An eastern Washington wine frontier
Why go now: A boom in local wineries has turned the sleepy Yakima Valley into a go-to tasting area.
Wineries in 1986: 13
Wineries in 2009: More than 80
Downtown tasting rooms: 5
What Yakima has on Napa: No crowd-surfing required.
What Yakima has on Seattle: More than 300 days of sunshine each year.
Hours from Seattle: 2 1/2
Sister spirit: Locals like to call Yakima “the Palm Springs of Washington.”
Way to work off the vino: Pedal part or all of the 60-mile bike ride through Yakima (wineglasscellars.com), designed by Wineglass Cellars’ winemaker David Lowe.
Reason to come back: Yakima’s spring barrel-tasting weekend (Apr 24–26; three-day pass $30; wineyakimavalley.org), where you can sample wines straight from the cask at more than 50 wineries (although we wouldn’t actually recommend that).
Beyond the vines in (and close to) Yakima:
Discover the shops If you catch Yakima on one of its rare drizzly days, spend an afternoon browsing the boutiques in the town’s historic Opera House. Garden Girl (25 N. Front St., Shop 2; 509/452-2612) has a great selection of indoor and outdoor plants, while the French Hen (closed Sun; 25 N. Front St., Shop 5; 509/248-5783) sells charming country antiques.
Hit the local wine store Shop instead of sip at downtown Yakima’s Cascade Wine Co., which sells local vintages at prices equal to (or often less than) what you’ll find at the wineries themselves. Owner Jim Collins specializes in small producers and is happy to answer questions; he also stocks some of the best boutique vintners from across the state. Closed Sun; 26 N. First St.; cwcwine.com.
Take a dining detour Prosser, a tiny town known for its food, is just 40 minutes east of Yakima on I-82. Grab a light bite at Alexandria Nicole Cellars’ tapas bar ($; 2880 Lee Rd., Ste. C; alexandrianicolecellars.com) or dinner at Picazo 7 Seventeen ($$; closed Sun; 717 Sixth St.; 509/786-1116).