The Tri-Cities include the cities of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland, all-fast growing cities that retain a small city feel. The area is best known as the home of the Hanford site, located just north of Richland, once a top-secret nuclear lab, and the B Reactor, the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world, which produced the plutonium used in the Nagasaki bombing. The site is now decommissioned, but nuclear-age kitsch in the area is one of the site's more amusing legacies.
From a traveler's perspective, the focus here is on the outdoors -- the area gets very little rain, and the sunny weather is put to use in the area's many golf courses, or out on its waterways, since it sits on the confluence of the Yakima, Snake and Columbia Rivers. And of course, wineries make good use of all that sunshine as well -- while there aren't that many that operate within city limits, there are 160 wineries within a 50 mile radius.
Visiting Wineries in the Tri-Cities areaFull list of Tri-Cities area wineries, searchable by keyword.
- Pasco: Here's where you'll find the first winery in Tri-Cities, Preston Premium Wines , which was established in the early 1970s. It's still family-owned, and it's quite visitor-friendly, with a large tasting room and a pleasant picnic areas on a balcony overlooking the vineyards. You'll want to make this a special destination, as there's just one other winery in Pasco, Gordon Brothers Cellars -- and its tasting room is in far-away Woodinville, near Seattle.
- Richland: This is a very convenient place to visit for wine tasting, as there's a cluster of three wineries in Richland, just west of the Yakima River. They're close enough that you can park at one and walk to the others, while taking in the contrast of the deep green vineyards against the bald mountains and bright blue skies. Barnard Griffin has the smallest of three tasting rooms, although they offer tours of their wine making facility. In comparison, Tagaris , is huge, with a full-service restaurant and event space as well as a wine tasting at the bar. Bookwalter Winery was once the personal residence of winery founders Jean and Jerry Bookwalter, and it's been transformed into a modern-yet-charming wine lounge, where you can do your tasting at a bar, or in a number of other comfy settings. (Pair with artisanal cheese or charcuterie if you're peckish.)
- Kennewick: Of all the three cities, Kennewick is the least developed in terms of wineries and tasting rooms. It's a convenient place to stay, though, so in Southridge Village, visit the tasting studios of the limited-production Anelare Winery (3617 Plaza Way, Suite B), and neighboring AVA Wine Rooms (3617 Plaza Way, Suite A), a wine bar and wine store pouring the state's best wines.
- Red Mountain: About five minutes out of town is the extremely well-regarded Red Mountain AVA. It's a starkly beautiful but barren area that looks like nothing should grow on it at all -- and indeed, nothing did until Kiona Winery first set up shop in 1975 - they had to dig their own well and string their own electric wires. (It's far from that kind of an operation today, its sleek tasting room received Seattle Magazine's nod for the best in the state.) There are more than a dozen wineries here, so you can make a whole day of it, or combine with a trip to Prosser, just about 20 minutes further west on route I-82.