-style house. Every inch of the dwelling, run by a cheerful and attentive couple (the wife is originally from Berlin, Germany), was fitted with gorgeous antiques: teapots, jeweled Faberge eggs painted on decorative plates, a gold-plated rotary phone, intricately-carved wooden bed frames. The dinning was just as exquisite! Filet mignon drizzled with a creamy, black pepper sauce served with a side of Merlot flavored pasta and vegetables (dinner) and banana-infused oatmeal served with whipped cream and blackberry marmalade (breakfast) are two of the delectable meals we devoured. Erika Cenci (the wife) is