Monday, October 5, 2009

The Crush Is On!

Who would have known? This spring was so cold and wet that many grape growers were afraid that this year would be a total bust. Now, after months of record setting high temperatures we are looking at one of the biggest bumper crops of wine grapes to ever hit the region. Heavy clusters of huge, perfectly ripe berries are headed to crush pads throughout the northwest, and the wineries are celebrating!

Every year at this time the region comes to life again with wine celebrations. This year, thanks to the bumper crop conditions, it seems that vintners are really rolling out the red carpet to guests. Crush festivities abound starting this weekend, and running through the next few weeks. If you get a chance to break away this weekend I highly suggest joining in on the fun.

For years the Columbia Valley Winery Association has been celebrating crush the last weekend of September. Wineries from Pasco to Prosser will be in full force party mode this weekend, with bands, food, tasting, and local artisans showing their wares. Just a few of my friends who are offering celebrations in this area are Anelare, 360 Cellars, Barnard Griffin, Bookwalter, Goose Ridge Estate, Tagaris, Buckmaster, Canon Del Sol, Hightower, Kiona, Oakwood, Sandhill, Seth Ryan, Tapteil Vineyard Winery, Terra Blanca, Preston winery, and Columbia Crest.

A few of the larger celebrations that I’ve heard about are happening at Barnard Griffin, where there will be salsa tastings and artists, Terra Blanca, where my friend Frank Magana will be serving fantastic foods, and Oakwood Cellars, who will be featuring a full-on carnival with artisan booths, music, and caterers. Some vintners will also offer old-fashioned grape stomping experiences to those who wish to try it.

If you are in the Pasco vicinity I highly recommend visiting Gordon Brothers located off of the Kahlotus-Pasco highway. This rarely open to the public vintner will be open this weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

In Prosser, the vintners are also opening their doors with food and fun. Milbrant will be featuring live music on their patio, and the entire airfield area will come to life this weekend with the most beautiful balloon rally of the fall season. Get up early to watch the sunrise, as the balloons dance in the skies and on the river through downtown Prosser, then catch the crush action throughout the day. End your day with a visit to Picazo 717 restaurant where you can view some of my wine photography, and then finish the evening with night-glow activities at the airfield.

Now, if you’re like me and want to really experience crush like an industry professional, I hope that you’ll join us at Waving Tree Winery next Saturday October 3rd. The third is scheduled to be the day for Syrah harvest at Waving Tree. Terrance Atkins will be serving lunch to those who wish to join in the actual grape harvest next weekend. Expect to drive away dirty, tired, and completely filled with the joy of knowing that you helped produce some of the region’s best wine. This is a RSVP required event, so call the winery first to make sure there are spaces available. You can reach them at 509-773-6552.

Have a great crush, be safe, and enjoy!

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