McMinnville to Walla Walla

We had a lot of trouble deciding on the plan for this leg. There’s a hotel, a winery, (Hogue Cellars), and a restaurant, (The Barn), that we like in Prosser, but it’s a bit of a detour. Likewise, there’s a hotel, a restaurant, (Cafe Melange), and a wine store that we like in Yakima, which is a bit of a detour the other way. We wrestled with the idea of staying in one and visiting the other, but we’re overstocked with Hogue, and the Cafe Melange is closed today, and in the end we decided just to grit our teeth and make the interstate run straight through to Walla Walla.

Not much traffic in Portland at 0930 on a Sunday morning, so we sailed through. It’s not a bad city as cities go, but there are some lanes that merge, some lanes that exit, and some places where you need to change lanes in a limited space, so it’s nice to do it when traffic is light and you can see what’s up ahead. Also, Dingbat earned his keep by calling out the turns in advance.

After Portland, we took a break at a rest stop, and Caroline wondered out loud if Columbia Crest would be anywhere near our route. It’s a longish side-trip from Prosser, so I wouldn’t have thought so, but Dingbat calculated that if we made a route change we could swing by there and only lose ten minutes or so. Turns out he had in mind to get off the interstate and follow the old Columbia River Highway, and this would take us within five miles of the winery. So we enthusiastically embraced this plan for multiple reasons: Columbia Crest has a nice tasting room and a great picnic patio, I’d had enough of interstate driving, and the alternate route would be one we hadn’t traveled before. Pat on the head for Dingbat. We’re letting him speak with an American accent today; maybe it cheered him up. It certainly improved the way he pronounces Washington.

Cleverly arrived at CC at 1230, and the place was quiet. Tasted some of their most affordable wines and some of their reserves and then made some purchases, including a sweatshirt which I promptly put on to sit out on their flagstone patio, because although it’s sheltered from most of the wind, it was still a coolish 17C or so.

Columbia Crest (click on the picture to enlarge)
The patio is just past the stone gateposts.
Had a very nice lunch of potato salad and ham sandwiches on multi-grain. Feeling much refreshed, we headed back to the Columbia River Highway, which actually crosses from the Washington side to the Oregon side before re-entering Washington without recrossing the river. Are you supposed to flash your lights once if by land, twice if by water? Little joke to show I remember some American history. From the state line it’s just a few minutes more to Frenchtown, home of Ecole 41, and then Walla Walla. We’ve got all day tomorrow to visit wineries, so we’ll drop in on Ecole 41, Cougar Crest and Three Rivers for sure; maybe we’ll try to figure out how to get our hands on an Abeja – they do tastings by appointment only, and we can never find any in the stores.

Both of our favourite Walla Walla restaurants are open tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll taxi out for a late dinner at Creektown Cafe tonight, and walk over to TJ Macharone for an earlier meal tomorrow. Stay tuned for details, including dessert. Sorry, Sue, there was no mention of dessert last night because we didn’t have any. I didn’t have any indigestion last night, either. Strange coincidence, or is it because I finally remembered to buy some Pepcid? It would be great if it works without even opening the bottle!

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