Zillah Welcomes Three New Tasting Rooms in 2019

Simcoe Creek Winery, Velen Winery and Bosma Estate Winery are the “new kids on the block” in growing Rattlesnake Hills AVA.  Simcoe Creek schedules Grand Opening Celebration on “Catch the Crush” weekend Oct. 12-13.

By Jeanene Sutton

Joe and Allison Campbell, who opened Simcoe Creek Winery in April of 2019, have scheduled a Grand Opening celebration for the winery during Wine Yakima Valley’s “Catch the Crush” Weekend on Oct., 12-13. Photo by Ivory Leininger.

The little town of Zillah, which is located in Washington’s Yakima Valley along Interstate 82, has welcomed two new wineries this year, and one more will be opening soon.

Simcoe Creek Winery, which opened this past spring, will hold a Grand Opening celebration on October 12 -13 during Wine Yakima Valley’s “Catch the Crush” weekend. The tasting room is located in the former Agate Field Winery building at 2911 Roza Drive. The celebration, which will start at 6 p.m., will include the release of Simcoe Creek’s 2017 vintages of three blends and five varietals and will feature Big Weezy’s BBQ and live music by Jayleigh Ann & The Lost Boys.

Estate grapes used in the winery’s inaugural vintages include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Semillon and Syrah. In addition, Simcoe Creek offers a Riesling and Muscat.

Joe and Alison Campbell purchased the vineyard and winery and took over operations this past April with guidance from former Agate Field owners (and friends of the Campbell’s), Bob and Ginger Radke.  Bob still stops by nearly every day to enjoy a Diet Pepsi and a visit with the Campbells. He often talks about the large amount of agates that have been found on the site over the years. He explained that this was caused when the Montana glaciers moved through the area.  The Radkes, in addition to growing wine grapes, also grew grapes for Welch’s grape juice company and the Simcoe Creek property is still home to 18 acres of Concord grapes.

The Simcoe Creek tasting room sits on a serene 7.3 grassy acres, and the winery itself includes 30 acres – 12 of which are currently planted in wine grapes. In the Spring of 2020, the Campbells plan to expand their vineyard to include Pinot Gris, Riesling and Muscat Blanc.

Joe, who enjoys big bold reds, says he’s excited for his 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vintages, describing them as having a “Nice body and mouth feel.”  In addition, Joe is proud of his “30 Miles South” blend – made up of 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc.

Simcoe Creek is a “Harvest Host” with 5 RV lots available for dry camping, plus they welcome guests with horse trailers to park and unload while enjoying a horse-back ride to wineries in the area (there are 5-6 tasting rooms within a 1-mile radius of Simcoe Creek). A Summer Concert Series is in the works for 2020.

The front patio of the winery overlooks a beautifully manicured lawn with views of Mt. Adams, and guests are welcome to enjoy a game of corn-hole, or wander the 7-acre property. The winery is also available as a wedding venue. Current hours are Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, visit: www.simcoecreekwinery.com.  Or call: (509) 895-4951.


When you visit Velen Winery, which made its debut in Zillah in February of 2019, you are likely to find either John or Rebecca Otis (owners of the winery) serving guests in the intimate tasting room that greets you as you drive onto the property. Photo by Ivory Leininger.

Velen Winery, owned by John and Rebecca Otis, made its debut in February of this year.  The Otis’s are wine veterans, having formerly owned Crossroads Winery in Texas, where they were the 44th operating winery in the state.  In 2010, they sold the Texas winery, and John, who is a 42-year veteran flight attendant with Delta Airlines, stayed on as the wine maker for the next two owners over the following five years. In February 2015, John and Rebecca visited the Rattlesnake Hills AVA on an anniversary trip during Wine Yakima Valley’s Red Wine & Chocolate Weekend and loved it so much that they put their Texas house up for sale. Within 12 weeks, they moved to Zillah to start Velen Winery.

The 9-acre property they purchased at 1381 Orchardvale Rd. previously included Riesling grapes, but they had been removed before they bought the property.  Rebecca said, “We immediately got to work planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah grapes with help from our neighbor Debbie Ermey.”  The Otis’s purchased grapes from other growers in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA as well. Interestingly, the winery name is a combination of both Rebecca and John’s mothers’ names – Vera and Helen.

The winery’s annual production is currently about 700 cases, and all wines are sold on site.  John and Rebecca just finished bottling 180 cases of Barbera and 160 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Their current wine offerings include “Sunrise” — a dry white wine with a silky finish made from a blend of Orange Muscat and Riesling;  “Sunburst” — a dry, crisp, refreshing Riesling; “Sunset Rosé” — a semi-sweet Rosé made with Black Muscat and Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Cabernet Sauvignon; and Barbera. John and Rebecca have also bottled a 2013 Graciano, which will be available soon in limited quantity

The Otis’s began making a sweet wine while in Texas that is one of their favorites, and they will continue to make this wine at Velen.  The wine, which is made with a base of Black Muscat, is called “My Cheeky Bastard.” Rebecca describes it as tasting like “A Jolly Rancher in a bottle.”  It will be available at the winery later this year.

Although the winery is open every day at 11:30 a.m., the Otis’s live on site and are happy to accommodate tasters whenever possible outside of regular business hours.  For more information, visit: www.velenwinery.com.  Or call: (509) 854-1120.


Bosma Estate Winery is set to open its first tasting room in downtown Zillah at 513 First Avenue – downstairs in the Granger Block Building — with a target date for a soft opening on Thursday, Oct. 3.   Owners Steve and Julie Bosma are long-time residents of the area, entering the wine industry in 2005. Prior to this tasting room, Bosma wines were available exclusively online.

Bosma Estates was “born from a love of small batch wine and quality grown wine grapes.”  They pride themselves on “their grape growing techniques of managing light and water, as well as producing some of the finest clones in the Yakima Valley”.

The Bosma’s venture into the wine business began with the purchase of Bosma Estate Vineyards. More recently, they have planted Diamondback Ridge Vineyards, which includes six different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon and two different clones of Malbec.

As their website explains, “We make very small batch wines, keeping the clones separate from harvest through bottling so that the wine consumer can experience these same differences. Though the nuances are small, they are very discernable. By sourcing the grapes from our estate vineyards, where we can control the growing conditions and terroir, we can then control for all winemaking variables such as yeast, type of barrel, age of the barrel, toast of the barrel and length of time in the barrel, thereby highlighting just the clonal differences between the grapes”.

Wines currently available at Bosma Estates include a 2016 Syrah sourced from their Estate grown old-vines; a 2017 Viognier; and a Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 8. In addition, they make a 2017 Roussane. Tina Bosma, tasting room manager, explains “this is the red wine that white wine drinkers like.” They will also be releasing a Malbec and Petit Verdot in the near future.

Tasting room hours at Bosma Estates tasting room in downtown Zillah are set for Thursday through-Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a plan of being open year ‘round. Learn more about Bosma Estate Winery by visiting: www.bosmawine.com. Or by contacting Tina Bosma at (509) 829-3332.