The following post was written by Carrie Simon. Simon is the founder of Washington Wine 9, a custom trip planning service for travelers to Washington State’s wine country.
Indeed, more often than not it is hands, not feet, involved in harvest. Often when grapes are harvested they are +/-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Stomping them will freeze your toes in no time! Yet even visitors who want to experience harvest hardware – de-stemmers, crushers, fermenting tanks and more – have one big challenge to overcome: no one knows when harvest will arrive until the moment it does! In other words, there tends to be a lot of waiting around, especially in years like this when harvest is later than usual; only Mother Nature knows when exactly harvest will begin.
If you are looking to head to eastern Washington to see or take part in harvest, keep an eye out for upcoming harvest reports to figure out when you might want to go. If, however, you prefer to plan ahead, there are plenty of scheduled harvest-related activities – and others unrelated – in the coming months to make your trip worthwhile. Here are a few favorites:
Catch the Crush, Sept. 24-25: Yakima Valley wineries invite all to enjoy harvest activities (including stomping, if you’re brave enough to try!), sip wine and snack along the way during this weekend celebration.
Walla Walla Crush, Oct. 8: a 1 mile run/walk through south side vineyards to raise money for the Blue Mountain Land Trust.
Marilyn: Forever Blonde at the Power House Theater, Oct. 15-30: the Power House Theater is a brand new venue in Walla Walla, housed in a renovated 19th century brick building (Walla Walla’s original power house). This first class traveling performance will grace the stage for just two weeks!
Tri-Cities Wine Festival, Nov 4-5: this festival, now in its 33rd year, is the longest continually running judged wine festival in the Northwest
Fall Release, Nov. 4-6: many Walla Walla wineries will release their new vintages this weekend. It is a festive time to be in town – and requires planning ahead!
So when does the wine tourism season end? Much like harvest, no one knows exactly when the high season ends – until it ends. Snow on Snoqualmie Pass and/or in Eastern Washington signify the beginning of the quiet season in wine country. Many harvest-exhausted winemakers, for one, leave town. But they come back! For those who are comfortable in command of a 4-wheel drive, wine country in the winter can be blissful and beautiful (and less expensive, thanks to winter rates at all lodging facilities). The only question to know the answer to is, when do you want to go?
Note: Washington Wine 9 will gladly create a unique, hands-on harvest experience for you. If you are interested, please contact Carrie Simon: [email protected].