Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bachelorette Wine Tasting in Yakima Valley

The "big day" is just around the corner for Purple Girl's friends, Nicole and Joel (henceforth known as Purple Bride and Purple Groom). And with pre-wedding festivities in full swing, it was time to head over to the Yakima Valley to do some wine tasting for Purple Bride's bachelorette party.  The theme of the weekend was "start classy, end trashy" and we did just that in our visits to Zillah area wineries... well, at least the "start classy" part.  So, without further ado, here are my reviews of the five wineries we visited.

First up... Portteus Winery.  If you didn't know it already, Washington has over 600 bonded wineries to date and is the second largest producer of wine in the United States, second only to California.  So, it is no small thing that Portteus Winery, founded in 1981 was the 13th bonded winery in the state and continues to thrive today.  They were also pioneers in the Yakima Valley, which was home to only a handful of other vineyards at the time of their first vintage.

It is safe to stay that the staff at Portteus was among the nicest of the groups we visited.  Not sure bachelorette parties have the best reputation with wineries in any area and yet they were accommodating and gracious from the moment we walked in the door.  Portteus has a wide selection of wines in a variety of price ranges yet even their most expensive wine only retails in the mid $30 range.  They state on their website that "when the economy is good, they make lovely chic wines and when the economy is bad, they make lovely cheap wines."  My personal favorite was the Purple Haze - a red blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Petite Syrah - and retails for about $30.  

Silver Lake. Silver Lake is a well known label in Washington State with tasting rooms in both Woodinville and Zillah.  They have been making wine since 1989 and have grown to over 50,000 cases annually.  While there are many pros to tasting and buying wine from a big name establishment like Silver Lake, it is not my personal preference.  The staff in the tasting room in Zillah operate like a big name winery and I didn't feel the personal connection I feel in small boutique establishments.  They are also the only winery we visited that had a tasting fee for even the non-reserve product.  That being said, I am a big fan of the new Girlie Girl label available for purchase in this tasting room.  The design of the bottle is fun, the wine is drinkable and reasonably priced, and some of the proceeds benefit breast cancer research - a winner all around.  I'm now the proud owner of the Girlie Girl Merlot (also named "Kayla"), meant for girls who love adventure and travel.  Sounds like a good match for this Purple Girl.

Cultura.  Hands down, Cultura was my favorite winery on this trip!  It wasn't originally on our planned tour, but a nice couple at Silver Lake insisted that it was worth the change in plans and boy were they right.  Unlike the first two wineries we visited, Cultura is a relatively new winery and has only been in business since 2005.  The owners, Tad and Sarah Fewel, do all of the work themselves and made roughly 600 cases of wine in 2010.

Cultura's wine is smooth, full of fruit and has long and lingering finishes.  They only make reds and, after tasting every varietal they make, I can't say there is one in the bunch I wouldn't want to own.  I settled on three - Merlot and two different Cabs.  It is easy to pass the time in their classic and charming tasting room.  Pair that with Tad and Sarah's friendly nature while tasting their fabulous wines and you have the perfect recipe for a happy afternoon.

Two Mountain. Another great winery - rates second on Purple Girl's list for the afternoon.  Founded in 2002 by brothers Matthew and Patrick Rawn, Two Mountain has a wide variety of wines, including Reisling and Chardonnay, and harvest most of their grapes from their own Copeland Vineyard.

In addition to Two Mountain's delicious selection of wines, they also have an interesting crew of characters (aka dogs) lounging around the tasting room.  These funny companions enjoy spending the hot Yakima afternoons on the cool concrete floors.  My favorite canine was a yellow lab named Gus who took a special liking to Purple Bride.  Apparently Gus enjoys being the center of attention and will happily roll over for a belly rub.  He adored the rubs from Purple Bride so much that he would bark when she stopped giving her affection.  Purple Groom may have some competition.

Bonair Winery. Bonair was established in 1985 and is a well known presence in the Yakima Valley.  Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Shirley and Gail Puryear, Bonair is a breathtaking location to visit.  Even better, Shirley is engaging, entertaining and full of marital wisdom that she eagerly shared with Purple Bride.  In fairness to Bonair, they were the last stop after a great deal of consumption.  I skipped several of the tastes offered to save myself from a purple hangover.  They did, however, offer a unique and memorable experience for Purple Bride, complete with a serenade from Slava, the Serbian farmhand armed with a guitar and a charming smile.

And that wraps up a fun filled adventure in wine tasting.  There were many more great memories as the evening wore on but those moments probably not fitting for a "classy" blog such as this one. Congratulations to Purple Bride and Purple Groom!!  And remember, "whatever you have, own it!"


Debi Austen said...

If the limo wasn't purple when you started, I hope it wasn't when you finished :-)

Unknown said...

Thank you, Purple Girl!! A perfect recap of a perfect day wine tasting in Yakima Valley :) Can't wait till the day you have your own Yakima Valley winery we can visit!
Love, Purple Bride xx

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