Southeast Washington's Tri-Cities area shares the same latitude as France’s fabled Burgundy and Bordeaux wine regions. Little wonder, then, that in and around the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland you’ll find more than 160 wineries. Add in some 300-plus days of sunshine and an assortment of culinary, cultural and recreational activities, and it’s enough to make even the French jealous.
Prep yourself for an afternoon of sampling syrahs—the local favorite—by enjoying the area’s outdoor wonders. Set an early tee time at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick, which shares Golf Digest’s highest course rating for the state. The more adventurous can hop aboard a tour with Columbia Kayak Adventures to explore the Columbia River.
For a good look at the region’s cultural heritage, stop by Sacajawea State Park and Interpretive Center in Pasco. Set at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, the park’s seven engraved basalt “story circles” are part of Maya Lin’s Confluence Project, which reinterprets the history of Lewis and Clark’s expedition from a Native American perspective. Chew on the topic over a home-style meal and gourmet chocolates at Pasco’s renowned Country Mercantile.
From here, it’s a mere three miles to Preston Premium Wines, the area’s first winery. Sip one of Preston’s 18 port wines and savor the view from an elevated tasting room and deck.
Just to the west of Richland near Benton City lies the Red Mountain AVA, Washington’s most award-winning viticultural area for cabernet, merlot and syrah. All three of these varieties are combined, along with cabernet franc, to produce Hedges Family Estate’s flagship bottle, Red Mountain. Indulge in this structured blend’s dark fruits and hints of smoke and earth inside Hedges’s authentic French chateau. Then pop into Kiona Vineyards and Winery, known for producing world-class yet affordable wines. The winery’s easy-drinking Lemberger, made from an unusual central European grape—the first of its kind to be produced in the United States—is a must-try.
Finish up with a visit to the Tuscan-inspired Terra Blanca Winery & Esteate Vineyard. Pick between robust reds, crisp whites and luxurious late-harvest wines, such as the rich 2005 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine, and offer your own hearty “Salut!” to Washington wines.