Here in California, I’m surrounded by wine. As a wine lover, though, I’m naturally curious about other wine regions. Lately, I find myself exploring more of Washington. From Walla Walla to Tri-Cities to Yakima Valley and Woodinville, there’s plenty to discover.
The Tri-Cities region is known as the “Heart of Washington Wine Country.” With 300 days of sunshine per year and more than 200 wineries, it makes a perfect wine weekend getaway. I like to start with a visit to the Red Mountain AVA, a short 20-minute drive from Tri-Cities.
Established as an AVA in 2001, Red Mountain is the smallest, warmest wine-grape growing region in Washington. Wine pioneers John Williams and Jim Holmes first planted grapes there in 1975.
Today, 15 wineries call Red Mountain home. Named after its soil’s reddish hue, Red Mountain produces red varietals, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Syrah. Hiking trails traverse this hillside. Visitors can even go wine tasting on horseback or in the back of a horse-drawn wagon.
Kiona, Col Solare, and Fidelitas are three of my favorites. Recognized as the 2018 Washington Winery of the year, Kiona is Red Mountain’s oldest winery. Owned by the Williams family, Kiona specializes in deep, rich reds, but also produces delicious, reasonably priced whites.
Situated high upon Red Mountain’s slopes, Col Solare is one of its newest wineries. This stunning facility, with fabulous views, was built in 2006. Owned by the Antinori family from Italy, Col Solare specializes in red blends. The Shining Hill, an English translation for Col Solare, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
Fidelitas, started in 2000, specializes in Bordeaux-style whites and reds. But owner and winemaker Charlie Hoppes’ favorite is his 2015 Red Mountain Merlot. He says merlot originally put Washington on the “wine map.”
Lodge at Columbia Point
If you go, the Lodge at Columbia Point in Richland, is a rustic, luxurious property on the Columbia River with stunning views. Complete with its own wine tasting room, guests can enjoy more of the region’s bounty.
Aspen Limo Tours, Roads2Travel, or Wineries Express offer tours. Red Mountain Trails provides wagon or trail rides.
Passengers flying out of the region’s three airports on Alaska Airlines can check a case of wine free—another good reason to visit.