Here’s a great idea for anyone who enjoys visiting wineries in Eastern Washington — go to the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser.
I’ve travelled to scores of tasting rooms over the past three decades and, simply stated, a visit to the Clore Center is unlike any other.
The facility opened to the public in May of last year and is named for the late Walter Clore, a viticultural researcher whose work was instrumental in determining that Washington’s soil and climate could support vineyard growth and the production of premium wines.
Clore Center includes exhibits, meeting rooms, a state-of-the art kitchen for cooking classes and demonstrations, an adjacent 2,000-square-foot pavilion that can accommodate special events and weddings, and a patio and beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking the Yakima River.
Even with all those amenities, the center’s focal point is the tasting room and lounge, and I would make the trip over for that alone. It’s spacious and contemporary, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a substantial tasting bar, helpful staff, and a seating area with sofas and high-back chairs that invite guests to relax and linger over a glass of wine.
The tasting room offers a different lineup of Washington wines each month that almost always features one of the state’s 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVA). With the focus on the grape-growing AVA rather than an individual winery, you’re able to taste and compare wines that share a common geographic source but are produced by different wineries.
April Reddout, the tasting room manager, says “Our monthly wines are as unique as the AVAs. We feel that good varietal representation and good price point representation are (most) important. (Wines are) determined by a committee that includes the tasting room staff, wine industry personnel, and members of the center’s board of directors.”
In addition to wine tastes for a small $5 fee, visitors can purchase wine by the bottle and food from a small menu that currently includes cheese plates, soup, sandwiches and paninis ... perfect for lunch or an afternoon nosh.
Reddout says the center also has plans to launch a wine club later in January. The unique club will include some of the center’s most-popular-selling wines from the prior month, as well as exclusive offers of older vintages rather than new releases. That gives you “more exposure to wines you might not normally find,” Reddout notes.
The tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and additional information can be found at theclorecenter.org.
Go, learn a bit about the agricultural wine regions of Washington, and taste some good wines in the process. I can hardly think of a better way to start the New Year.