Let's Drive to Drink . . . Wine Tasting in Yakima

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Spring barrel tasting in Yakima Valley is next weekend.
Hey gang, next weekend is spring barrel tasting in the Yakima Valley, a great excuse to round up a designated driver and go do some sipping.

These events are like the best parties you've ever been to, or a massive clusterfuck, depending on your attitude, alcohol intake, and the weather. Because who wouldn't be in a good mood sampling new releases from some of the best wineries in Washington while in sunny Yakima Valley? Or, conversely, be grumpy if the lines were too long to get a sample and you were stuck out in the rain? (I'm a glass-half-full kinda gal, so hoping for the first scenario.)

With careful planning, a working radar detector, and a packed picnic lunch, you could even make it a day trip. But if you do decide to do it as an overnighter, better make those hotel rezzies now or you'll be camping in your car.

The idea of tasting wines out of the barrel is to demonstrate the various stages of development fermented grape juice goes through. Think of it as French-kissing a teenager. Though it might be pretty darned pleasant, it's probably only going to get better as it ages.

I would definitely stop at Barnard Griffin, Claar Cellars (where they have a guess-the-varietal contest), Gamache Vintners (where Hog Wild BBQ will be selling its smoky fare), Goose Ridge Estates (where they'll set up a wine aromatherapy bar!), Kana Winery in downtown Yakima (where you can pick up a premier pass that waives all tasting fees), and Snoqualmie Winery (be sure and try the Naked wines made from organically grown grapes!)

Event organizers are not trying to be killjoys when they post this cautionary note: "Our members pour controlled amounts of their wines for tasting. However, tasting at several wineries, in close succession, can cause one to unwittingly consume alcohol above the legal limit. If you intend to visit more than one winery in a day, we recommend you employ a designated driver or limit your wine consumption accordingly."

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