This spring, the Yakima Valley -- the oldest, largest and most diverse wine growing region in the state -- is hosting host a variety of food, wine and cultural events. Located two to three hours from Seattle in south central Washington, the valley produces nearly half of the state’s wine grapes and lays claim to more than 70 wineries.
Following are the region's upcoming culinary highlights:
Drink Pink! Rosé Pre-Release Party
Join Winemaker Greg Fries as he celebrates the return of Desert Wine Winery's dry rosé. Tickets are $25 and include samplings of the wine, rosé-inspired appetizers, live jazz and a bottle of the 2009 dry rosé to enjoy at home. Clients can walk the pink carpet in pink attire and have their photo taken. The event takes place from 2-4 p.m. Only 50 tickets are available.
Yakima Valley Spring Fling Festival
While Yakima Valley wineries unveil their latest wine creations for tasting, this sixth annual festival showcases countryside events and celebrations. In addition to wine tasting, there are several family-friendly activities such as outdoor arts and craft fairs, parades and carnivals, cheese factory tours and family bike rides.
April 17-18 and April 23-25
Rattlesnake Hills Barrel Tasting
Clients can experience two weekends of complimentary wine sampling directly from the barrel and the chance to speak with the winemakers about their selections. On April 17-18, visitors may experience shorter lines and more one-on-one time with the winemakers. April 23-25 brings live music, crafts and foods along with wine sampling. Event times are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and no pre-purchase tickets are required.
Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting
This weekend features winemakers and cellar staff from 50 participating wineries. While basking in the sunshine and friendly wine culture of the valley, clients can sample varietals directly from the barrel, finished wines from the bottle and Northwest cuisine. Several other fun activities are included. Event times are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Visitors who reserve a Wine Yakima Valley Premiere pass for this event get a signature event wineglass.
Cooking Class and Spring Wine Dinner
Chef Bill Wavrin of Glen Ivy Hot Springs Resort hosts an intimate cooking experience and presents a wine dinner in partnership with winemaker Greg Fries. The cooking class costs $45 per person and includes two glasses of wine and sampling of all food prepared during the class. The course is from 11 a.m.-1 pm. and space is limited to 18 participants. The multi-course wine dinner takes place from 6-9 p.m. Dinner costs $90 per person and includes wine pairings for each course. Cooking class/spring wine dinner packages are available.
Ninth Annual Fiesta Grande
This cultural event has become known as the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in Washington state, bringing fun and entertainment to downtown Yakima.
Included are a parade on Sunday at 1 p.m. featuring charros on horseback, youth ballet and folklorico groups, live entertainment by mariachis and a beer garden. Festivities take place in downtown Yakima in front of Millennium Plaza from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 509-453-2050.
Canine and Wine
Participants meet at the Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast and Barn in Zillah at 11 a.m. and enjoy a leisurely walk with their pets to selected wineries, sipping wine in support of dog rescuers. A minimum donation of $10 is requested and includes a chance to win a bottle of wine at each location, with fresh water and yummy treats for the canine companions. Dog trainers await at each winery to provide demos and answer questions. Lunch is available at Cultura Winery for an additional donation.
May 9-Oct. 31
Yakima Farmers Market
Each Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in downtown Yakima, visitors purchase fresh produce, flowers and specialty foods directly from the farmers and artisans themselves while enjoying live music, a variety of ethnic foods and kids activities. Entry to the market is free.
Your Canyon for a Day
This 35-mile round trip bike ride meanders through the scenic Yakima River Canyon. The road follows the Yakima River up gentle grades with few hills. The highway is closed to traffic, which makes it a perfect ride for the whole family. The ride takes place between 9 a.m .-3 p.m. and benefits the Yakima County Crime Stoppers. www.crimestoppersyakco.org
Treaty Days and Yakama Nation Cultural Center's 30th Anniversary Celebration
The Yakama Nation Cultural Center presents Native American crafts, art, food and information booths from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The day’s festivities include a fun run/walk at 7 a.m., flag raising by Yakama Nation Warriors at 9 a.m., parade at 10 a.m. and salmon luncheon at noon. This event is free and open to the public.
Mural in a Day
Since 1989 during the month of June in the town of Toppenish, a mural is completed in one day. This event affords guests the unique opportunity to watch as 12-14 artists bring town's newest mural to life. Friday includes a Treaty Days parade at the Yakama Nation Cultural Center and mural tours by horse-drawn covered wagon. The mural painting takes place on Sunday, along with live music and entertainment, a mural treasure hunt and raffle. This event is free and open to the public.
Beginning at 7 a.m., tractors travel from Union Gap to Zillah and back. Tractors need to travel 8-10 mph, display at least one American flag and feature a slow-moving vehicle triangle.
Prosser Scottish Fest and Highland Games
Central Washington's only Scottish Fest and Highland Games takes place at the Port of Benton Wine and Food Park. The celebration includes a dance competition, heavy athletic games, traditional Scottish food and entertainment, and the infamous anvil launch. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Gates open at 8:30 a.m., with free parking. 509-786-3177
Chateau Champoux's Lemberger/Lamburger Barbeque
From 11 a.m.-4 p.m., clients who take part in this Prosser event can sample Lemberger wines produced from Champoux Vineyard grapes, enjoy a lamburger barbeque, enter into gift basket drawings and listen to live music. Tickets are $50 per person or $90 per couple. All proceeds for the raffle benefit the American Heart Association.
Sunshine and Wine
Celebrating the food and wine of the Yakima Valley, this annual event at State Fair Park in Yakima brings together local restaurants and wineries from around the state. They provide samples from 2-4 p.m., with a live auction taking place from 4 -6 p.m.