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Olympic Peninsula – Oct. 2017
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Ashland – Oct. 2017

Reaching for Some Friends @ The Tri-Cities

Tri-Cities scene

Tri-Cities tourism experts talk things to do in Eastern Washington.

Chocolates, wine, and friends made this evening most enjoyable. Representatives from 11 Tri-Cities companies made the three-hour drive from Eastern Washington to Seattle to show off the Tri-Cities bounty. It was an opportunity not only to see what’s going on in this area, but to greet old friend and meet some new ones.

The first person I saw near a giant pile of gourmet chocolate was Max’s smiling face from the Country Mercantile http://www.countrymercantile.com/. We chatted about his second store opening, which is great news. My only disappointment was that Max was not serving their famous homemade zesty tamales and enchiladas. However, I was a big hit with my son when I took a box of the chocolates home later that evening.

Chocolates

Chocolates from Country Mercantile are sure to please.

Next I chatted with a friend from Barnard Griffin Winery http://www.barnardgriffin.com/, Enologist Megan Barnard Griffin, associate winemaker. Last year at the winery, I visited with her dad, Rob Griffin. Meagan gave me a glass of Malbec Reserve with wonderful, soft fruit flavors. I also enjoyed the Merlot with its gentle oak taste. While I enjoyed the wines, Meagan talked about their new Bistro Wine Bar (live music on weekends) that just opened. Her dad has been winemaker in Eastern Washington for more than 30 years. I asked Megan when he might retire, to which she replied with a nice smile and a shrug.

Barnard Griffin Winery Tri Cities

Eastern Washington’s Barnard Griffin Winery produces some of the premium wwines in the state.

I visited with Jordan Youngs, Director of Marketing for Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Center http://www.visittri-cities.com/. First we needed to discuss weather and sports, two passions that we share. Then, Jordan introduced to me to some new folks, including Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas Red Mountain Wines http://fidelitaswines.com/. These are some of the elite wines found in Eastern Washington. Charlie is owner and winemaker and like Rob Griffin of Banard Griffin Winery, Charlie received his Enology degree at the prestigious U.C. Davis program and was the winemaker at one of the bigger wineries in Washington between 1990 and 2000. My favorite wine was the Cabernet, which has the tastes of red cherry and soft spice and is sourced from the Red Mountain AVA (short for American Viticultural Area, a designated wine grape-growing region).

Continuing with the Red Mountain theme, I visited the folks from Terra Blanca Winery http://www.terrablanca.com/. This is the third time I have met someone from this great winery and each time I have loved their wonderful wine. Their ONYX Boudreaux blend has a rich, but not overpowering taste. A “must visit” is their tasting room with its stunning views of rolling hills, Red Mountain slopes and the Yakima River Valley.

Red Mountain Wines

The wine growing region around the Tri-Cities is an American Viticultural Area (AVA), a designated wine grape-growing region.

I was about to thank Jordan for the great evening when he said I needed to chat with Lisa Tommey of Visit The Reach http://www.visitthereach.org/. The Hanford Reach is a special place along the Columbia River, a 51-mile-long section that is the only free flowing non-tidal stretch of the Columbia in the U.S. Lisa showed me photos of sand dunes, sweeping vistas, shrub steppe landscape, spring wildflowers, and wildlife and I was ready to go. Wow, all this great scenery in the desert and it’s just a short ride from Seattle.

Kayaking in the Tri-Cities area

One of the joys of the Tri-Cities area is kayaking the mighty Columbia River.

So I’m making plans to visit the Reach via a jet boat with an all day tour of this wonderful landscape. While I’m there I will be sure to visit all the fine wineries. There are over 200 wineries in the area so I have some research to do and choices to make. I’ll let you know my choices in an upcoming article. – by Michael Fagin, RFT Contributor

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Michael Fagin

Michael Fagin is a freelance travel writer who has traveled over the last 10 years across Canada and visited all the major Canadian wine regions. Mike is currently touring the Pacific Northwest enjoying the wine country, dining, and hiking. While he is not writing, Mike is a meteorologist for West Coast Weather, LLC, forecasting weather for the West Coast of the U.S. as well internationally.