Description - As you cross the mountains from the west on your way to Wine Country, you emerge from the forest into the naked sun and dry, rippling hills of the Yakima Valley. Stretched out ahead, the Saddle Mountains wear little foliage and the bones of the earth are suddenly visible. The Yakima River cuts through arid Umtanum Ridge lined with gray-green shrubs that hug the dusty skin of the Earth. This is the home of the Yakima Nation whose cultural center welcomes you. A neighboring town even recreates the Old West in murals, some painted in a single day before your eyes. And tucked amid the rolling steppes of this high desert, grow some of the world's most prized fruit and vegetables.
- Despite the reliable sun, snow melt from the mountains and irrigation from the Columbia River
quench the thirst of renowned orchards and vineyards. It's pretty much common knowledge
that Washington is the world leader in apple production. But few people are aware that the
Yakima Valley also produces 75 percent of the hops grown in the U.S. Or that this same area is
becoming famous for the asparagus, peppers, chiles and specialty foods found at roadside stands and farmers markets. In recent years, the wines of the Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley have become revered internationally, rivaling and even surpassing many of the best California and French wines. Raised in the rich volcanic soil and sharing the same latitude as Bordeaux, France, the wines of Washington win more awards proportional to production than any other wine region in the world. While this region of the state is justifiably famous for its vineyards and wineries, there are equally excellent vineyards and wineries in the Puget Sound and other areas of eastern Washington.
Recreation - Recreational opportunities abound in the Wine Country region. Visitors can raft in the cool waters of a sun-parched river canyon, hike amid the legends of Indian heroes or watch rare waterfowl
savor the last wild stretch of the Columbia River. Or visitors can climb a sand dune and peer out over an oasis of orchards and vineyards, hops and vegetables.
Climate - Washington's climate varies with each region. The Cascades split the state and alter weather patterns. The terrain east of the mountains receives significantly less rainfall than that west of the mountains, 12 inches is the annual average. Temperatures in this region are lower during the winter months, because it is landlocked. Frequent winds coming down from the mountains also contribute to the low temperatures of eastern Washington.
Western Washington is temperate, due to the coastal geography. The water is a stabilizing force for the climate, making extreme temperatures rare. The area receives large amounts of rainfall from Pacific storms and some snow during winter months.
The mountains of Washington receive large amounts of water-laden snow from October through May. These peaks remain snow covered throughout the year.
The Wine Country region is located along the Columbia River in southern Washington. The region can be accessed via I-82 and Hwy. 395.