Wild about Wine: 10 Irresistible Mini Escapes, from a Rugged Washington Valley All the Way Down to the Mexican Border. Got a Glass?

Sunset, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Wild about Wine: 10 Irresistible Mini Escapes, from a Rugged Washington Valley All the Way Down to the Mexican Border. Got a Glass?


YAKIMA VALLEY, WA

(1.) Light out for the Wild West

Mix wine and equine at Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast, and Barn, where horseback tours take you through Washington's sunny Rattlesnake Hills AVA. As you taste your way through smaller producers like Agate Field Vineyard, Sheridan Vineyard, and Wineglass Cellars, you'll learn that Yakima's wine region isn't just up-and-coming--it's here. Info: Horseback tours $150; cherrywoodbandb.com or 509/829-3500. Thanksgiving wine to take home: Wineglass Cellars' Les Vignes de Marcoux Syrah ($35). Bonus tip: For a true taste of winter in the chilly Wild West, bundle up and stay the night in one of Cherry Wood's well-appointed but unheated tipis ($145, including breakfast; contact info above). Don't pass up the apple or cherry turnovers if they're served for breakfast. And bring plenty of extra fleece.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

--JESS THOMSON

2 WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OR

Join the party

Music, food, otherwise unavailable wines, and a convivial (but crowded) atmosphere are what you'll find at the Willamette Valley's Wine Country Thanksgiving open houses, when wineries welcome the masses. Info: Nov 28-30; visit willamette wines.com for a list of participating wineries and fees. Thanksgiving wine to take home: Chehalem Reserve Dry Riesling ($27). Bonus tip: Hate crowds? Go earlier in the month and hit Winderlea Vineyard & Winery (call for hours; $5 tasting fee; winder lea.com or 503/554-5900), which floats over some of the valley's oldest vines; cozy Lange Estate Winery ($5 tasting fee; langewinery.com or 503/538-6476), where you can sip singer-songwriter Don Lange and son Jesse's wines in a new tasting building; and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars (call for hours; $5 tasting fee; pennerash.com or 503/554-5545), which has views to Mt Hood on clear days.

--SARA SCHNEIDER

3 WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Be merry in the mountains

Heady mountain air and interesting wines from around the world are an intoxicating pairing at Cornucopia, Whistler's annual celebration of wine and food. Choose from more than 50 events, from a chef-guided tour of a farm to an unforgettable meal at well-cellared Araxi restaurant. Bring your boots: Whistler Village is pedestrian -friendly and everything's within walking distance, whether you're headed to one of the fest's sparkling parties or for a stroll around tranquil Lost Lake to drink in views of frosted mountain peaks. Info: Nov 6-10 event prices vary; whistlercornucopia.com Thanksgiving wine to take home: Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewurztraminer ($14 U.S.). -DEANA LANCASTER

4 SANTA FE

Be a curious epicurean

At the Santa Fe School of Cooking--the best cooking school in a town where food rules--you could spend a day learning to make sweet anise-seed tamales (Tamales: Nov 14; $98), red chile mole (Cuisines of Mexico I: Nov 8; $74), or blue-corn gnocchi arrowheads with guajillo chile sauce (Native American: Nov 7; $80). Or, leave the cooking for Thanksgiving Day and opt instead for Wines of New Mexico (Nov 1; $42). Where else would you learn that Spanish friars were growing grapes along the Rio Grande nine years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock? Culinary director Rocky Durham, who often teaches the wine class himself, combs wineries from Dixon to Deming in search of wines to highlight in this 90-minute session. You'll sample a bubbly, two whites, and two reds from wineries ranging from the well known (Gruet) to obscure (La Vina), punctuated with lively commentary and pairings with local foods like duck tamales. Info: $42 per person; santafeschoolofcooking.com or 505/983-4511. Thanksgiving wine to take home: Gruet Blanc de Noirs bubbly ($14). -JANINE SIEJA

5 BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO

Explore south of the border

Think of it as Baja beyond fish tacos. There's some excellent wine now too, as producers experiment with lesser-known grape varietals such as Tempranillo. …

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