If you have primal urges to smell the soil, taste the harvest and mingle with farmers, there’s no better place for a fall harvest trip than the Yakima Valley. That’s because this fertile valley grows the largest variety of produce in the Northwest. Here, locally grown produce stars on restaurant menus, at grocery markets and roadside stands. If you visit in early fall, take in the full spectrum at the Yakima Farmers’ Market (yakimafarmersmarket.org) on Sundays through October.
It’s not just tree fruit and veggies that spring from the soil. The fall wine crush and hop harvest are in full swing as well, headliners for an array of special events.
From late September into early October, many Yakima area wineries host Catch the Crush activities including special tastings, grape stomps, winemaker dinners, vineyard tours and live music. The region’s dry, often-sunny weather adds to the enjoyment of sampling the Yakima Valley’s award-winning wines.
While you’re there, take a trip to the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center (theclorecenter.org) in Prosser. Named for the “Father of Washington Wine,” this unique facility offers educational programs and a menu of seasonal light fare that pairs perfectly with featured wine tastings.
What could be better than wine tasting for a cause? Yakima’s Thanksgiving in Wine Country (winecountrythanksgiving.com) is a multi-day “Taste to Fight Hunger” fund-raiser for Northwest Harvest, Washington’s statewide food bank agency.
Not a wine drinker? Yakima boasts an increasing number of craft breweries, a cider maker and distillery. Attend the 15th annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival (freshhopalefestival.com), or plan your getaway to coincide with the Craft Beverage Walk (craftbeverageyakima.com), where more than a dozen craft beverage producers pour samples at downtown Yakima locations.
Trek to Yakima in October for harvest happenings (visitfarmfreshfun.com). Washington Fruit Place (treeripened.com) holds October Days weekend events offering fresh apple cider, a pumpkin patch, hay maze and hayrides. The gift shop sells fresh fruit along with unusual gift and home décor items, perfect for early holiday shopping.
At Thompson’s Farm (thompsonsfarm.com), enjoy hay rides, see farm animals, buy fresh apples, watch the pumpkin cannon launch its orange projectiles, and select pumpkins and cornstalks for Halloween decorating. Bill’s Berry Farm (billsberryfarm.com) holds its Apple and Pumpkin Festival on weekends from mid-September through October, featuring a corn maze, hayrides, bonfires and hot apple cider.
Round out your farm adventure by touring the Central Washington Agricultural Museum (centralwaagmuseum.org), a 15-acre walk- or drive-through exhibit of historic farm machinery, tools, horse-drawn vehicles and vintage agricultural Americana.
The Yakima Valley Tourism website (visityakima.com) has a wealth of information on fall events and trip ideas.