Yakima Valley has a long history of award-winning wines and critically acclaimed vineyards. In addition, it is the state’s oldest American Viticultural Area (recognized in 1983), and its vineyards supply over half of Washington’s wine production.
On Feb. 13, I participated in an evening of food and wine tasting at Yakima’s historic Capitol Theatre. The event, titled “Secret Crush,” kicked off Yakima Valley’s traditional Valentine’s Day weekend of Red Wine & Chocolate festivities, and featured the best of the best from more than 20 valley wineries and vineyards.
Barbara Glover, executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, and her staff did an excellent job organizing and presenting the first-of-its-kind event for the area. Glover promised it would be “an awesome wine tasting event…with the top wines in the Valley, and in many cases, the top wines in the state.”
By all accounts, she exceeded participants’ expectations … mine included.
The event showcased dozens of small-production wines, 90 point-plus wines scored by publications including Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, and gold medal winners from such competitions as Seattle Wine Awards and Northwest Wine Summit.
With wines of such high caliber, it’s difficult to even begin to choose a favorite. But of the wines I tasted, here are standouts I thought were particularly notable:
Sparkling wines: Treveri Cellars Non-Vintage Blanc de Blancs, and Treveri Cellars Non-Vintage Rosé Sec.
White wines: Naches Heights 2012 Riesling, and Owen Roe Winery 2013 DuBrul Vineyard Chardonnay.
Red wines (single varietal): Airfield Estates Winery 2012 Malbec, Cultura Wine 2011 Meek Family Estate Vineyard Merlot, Hightower Cellars 2011 Merlot, Kestrel Vintners 2011 Petite Verdot, Lookout Point Winery 2009 Malbec, Lookout Point Winery 2011 Grenache, Portteus Winery 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc, Reflection Vineyards 2012 VanArnam Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Two Mountain Winery Reserve Brothers 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Red wines (blends): Côte Bonneville 2006 Carriage House, Kana Winery 2009 Scarlet Fire, Owen Roe Winery 2011 Gap Vineyard Bordeaux-style blend, Reflection Vineyards 2011 Mélange, Thurston Wolfe 2009 The Geologist, and Upland Vineyard 2008 Teunis.
Keep in mind that because of the limited production of many of these wines (in some instances, 50 cases or less), the best place to find them would be directly from the winery or by ordering online. Be prepared to pay a premium on some of these wines, although, I suppose, that’s the price one would expect for this level of exclusivity.
For more information about a visit to Yakima Valley wine country, including area wineries, vineyards and upcoming events, go to wineyakimavalley.org.