Grape Expectations in Washington Wine Country

Wine is just one of Washington wine country’s charms.

The wide-open landscapes of rural wine country are speckled with rolling waves of emerald vineyards stretched out among vast blonde fields of wheat.

And while you’ll certainly want to savor the region’s signature consumable, there’s plenty else to fill your glass. In Kennewick, begin with a walk at Columbia Park, a 400-acre city park that stretches along more than four miles of Columbia River shoreline. Kennewick boasts a bevy of retail shops, but if you want to splurge, stop in at Thompson Hill Cellars for a bottle of Oro, a red blend named after the Spanish word for “gold.”

Then head south to Columbia Crest Winery, with its massive French-château-style tasting room that’s a springboard for tours and strolls in immaculate gardens. In nearby Prosser, the French vibe continues with open-air Prosser Farmers Market and scenic parks to plan a picnic.

Next stop: the Yakima Valley town of Toppenish. Take in the town’s 70-odd Old West murals, which tell the story of the valley’s bygone days; then head to the Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Center to learn about the ancient fishing, commerce, and cultural hub at Celilo Falls, now submerged by the Dalles Dam. If you need another fresh-air fix, both the Toppenish Wildlife Refuge and Fort Simcoe State Park, a relic army post, offer easily accessible trails.

Up the road in Yakima, Benton City’s Sleeping Dog Wines show off their most popular employees: the resident pooches.

Learn more about Washington's wine regions and tours.

—Christopher van Tilburg