The Heart of Washington Wine Country
The Tri-Cities, comprised of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, is located in southeastern Washington in the Columbia Valley AVA.
With more than 300 days of sunshine, coupled with nearly perfect soil and temperature conditions, similar to that of the Bordeaux region in France; the Tri-Cities region is the perfect area for growing wine grapes.
Surrounded by vineyards and more than 200 wineries within a one-hour drive, the Tri-Cities truly is the Heart of Washington Wine Country.
An hour’s drive to the east you’ll find more than 100 wineries in the famed Walla Walla Valley. Driving north on Interstate 82 you’ll find dozens more wineries from Prosser to Zillah and beyond.
Prosser, which is just 30 minutes north of the Tri-Cities. is home to more than 30 wineries. As the urban landscape fades into the countryside, visitors will enjoy this small agricultural community, which is rich in history and is often recognized as the “Birthplace of Washington Wine.”
Embrace Prosser’s laid-back lifestyle while enjoying a day tasting at a variety of wineries, from boutique tasting rooms to nationally recognized producers.
And just 15 minutes Northwest of Richland, you can take in the 13 wineries on Red Mountain, which are located just outside of the small town of Benton City, WA.
Red Mountain is Washington’s hottest AVA, literally and figuratively. What was once a dry and desolate hill is now an acclaimed growing region. One of the best features of Red Mountain wineries is that many of the wineries are smaller and operated by the winemakers or owners who can give visitors the inside scoop on each vintage — a “must-do” for visitors who are looking for a truly authentic wine tasting experience.
See the article about Red Mountain in the Wine Regions section of DiscoverWashingtonWine.com.
The Tri-Cities, in a nut shell, serves as a base camp to enjoy the celebrated Columbia Valley wine region, whichever direction you choose to head in. With so many wineries to visit, you can’t do it all in one weekend, so plan to stay longer when you visit, or visit a number of times a year.
Having talked about using the Tri-Cities as a base camp for your wine tasting travels, you don’t have to venture out of the area to experience some of Washington’s finest wines.
There are several unique tasting rooms throughout the Tri-Cities, including three well-known wineries located in a cluster on Tulip Lane in Richland. Plan to dine at any one (or all) of the three wineries and enjoy cuisine that has been expertly paired with their wines.
Barnard Griffin Winery, Bookwalter Winery and Tagaris Winery are the three wineries that call Tulip Lane home. Barnard Griffin’s owner-winemaker Rob Griffin has been making wines in Washington for 41 years, and is arguably the dean of the state’s winemakers.
The winery produces a broad array of wines from dry whites to hefty reds, plus a rosé of Sangiovese that is a perennial award winner, a topnotch Syrah port and an Orange Muscat that’s a perfect off-dry alternative for anyone who’s not yet a fan of bone-dry whites or bold reds. The winery also features a nice restaurant, The Kitchen at Barnard Griffin, which offers a limited but broadly appealing variety of both small plates and entreés.
At J. Bookwalter Winery, John Bookwalter is the second generation of his family in the wine business. The winery produces a nice mix of wines ranging from dry Chenin Blanc and Riesling to a well-regarded white blend dubbed Couplet, along with some hefty reds with literary names such as Protagonist and Foreshadow. Fittingly, the winery’s full-service restaurant is named Fiction. And the truth is, the food is excellent and the setting comfy and laid-back. On weekends, it’s a bustling place.
Tagaris Winery boasts a range of wines from dry whites to hefty reds, but it’s better known for its food, with a menu ranging from small plates to hearty, aromatic soups and stews and grilled meats. A grilled steak at Tagaris is an experience you’ll never forget.
Other wineries in the immediate Tri-Cities area that you will want to visit are Badger Mountain Vineyard/Powers Winery, Chandler Reach Vineyards, Analare, Tucannon Cellars, Farmhand Winery, Gordon Estate Winery, Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, Kitzke Cellars, Longship Cellars, Market Vineyards, Purple Star Wines, Sleeping Dog Wines and Sun River Vintners.
Columbia Gardens Wine Village
The City of Kennewick, WA. celebrated the opening of its new Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 3rd.
The project, perched just off of the Columbia River’s south shoreline, is a joint venture between the Port of Kennewick and the City of Kennewick, with a financial boost from Benton County. The Wine Village will be the new home to Bartholomew Winery, known for its boutique operation in the old Rainier Brewing complex in south Seattle, and Monarcha Winery, owned by one of the state’s most talented younger winemakers, Victor Palencia.
Bart and Chona Fawbush of Bartholomew are reinventing their winemaking operation from Seattle’s SoDo district inside one of the new Kennewick buildings and also have moved to the Tri-Cities. They plan to keep the Rainier facility open for tasting and sales.
Palencia, known for his Palencia Wine Co. based in the cluster of wineries at the Walla Walla Airport, in the fall of 2018 plans to make the wines for his Monarcha label in a second new building next to Bartholomew. The two operations will share a third building to house climate-controlled barrel storage for their operations.
Columbia Gardens, located at 421 Columbia Drive in Kennewick, is part of a downtown Kennewick revitalization project the community has worked on for more than a decade.
If you are looking for a place in the Tri-Cities where you can enjoy a glass of wine and maybe a few light bites after work, or to take a date on the weekend, there a several such spots that fit the bill: The 3-Eyed Fish Wine Bar on Keene Ave. in Richland, Ms. Rhoda’s Wine Garden on Jadwin Ave. in Richland, Wine & More on South Zintel Way in Kennewick, Bin 20 Wine Bar inside the Red Lion Inn in Pasco.
For a list of wineries in the Tri-Cities region, log on to: www.visittri-cities.com.
Last, but certainly not least, you can enjoy a cruise on the Columbia River while having a glass of wine with lunch or dinner with Water2Wine Cruises.
Moored at the City of Richland marina at Columbia Point, the cruise line’s Yacht named M/Y Chrysalis takes passengers north on the Columbia River while serving guests lunch or dinner and a great selection of Washington wines. Water2Wine Cruises operates year-round and owner Jay Denney says that the holiday season from Thanksgiving through the New Year is one of his busiest times of the year.
For more information about Water2Wine Cruises, call (509) 578-1717, or visit: water2winecruises.com.
While the Tri-Cities region is home to many award-winning wineries, there are also two important wine education facilities in the area: the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center and the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center.
The Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center opened June 4, 2015, on the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus in Richland. Upon it’s opening, the Wine Science Center became the largest and most technologically advanced wine research and education facility in the world.
This 40,000-square-foot facility includes a state-of-the-art research and teaching winery, research laboratories, classrooms and meeting spaces that serve as a gathering place for industry members, students and visiting scholars from around the world.
Named after Washington wine pioneer Dr. Walter Clore, the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser is a unique wine tasting and education destination that showcases Washington wine’s quality and diversity by offering an in-depth taste of each wine region which changes monthly.
Lots of sunshine means the Tri-Cities is not only the Heart of Washington Wine Country, but also “America’s Bread Basket”. The local bounty is shared at farmers markets throughout the region from May to October. It’s easy to fill a picnic basket (or a pantry) with the freshest produce along with other tasty offerings. Local produce inspires menus of restaurants throughout the Tri-Cities which are best enjoyed watching a spectacular sunset.
Choose from an array of comfortable accommodations in Richland, Kennewick or Pasco — hotels with a touch of luxury, comfortable B&Bs, vacation homes and affordable R.V. Parks are all available in the Tri-Cities. Whether you’re here for business or pleasure, you’re sure to find just the right place to enjoy your stay. Log onto www.visittri-cities.com for a complete list of Tri-Cities lodging options.