We are attending the Pre-Conference session of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference. It is a tough and challenging day of tasting fabulous wine and gourmet fare. Here we are in the Yakima wine country at the DuBrul Vineyards, what many think are among the very best vineyards in the state of Washington. The vines are growing on hillside terrain that overlooks the Yakima Valley. The vineyard owners, Hugh and Kathy Shiels, planted these vines in 1992. The Shiels have the label, Cote Bonneville, and after careful selection of grapes for their label sell the rest of the vines by rows to several wineries. Fortunately for us, we were able to sample some of the Cote Bonneville wines at lunch, and they are amazingly delicious. We would never be able to afford these wines at $120 for a beautiful red blend and $50 for a delightful Chardonnay.
We join a vineyard walk led by DuBrul’s vineyard manager Larry Dolan. As we walk, Larry points out that to our right is a Syrah row of vines and to our left is a row of Riesling vines. It is somewhat remarkable that six varietals of grapes grow here and equally produce beautiful wines all within the same climate and soil conditions. As we walk across the rows, we can see down below that a crew of women is working to thin the vines. We move closer as Larry explains that some of the women have been at DuBrul for 15 years. They are well trained and need no directions from Larry. They work quickly in 90-degree heat and with precision cut the shoots that don’t belong to these prized grape vines. We hope these women are paid well; what they do is nothing short of extraordinary.
Now it is off by bus to taste more Yakima wines at the Vintner’s Village in the town of Prosser. Prosser is a unique concept. About 12 wineries have set up shop here within a small area. Visitors can walk to each winery to taste wines and watch wine production in action. At the Milbrandt winery, all the vintners from the Vintner’s Village and other nearby wineries poured samples of their wines. We were particularly impressed by the overall quality of these wines. Our favorites were the Bordeaux blends which most of the wineries seem to produce. The wines are complex and most often smooth wines. In short, the Bordeaux blends of the Yakima Valley are outstanding wines. The day’s events have provided us with an excellent way to experience these wines.