Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

Wine or Bust in Washington

Fire in the Sky amid the Cascade Mountains

With it being Washington in the middle of January, I was expecting to enter into a torrential non-stop downpour that would certainly dampen the mood or a freak snowstorm that would impede access to the other side of the Cascade Mountains where the vineyards reside, and where I had been yearning to taste Washington’s specialty wines for quite sometime. To my immediate delight, neither one of my initial concerns occurred, and with my friend Wynne in the driver’s seat, the roads were bare with nothing but a fire in the sky and my burning desire to taste quality wine amid the consoling vineyards.

Wynne and Seattle

It was quite early in the morning when we left Seattle bound for a 3 1/2 hour journey toward the town of Richland in the middle of the wine country, and so we decided to stop at a cool little mom & pop coffeeshop just outside Ellensburg where we were rejuvenated with some quality coffee. It was the perfect halfway-point pit-stop.

Jennika's Coffee House

Coffeeshop sign

A little while later we hit the Horse Heaven Hills just outside the town of Prosser on our way to the first winery of the trip and I insisted we stop so that I could take a few pictures of the beautiful landscape. The pictures came out fairly well, but it was Wynne’s superb photo that encapsulated the reason why I wished to stop. Great photo Wynne!

On the open road amid the "Horse Heaven Hills" near Prosser, Washington

Soon enough we reached the first winery on my list: Columbia Crest. It was essentially a strike-out, but the place was nice and it somewhat reminded me of a Italian villa.

Columbia Crest Winery - Paterson, Washington

Columbia Crest Winery - Photo 2

The next winery we visited, of which I will prudently not mention by name, was quite relic-like in appearance, but produced some tongue-biting driveway cleaner that I avidly believe shouldn’t be labeled as wine. It was quite horrible and I couldn’t wait to leave to head the next winery. Although, we were quite hungry and itching for something scrumptious to eat, and to our fortuitous advantage, when we asked for a recommendation on a cool place to grab a bite, the wine host gladly referred us to the Tagaris Winery & Restaurant.

Tagaris Winery & Restaurant

Tagaris Winery Restaurant

Labeled as one of the top restaurants in the area, I can certainly attest to that. I ordered the Greek Burger as was in amazement on how great it was. Wow, it makes my mouth water just relishing the memory of eating this tasty delicacy.

The Greek Burger - House-made Sausage & Lamb Burger, Lettuce, Tomato, Tzatziki, and Feta. Served with Yukon Crinkles

We were well fed, but had no quality wine to show for it yet. I knew we still had the entire afternoon and the following day to visit several other wineries on my list, but I was somewhat anxious; it was either good wine or bust.

After having a pleasant time at the Tagaris Winery Restaurant, we set off to the Gordon Brothers Winery where I had set up a special private appointment with the winemaker.

Gordon Brothers Winery - Pasco, Washington

Tim, the Gordon Brothers winemaker, was a totally cool, knowledgeable guy, who gave us plenty of barrel tastings and an in-depth tour of the facility. After tasting the first few wines, I knew that we had struck wine gold; it was all fabulous. Thus, I soon became a happy camper and was relieved to have found some superb wine.

Winemaker providing barrel tastings

Winemaker searching among the barrels at Gordon Bros Winery

After our visit, Wynne and I took in the awesome sights surrounding Gordon Brothers Winery.

Columbia River and skyline outside Gordon Brothers Winery

The following day we visited the Col Solare Winery, considered the best amid Red Mountain vineyards, and it was here that Wynne fell in love with the wide assortment of cheeses at our scheduled food & wine pairing session. Wynne wasn’t super enthusiastic about tasting wines, but was a great sport and enjoyed picking up on more information about how they’re produced. However, when it came to tasting cheeses, she was game! Now, I can taste a huge difference among wines, but I am not as strong when it comes to cheeses. Although, Wynne seemed to be quite the opposite as she was easily able to taste a great difference among them all. Therefore, it seems we both greatly benefited from this visit.

Col Solare Winery Sign

Col Solare Winery - Red Mountain AVA, Washington

Col Solare Bottle-light reflection

Red Mountain vineyards with sun flare

Wine, sliced meat, and cheese pairing at Col Solare Winery

Wynne and I at Col Solare

Although the Col Solare Winery had some tasty red blends, I thought the wines at Gordon Brothers Winery contained more depth and elicited many more special characteristics, in addition to being quite affordable as opposed to paying over $75/bottle for Col Solare. Gordon Brothers Winery is certainly on my shortlist of wineries to purchase wine from.

Upon our return to Seattle, Wynne and I soon ventured around town and I was able to get a taste of what it’s like.

Seattle, Washington

With Seattle being a port city, it of course reminded me of San Francisco quite a lot, and among the hoards of young people and random coffeeshops laced throughout the city, it felt like I was pleasantly back in college. When we passed an interesting looking coffeeshop called “A Muddy Cup”, Wynne and I decided to double-back and check it out. We weren’t disappointed. This would be a place I’d totally chill at if I happened to live in Seattle.

A Muddy Cup Coffeehouse - Seattle, Washington

Frog and mug

Inside A Muddy Cup Coffeeshop - Seattle, Washington

After getting our fix of coffee, we then met up with Boo Young (Wynne’s boyfriend), and Brooke, both of which also taught English in South Korea for a year and of whom I also befriended. We had a great time venturing around “The Pike” in Seattle and it was great to catch up with them in their home city.

Fruit Shopping at The Pike - Seattle, Washington

The Ol' South Korea Trekking Gang

Seattle is definitely on my list of places I’d love to visit again someday in the near future. Thanks for being a great host, Wynne!

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This entry was posted on January 22, 2012 by in USA and tagged , , .

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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