This historic little town, just shy of Washington’s geographical center and a mere two hours from Bellevue, is the perfect weekend getaway for thirsty travellers. Not only was the Yakima Valley the first federally recognized wine appellation north of California in the 1980s, but the valley also grows more than 75 percent of the world’s supply of hops and claims to be the birthplace of contemporary American craft brewing when Bert Grant’s Brewery opened in 1982. Plus—newsflash!—apple orchards are kind of a big deal in these parts. Suffice it to say, top quality libations are Yakima’s specialty.
After a leisurely breakfast, cruise along I-90 east, cutting south on I-82 just past Ellensburg, following directions to the Naches Heights Vineyard tasting room. Rejuvenate your legs from the car ride with a walk along a portion of the 15 miles of trails traversing Cowiche Canyon accessible from the parking lot, then head in and sip selections from three separate wineries sharing the space.
Naches Heights Vineyard was one of the first vineyards in the state to procure both LIVE and Salmon Safe certifications. The high elevation and volcanic soils makes NHV a unique growing area. After 20 years of sourcing grapes from various vineyards throughout the state, Wilridge Winery planted its own estate vineyard at Naches Heights. Also sharing the tasting room is Harlequin Wine Cellars. The property features a large amphitheater where guests can take in live musical performances and enjoy food truck fare periodically during the summer months.
On the way into town, don’t miss a stop at Tieton Cider Works Cider Bar. Taste through the half dozen varieties on tap including apple, apricot, cherry and cranberry depending on the season. A six-cider flight is just $10.
Check into a posh room at The Hotel Maison, a beautifully renovated Masonic lodge, and freshen up before strolling two blocks west to Yakima Craft Brewing Co.’s tasting room (note: there is also a tasting room at the actual brewery located closer to the river about three miles northwest). IPAs are always on tap, but YCBC also boasts a significant rotation of seasonal brews and special releases like Good Monk, Bad Monk, Fresh Hop Honey Apple Ale and Achilles Barley Wine.
For dinner, continue west on Yakima Avenue turning right on South 1st Avenue (about a six-minute walk) for more beer and fantastic wood-fired pizza at Hop Nation Brewing Company. The low-key tasting room is even kid-friendly featuring a set of Hula Hoops and Ms. PacMan. Place a pizza order with Lori or Carrie at the HopTown Pizza counter—the three-day crusts are full of flavor and fire-kissed to perfection, topped with fresh ingredients that always include a smattering of Cascade hops. Belly up to the bar and grab a Daily Weiss or and ESBeotch. And relax.
Though breakfast and coffee are complimentary at The Hotel Maison, consider a cappuccino and pastry at North Town Coffeehouse located in the charming historic train depot building on North Front Street.
Hop in the car and head to Bale Breaker Brewing Company. Definitely make a short detour to Los Hernandez Tamales in Union Gap. Don’t let the unassuming cinderblock storefront fool you—there are seriously good eats inside. Order a few tamales to snack on while you sip beers at Bale Breaker. The family-owned brewery has been growing hops in the Yakima Valley since the 1930s.
Head back to town and get ready for a trio of wine tasting rooms. Park in one of Yakima’s free lots near Front Street. Start at AntoLin Cellars—a mash-up name combining owners’ Anthony and Linda Haralson. The wine line up includes both red and white selections with several estate options.
Directly across the street is the Gilbert Cellars tasting room, a festive art-filled atmosphere that pairs perfectly with a glass of wine. For a $5 tasting fee, guests can try five wines including Washington varietal superstars like syrah and cabernet sauvignon plus ever-popular blends like Allobroges and Left Bank.
Finish strong with a wine tasting at Kana Winery just two blocks east on Yakima Avenue, named for the native word for spirit or fire in the mountain paying homage to the volcanic soil that sustains the vines.
Don’t leave town before experiencing a meal at Yakima’s hippest new restaurant across the street. Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse is a polished American tavern with a few nods to Asian flavors. All sandwich breads and pastries are made daily from scratch and the cocktails are a perfect ending to a craft beverage-focused weekend.