Washington post #2
I'd never heard of Yakima WA until I had to plan three days' travel from Prineville OR to Vancouver BC via Washington's wine country, which was a challenge even before my friend lobbed in the idea of looking at Mount St Helens en route. We'd learned during our previous American road trip, in 2016, how easy it is to over-estimate the distance you can cover in a day in a big country. Or we thought we had.
Yakima WA is apple capital. It's also big on hops: the Yakima Valley has about three-quarters of the total US hop acreage. We were staying right in the middle of them.
Birchfield Manor was out of town a bit and clung to pretensions of grandeur. But our room was poky and old-fashioned, with a mish-mash of furniture and no kettle for tea making. I should have been used to that by this stage in the journey, but I wasn't. Not everyone in the world starts their day with coffee, America.
If you ever go to Yakima make sure you eat at Cowiche Canyon Kitchen (202 East Yakima Avenue). The burgers were excellent, the staff friendly and the vibe great. Also worth a visit is North Town Coffeehouse. It has loads of space – and a sun room – with sofas and easy chairs where you can chill with a book or a newspaper and no one urging you to consume more or move on. Some of the clientele were conducting business meetings loudly, but briefly thankfully.
We wandered around town a bit…
The imposing building above, slap bang in the middle of town, is the Yakima County Department of Corrections.
A hot and bright sunny day was good for visiting the Arboretum & Botanical Garden, which had the advantage of being close to the fast-flowing Yakima River.
But we were here for the wines. We opted for Owen Roe, nestling at the far northwestern tip of the Rattlesnake Hills. The wine industry is increasingly important in Yakima's economy, the river valley soils being similar to those prized in French wine regions. There are more than 50 wineries in the Yakima Valley. The fruit (top of page) ripens slowly and fully, resulting in good acidity and balance. Owen Roe's first vintage in Yakima was in 1999: they also have vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
My friend sipped Chardonnay on the terrace and I, being driver, zoomed in across the Valley. I don't really understand the geography of the image below, but inevitably a volcano got in on the act. Talking of which…