It is an unprecedented time around the world and trying times lie ahead for numerous industries, including the wine and tourism businesses. With travel at a halt and social distancing in place, travel itineraries may seem futile, but this crisis will eventually pass. In the meantime, we can travel virtually, plan ahead, and in many cases, even travel via the glass. So, before the close of Washington Wine Month and Women’s History Month comes to an end, let’s explore a few female-centric Washington wineries through this virtual itinerary. Whether you’re looking to plan a future trip or wanting to support some family-owned wineries through online ordering or local pick-up, the wineries highlighted here will showcase the beauty found in Washington’s Columbia Valley.

Background on Washington’s Columbia Valley

Washington State is the nation’s second-largest wine producer with more than 55,000 acres of wine grape producing vineyards, over 940 wineries and 14 AVA’s producing roughly 17.1 million cases of wine each year. Among the AVAs is Columbia Valley, the largest wine region in the state of Washington, encompassing 40,000 acres of vineyards. The Columbia Valley AVA includes 99% of the total vineyard area planted in the state of Washington. The AVA is ideal for growing grapes with its warm sunny days and cool nights. In fact, the region typically averages an hour more sun per day during the grape growing season than California and only up to nine inches of rain per year. These ideal weather conditions combined with Columbia Valley’s unique soils and elevations provide the foundation for developing award-winning aromas and flavors in the ripening grapes.

Prosser and Tri-City Area Wineries

WIT Cellars

Wit Cellars was started by three friends, each of them with extensive experience in the wine industry, Cat Warwick, Flint Nelson and Gina Adams-Royer. Flint and Cat are the winemakers and Gina oversees the tasting room, wine club and marketing. The WIT philosophy is simple: start with the best raw materials, collect grapes from the best growers on the best vineyards, down to even the best slopes and from there use only 100% French oak and ensure everything that goes into a bottle is great – even if it means giving away product they are not completely satisfied with. As for the grapes, they are selected from Ancient Lakes, Wahluke Slope, Painted Hills, Olsen Vineyards, and throughout Yakima Valley. Each farmer is a trusted grower and a friend.

*WIT Cellars is currently offering limited hours for pick-up and bottle purchases. Locals can donate Covid-19 supplies (sanitizer, hand soap, etc.) to be donated locally to those in need including shelters, senior homes, etc. and receive a 10% discount.

Click here to order WIT Cellars Wine. Or to read more about our visit to WIT Cellars, click here.

Barnard Griffin

Rob Griffin and his wife, Deborah Barnard, established Barnard Griffin Winery in 1983 with a small truckload of borrowed fruit and a rented cellar. Today it is one of Washington’s premier wineries. Rob and Deborah built the current winery facility, which houses their production facility, tasting room, full-service restaurant and fused glass art studio, in Richland, Washington in 1996. Joining her father in the tasting room is Megan Hughes, the Assistant Winemaker and Enologist for Barnard Griffin. Megan joined her parents in the family business after graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology from Washington State University.

*Barnard Griffin is open to pick up wine to-go. They are also offering curbside, trunk service – place your order in advance, call when you arrive and pop your trunk! The Barnard Griffin full-service restaurant is also offering a daily menu with to-go meals available for pick-up. Wine pairings are also available with to-go meals for 20% off.

Click here to order Barnard Griffin wines.

Purple Star

In 2008, Kyle and Amy Johnson started a winery in the Red Mountain area of Columbia Valley with the goal of making wine accessible, approachable, and affordable. Purple Star’s varietal blends are grown from some of Washington State’s finest appellations including Wahluke Slope, Yakima Valley and Red Mountain. The winery also has a long-held commitment of paying it forward and donates 15% of sales to the Seattle Children’s Hospital to benefit uncompensated care.

*Purple Star is currently offering one-cent shipping on any six bottles or more. Open for regular hours, they are also offering curbside pick-up when you call ahead to place your wine order and local delivery. Make sure to check out their virtual tastings too.

Click here to order Purple Star wines.

Anelare Winery

Anelare was founded by Kahryn Campbell and is managed by Kim Gravenslund. The business began and continues with family and a passion for the community. Anelare sources its grapes through several long-term relationships with some of the most notable vineyards in the state including Ciel du Cheval Vineyards, Gamache and Sagemoor. The wines at Anelare are crafted by Charlie Hoppes, an acclaimed Columbia Valley vintner named Winemaker of the Year in 2013, by Seattle Magazine’s Washington Wine Awards. 

*Wine is currently available for local pick-up and delivery as well as shipping.

Click here to order Anelare wines.

Frichette Winery

Frichette Winery is a family-owned limited production winery begun by Shae and Greg Frichette. They opened their tasting room on Red Mountain in 2013 with their first vintage of only 650 cases. Today, they produce 1,400 cases of wines including mostly dry reds sourced from the Red Mountain AVA. Frichette Winery features a cozy tasting room, a wine club lounge and special events space with expansive views of Washington’s Red Mountain AVA.

*Curbside pick-up and shipping are available and like Anelare and Purple Star, Frichtette will be hosting virtual happy hours found here.

Click here to purchase Frechette wines.

Goose Ridge Winery

*Additional tasting rooms in Woodinville, Leavenworth and Walla Walla

In the early 1900s, M.L. Monson brought his family to the Yakima Valley to build a family farming business originally focused on orchards and cattle. Today, Goose Ridge is run by M.L. Monson’s grandchildren Bill, Molly and Valerie operating the largest contiguous estate vineyard in Washington State with more than 2,000 acres of estate vineyards. In addition to the 40,000 cases produced annually under its own brands, Goose Ridge also helps produce and vinify wines for well-known Northwest wineries such as Chateau Ste. Michelle, Precept Brands and Charles Smith.

*Goose Ridge’s Richland and Woodinville locations are open for local pick-up and one-cent shipping is available on orders of $200 or more.

Click here to purchase Goose Ridge wines and ciders.

Travel Logistics

When traveling to the region, we recommend flying into the Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) in Pasco, Washington. The airport is small and easy to manage with numerous connecting flights from major western hubs. Car rental is also extremely efficient with many operators available directly at the airport. Each of the wineries mentioned above are accessible via short drives from the Tri-Cities region – not to mention there are many spectacular views and sights along the way – but as always, hiring a driver or designating a sober driver is highly encouraged.

For hotels, Winetraveler recommends The Lodge at Columbia Point for a luxurious stay in wine country. Located on the riverfront, The Lodge is the area’s only 4-Star property. The hotel and rooms boast stunning water views, an on-site wine tasting room and craft cocktail bar, pool and in-room soaking tubs as well as a full menu of services to make your stay as comfortable and welcoming as possible.

Washington State’s Columbia Valley is inviting with a sense of communal cooperation that seems to span all 940 wineries and 14 AVAs. Visitors to this western US wine region will be welcomed with family-style hospitality and treated to a wide array of stunning, high-quality wines. And for those not yet planning a trip, or looking to virtually revisit the area, many Washington wines are also available for shipping throughout the States for a taste of this terroir and its passionate winemakers closer to home. Either way, as fans of this region, its people and the wines, we suggest discovering it as soon as possible.


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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Thanks for this great list of ideas and for the general overview of WA State and the Columbia Valley AVA. There’s clearly so much to taste and I’m looking forward to coming down from British Columbia when we can hit the roads again. There seem to be a lot of similarities with our Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, so it’ll be cool to see and taste the terroir there first hand! Santé.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristy Wenz is a wine and travel communications professional and writer currently pursuing her WSET Level 4 Diploma. She has explored wineries in more than 25 States and throughout Canada and Europe. In addition to writing, Kristy is a communications specialist and wine consultant. She assists with corporate and private wine events, and also works part-time at Hickory Creek Winery in Michigan.

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