Grapes were being stomped. Pumpkins were being carved. Wine was being tasted, then bought, then drunk, practically by the bottle. Kids were running around grassy lawns trying to pry the candy from caramel apples off of their teeth. Chefs were barbecuing chicken and steak. A guy named Jeff ran tractor-driven hayrides into the orchards to pick enormous Red Delicious apples, which we ate fresh off the trees.
This was just last weekend at the annual Harvest Festival at the Cave B Winery and Inn near tiny Quincy, in the middle of Washington state.
Located on rugged, eroded cliffs overlooking the Columbia River canyon, Cave B describes itself by two words that I find irresistible in combination: Destination Winery.
The winery part is presided over by winemaker Rusty Figgins, who is now growing over a dozen varieties of grapes on the estate and blends their juices to make first-rate merlots, cabs and sauvignon blancs. How is this year's vintage shaping up? "Best in a decade," said Rusty before going off to lead a discussion of winemaking techniques and fermentation.
The Harvest Festival swirled around the winery as Rusty's crew pressed grapes that were coming off the vines, the juice sluicing through hoses to stainless-steel vats. Outside the door of my cabin were bright purple bunches of grapes growing on long rows, which is a sight that always makes my heart jump. Anyone who loves wine and nature should visit a winery in the fall. Better yet, a Destination Winery like Cave B.
Where will you go this fall to celebrate the harvest? Send us a few tips on great places to experience the season in your area.