Yakima Valley, Taste Where it Grows

On average the sun shines more than 300 days a year on the fertile Yakima Valley, making it a mecca for wine, spirits, and farm-to-table food.

Published: 8/01/2016

On average the sun shines more than 300 days a year on the fertile Yakima Valley, making it a mecca for wine, spirits, and farm-to-table food.

Wine Home to more than 17,000 acres of vineyards, including Washington State’s oldest AVA, the Yakima Valley provides the grapes for more than one-third of the wines produced in the entire state. Besides nearly 100 wineries and five distinct AVAs within 70 miles, the Yakima Valley provides grapes to an impressive number of winemakers throughout the Pacific Northwest. When you visit the Yakima Valley, you come to the source. Expect to find Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc … the list goes on! It’s likely you’ll also meet many of the people behind the wines. It’s not unusual to shake hands with a winemaker or grower in the tasting room and have them lead you on an impromptu stroll through the vineyard. Winemaker dinners, horseback vineyard rides, and laid-back wine festivals are all regular parts of the calendar.

Craft Beverages The Yakima Valley provides ideal growing conditions for hops. In fact, an astounding 78 percent of the hops grown in the United States come from here. The hopgrowers produce more than 30 different hop varieties, making it a craft brewer’s paradise. There are plenty of craft breweries to visit—friendly spots where you can sample brews while you gaze upon the hop fields where they were grown. Local ciders and distilled spirits are also easy to find, because there are thousands of acres of tree fruit here too! The Yakima Valley’s artisan cideries and distilleries are crafting an enticing list of hard ciders, fruit brandies, and vodkas. Stop in and learn firsthand how it’s done.

Food With more than 40 commercial crops, the Yakima Valley has the largest variety of fresh grown produce in the Pacific Northwest. The valley is dotted with U-pick farms, and every community has at least one farmers’ market—some of which run year-round. Many of the restaurants build their menus around the freshest ingredients and often purchase them from the growers themselves. The connection from farm-totable is seamless. In fact, many Yakima Valley residents will tell you that they invented the farm-to-table concept. You’ll find culinary creativity at every turn—from the finest restaurants to the taquerias and taco trucks.

A True Destination Besides an inspiring wine, craft beverage, and food scene, the Yakima Valley is sunny, relaxed, and friendly, making it an ideal escape. For lodging, visitors are finding an increasing number of unique options. One of the newest properties, Hotel Maison, features an art gallery in the lobby and adds a historical elegance to the revitalized vibe of downtown Yakima. “Local brews and wines attract a large percentage of our guests,” says Hotel Maison General Manager Lisa Vallejo. “First-time guests are fascinated that there is so much to do within walking distance, and that they can tour so many local wineries and breweries within a few miles.” To learn more, see visityakima.com

As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2016 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.