Tips for Wine Tasting This Fall
The season is turning. Nights are cooler and as the sun rises, there’s a mist on the valley floor. Soon gold and red trees will dot the distant hills. But more importantly, its harvest time in wine country. And if you plan right, fall is a great time to visit and immerse yourself in the wine making process.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy Washington wine country during the harvest:
- Plan ahead: Fall in wine country is a popular time for visitors coming to experience harvest and crush. But because there are so many extra visitors, it requires a little advanced planning for things like lodging, dining and activities. And if you’re planning to attend one of the bigger weekends, such as the Prosser Balloon Rally, Catch the Crush in October, or the Thanksgiving in Wine Country event the weekend after Thanksgiving, make sure and book quite a ways in advance.
- Use our official tourism website: We keep it updated with events, news and a wealth of planning resources. Plus it’s designed for your mobile device, so you can access from your phone, tablet or laptop while visiting the Valley.
- Learn before you go: Check out some websites about out the regions and wine making process. Brush up on the art of tasting and basic wine terms. And if you use Twitter and Instagram, use hashtags to follow the online conversations, like #WAwine #YakimaValley #WAHarvest and #Harvest2016.
- Wine regions are agricultural regions: With a few exceptions, most vineyards and wineries are located on rural back roads. That’s part of their charm. During harvest, expect more traffic, and especially farm equipment. In the Yakima Valley, the wine grape harvest also coincides with other fruit harvests, so be patient and obey the rules of the road.
- Designate a driver: Basic rule for any season. Be sure to reward them for their duty though, like buying their lunch or a bottle for later on!
- Pace yourself: Plan to visit up to five wineries a day. Your palette will go numb if you try to tackle too many wineries. Plus during harvest, you may want to linger to watch what’s happening.
- Expect a different mood: It’s very different at the wineries in the fall. There’s a tension and excitement as the winemakers and staff work to bring in the grapes and crush. The hours are long and all hands are on deck. Ask questions about what’s going on, but be respectful if they have limited time to chat.
- Prepare for the weather: And remember the wine! It may be cooler, but on sunny mild days the temperature inside a trunk or car can climb to a level not good for wine. Bring a cooler or two.
- Learn about dog friendly wineries: A great resource in the Yakima Valley is winedoggies.com
- Fly to Washington wine country: Want to avoid the hassle of driving over? Check out the Taste and Tote Program. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ members can check their first case of wine free when they fly out of Yakima on Alaska Airlines. And if you show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass, you get waived tasting fees at more than 200 participating wineries throughout the region. Plus Hertz Car rentals has deals year-round and waives drop off fees in the Valley!
- Try something new! The Yakima Valley has more than 120 wineries, but it’s also a growing destination for craft beverages. The Yakima Valley has a fantastic selection of cideries, craft breweries and distillers to sample from. Also, check out local produce stands and farmers markets for great veggies and fruit to pair with your wine!
With the right planning, a visit to the Yakima Valley during the harvest and crush is an exceptional way to learn about our fine wines. Enjoy!