I have some very special Southwestern places in my heart:

  • Hotel Pacific in Monterey, California ~ A place where Jose brought me, when he was trying to sell me on California… What an advantage it gave him.
  • La Posada Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico ~ A place that taught me why Georgia O’Keeffe fell in love with New Mexico and this part of it, especially.
  • And now Desert Wind Winery, overlooking the Yakima River in Prosser, Washington ~ It felt like a second honeymoon, and brought playing cards back into my life… in deference to the boob tube and news I can’t use.

Our Desert Wind Winery stay…

The winery decor is Southwestern inspired, and it’s perched on a bluff overlooking the Yakima River. The facility includes a tasting room and gift shop, a private event facility, a restaurant and demonstration kitchen, and four overnight guest rooms. Their winery is located adjacent to the hospitality center.

For me…. It’s become relatively easy to be known within the California wine industry, because I’ve been providing service to it for the last 19 years. All I have to do is mention PS I Love You, and 95 percent of the Californian wine population know what I’m talking about. When I step outside of this state, though, that recognition quickly fades. Oregon is now catching on a bit, given the Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium that I produce for Oak Knoll Winery

But in Washington, I could have just stepped in from Mars. In some ways, it was very refreshing to go explore Washington state, with no agenda and no relationships.

[Pictured: Left, tasting room attendant), Jose Diaz (far end of the bar), Greg Lint (center of the guys), and Jeff Herinckx (foreground)]

This time, it was the Oak Knoll Boys who led the parade of four engaged travelers… Greg Lint (president), Jeff Herinckx (winemaker), Jose and me.

Greg has a relationship with Desert Wind and Duck Pond Cellars in Oregon. When winemaker Mark Chargin heard that we were headed to Washington, he passed the word along to owner Scott Jenkins. Arrangements were made for us to not only enjoy one of their opulent Southwestern rooms for an overnight stay at their winery, but we were also treated to a very delicious dinner in their restaurant (pictured below).

It was such a divine way to end our trip to Washington, that I realized visiting the Northwest’s wine country in Washington state has just begun. It was the icing on the delectable cake of our adventurous wine journey.

How do I love thee (thanks Elizabeth Barrett Browning), let me count the ways of this destination winery

  1. Their wines reminded me that Washington wines have their own style, terroir, and focus. Their Chardonnay, for example, demonstrated citrus, apple and pear aromas, with lots of minerality. Their wines are very food friendly, and I’m certain that having an adjacent restaurant is no accidental circumstance.  My favorite red was their Sangiovese… It was just varietally correct, and yet spoke “Washington terroir ” to me. (AVA: Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA ~ Vineyard: Sacagawea Vineyard)
    • Sacagawea… now there’s a name I haven’t heard since high school American history.
  2. Mojave Restaurant is located within the winery. It features Southwest-inspired cuisine, with a unique, Northwest twist. Their wine list features not only Desert Wind wines, but it also has a selection of wines produced by their Northwest neighbors. In my humble opinion, there’s no better way to showcase what your wines can be with food than to also offer an immediate food and wine experience to a captive audience.
    • I can’t applaud enough winery owners who have taken it to this next step. Pair the wines with food, and it’s double love…
  3. Overnight in The Jean Baptiste Room~ Pinch me…
    • Are you headed to Columbia Valley? Be sure to wear some turquoise in your hair…
    • Okay, I didn’t wear mine in my hair, but I did wear it on my ears with gorgeous Southwestern earrings. My sister Bonnie gave them to me after our trip together in Santa Fe. (Bonnie is a jewelry buyer, so she gets some very unique pieces. These earrings are a show stopper, and were right at home.)

Their guest rooms have gorgeous linens, a gas kiva fireplace (imagine a bee hive), and a private balcony… Ours overlooked the Yakima River and valley floor. When our breakfast was delivered to our room the following morning with a basket of fresh pastries, lots of fruit, granola, and juice, Jose and I were blown away. We were thinking about where we should look for breakfast, when it miraculously appeared… this gave us more morning time to enjoy our luxuriously romantic room. (Were we on a second honeymoon?)

I can’t describe enough how wonderful a stay at Desert Wind Winery is, but I will finish with this final thought… The owners of Desert Wind have tied all of the pieces of wine, food, and hospitality into a neat little bow. Nothing… I mean nothing… was left to chance. Every base was covered when they created this one, and have really delivered an out-of-the-park home run. If you’re headed to Washington’s wine country, you really need to stop by and experience this one for yourself… for the wines, the food, and if you can… an overnight in their oasis paradise.


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