Many of Washington's tasting rooms come with a bonus - being able to enjoy the wines with a view.
Whether they're perched on a hilltop overlooking a valley, or steps away from an outdoor patio nestled in the vineyards, winery tasting rooms frequently provide a tranquil setting and beautiful scenery to accompany the great wines they serve.
And don't think that just because we're moving into fall and winter that there won't be much to see and do outdoors. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons to visit Eastern Washington. Not only do you get some breathtaking fall colors in the red-to-yellow spectrum, the daytime temperatures can still easily reach the upper 60s to low 70s, with nearly always dry conditions.
That's a welcome break from the gray, drizzly days we westsiders begin to see far too much of this time of year.
There are a number of Yakima-area wineries that give you expansive views of Yakima Valley. Do some tasting, buy a glass or bottle, bundle up if you need to, and sit back and enjoy the scenery at these three options:
Hyatt Vineyards - Still going strong after 25-plus years, this Zillah winery has always offered reasonably priced wines. If you haven't been there as of late (like me), you might be impressed (as I was) with how solid and true-to-the varietal these wine are.
Try the 2012 Pinot Gris (about $10), with tropical lemony flavors and a splash of residual sugar to the balance out the brisk acidity, or the 2011 Zinfandel (about $15), with touches of bittersweet chocolate, dried cherry, black plum and spicy pepper.
For a small step up in price, the winery produces some very nice wines under the Roza Ridge label.
Knight Hill Winery - Not far from Hyatt, and with even more spectacular views, is this winery in the Rattlesnake Hills Appellation.
Be sure to check out the 2012 Verdelho (about $15). It carries distinct aromas and flavors of toasted coconut, along with a hint of spiced pear and a creamy finish. The rarity of this wine among Washington winegrowers, alone, makes it worth the visit.
Windy Point Vineyards - Closer to Yakima, Windy Point's Frank Lloyd Wright-style tasting room overlooking the valley includes a full kitchen, tasting bar, and lounge and dining areas.
Stroll through the nearby rose gardens and then enjoy a taste of the 2007 Pointless Red (about $17), an approachable blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.