Wineries, tasting rooms and great food make this a village worth visiting.
ONE OF THE joys of modern wine touring in Washington is the development of clusters and carefully planned villages. We’re seeing this perhaps most dramatically in Woodinville and downtown Walla Walla.
The advantages are many, with the primary convenience being you can park your car and stroll from winery to winery in a civilized fashion. It gives the opportunity to enjoy sunshine and fresh air, while easily visiting several wineries without getting lost.
Nowhere is this better done than at the appropriately named Vintner’s Village in Prosser, a town in the heart of the Yakima Valley that is the ancestral home of Washington’s wine industry.
Two from Vintner’s Village
These two wines are from wineries with tasting rooms in Vintner’s Village in Prosser.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills, $25: Its intense cherry aroma includes strawberry jam and fresh-cut hay, which leads to flavors of blackcap raspberry, black currants and blackberry jam.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2015 Pheasant Vineyard The Estates Late Harvest Riesling, Wahluke Slope, $25: Aromas of poached pears with honey, honeysuckle and powdered sugar. The resulting nectar is full-bodied, backed by caramelized pears, honey and lemon thyme.
Like a great wine sometimes happens, Vintner’s Village was a happy accident. The land was owned by the Port of Benton, which had a business lined up to move in. When that fell through, the owners quickly went another direction, creating space for wineries, complete with streets, electricity, water and other services.
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The first to plunge in was Thurston Wolfe, relocating from down the street. In 2006, the owners built a 7,000-square-foot building. This was an upgrade from the 2,400 square feet they were squeezed into for two decades and gave owners Wade Wolfe and Becky Yeaman room to grow to 6,000 cases and upward of 10,000 visitors annually. They’d considered relocating to Red Mountain but say they are pleased they chose Vintner’s Village instead.
Soon, other wineries followed, including Gamache Vintners, Willow Crest and Airfield Estates. Across the road is Winemakers Loft, a facility with several tasting rooms, all mere steps from each other. In all, there are a dozen tasting rooms here.
One of the keys to the success of any wine-touring area is food. Without, visitors will wander to the next town, unlikely to return.
Fortunately, Vintner’s Village has Wine O’Clock, the tasting room and restaurant for Bunnell Family Cellar. Inside is a wood-fired oven. The food is the best in the Yakima Valley. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, and you might forget you’re in Prosser and not in some Tuscan hilltown enoteca or perhaps a cafe off the square in Healdsburg in Sonoma County.