(Lots of photos, non-quilty)
(Quilty blog to follow later this week)
We just returned from a very fun and informative week-end. A dear friend and her brothers organized a trip to eastern Washington for 36 friends. Washington state is second only to California in amount of wine produced, with somewhere between 500 and 700 wineries. (we got conflicting information). There are acres and acres of land devoted to grape vines and it is a BIG business. On Friday after work we boarded a chartered bus and headed to the town of Yakima, on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. There were hearty snacks before we boarded the bus and loads and loads of snacks onboard. While driving along, we had wine trivia games, with prizes and also door prizes, just because. [all wine related] We arrived in Yakima approximately 9pm.
At 9am on Saturday morning we headed out to visit the first of six wineries. It was, in fact, highly informative to learn the proper way to taste (sip, slurp, smack and breathe) wines. Each vineyard was most welcoming and happy to answer all our questions - many of them pretty basic. We learned the difference between aging in stainless steel and aging in oak, and talked about corks and screw tops and even wine in boxes (originated in Australia). Our organizers had made everyone a name tag as well as providing us labels to put on wine boxes, so that we could each file away our purchases underneath the bus, in our own box. People were tired but feeling enthused about our new knowledge by the end of the day.
This morning we gathered a bit earlier, as we were driving further east, from Yakima. First stop was a family owned farm where they grow both grapes and hops (for beer). We made two further stops, one before lunch and one afterwards. Each was referred to as a Wine "Village", with multiple vintners at each. The first had 5 wineries represented and the second with 8. These were more like little shops where they sold wine, but were not where the grapes were grown (as opposed to Saturday, when we were out on peoples farms.) While Saturday was a bit grey and dreary, today was gorgeous sunshine. Each day we had a picnic lunch, arranged by our organizers. They really outdid themselves. We all learned a lot, had great fun and will get to sip throughout the summer, hopefully remembering all we learned.
Beginning our wine tasting lessons:
Lots of apple orchards:
Hops on the right; grapes on the left: