Like many of the best things in life, winemaking began as a hobby for Bob and Flossie Heymann. The operation quickly grew to be much more than they could drink themselves, and when they shared the fruits of their labor with friends, they were repeatedly encouraged to turn the hobby into a business venture. Thus, Heymann Whinery was born. Initially, they focused on fruit wines, but have since expanded to include chardonnay, cabernet, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon. True to their roots, they also stock a variety of home winemaking equipment and accessories.
At the beginning, wine-making was just a hobby for John and his wife; a pursuit limited to making 5-gallon batches in their garage. As their passion for the craft grew, they moved into a cozy, gray-sided barn where grapevines stretched above the door, and soon founded Agate Creek Cellars. Today, John often greets visitors by giving them an impromptu tour of his facilities?from the small demonstration vineyard out back to the rooms where he presses grapes by hand and ages wine in new oak barrels. This process results in seven flavorful wines, which include rich, unfiltered reds and vibrant whites?all crafted from hand-picked eastern Washington grapes. When John and his wife aren't making wines, they're often guiding visitors through a tasting at the polished mahogany bar or using brooms to shoo owls out of the rafters.
For two days each spring and each fall, Chehalis Valley Wine Tour participants can choose their own adventure in the lush Washington valley. The tour has no set route?participants visit at least six wineries, such as Agate Creek Cellars and Scatter Creek Winery, in whichever order they choose. At every one, they sip samples of boutique vintages poured into their passport wineglasses, glassware that also functions as a tour ticket. There are hors d'oeuvres for revelers to nibble on, too, all much tastier than the original winery snack: bacon-wrapped corks.
The unmistakable aromas of Yakima cherries, Greenbluff peaches, and Olympia strawberries perform a delicate parade across palates at Mill Lane Winery. The winery harvests and ferments berries and orchard fruit grown in Washington State, crafting wines that evoke the flavors of freshly picked fruit straight from the fields.
After moving to Tenino from Eastern Washington, Dan and Deana Ferris decided to transform their hobby of home winemaking and their passion for Pacific Northwestern fruit into a business by opening a winery. The entire family pitches in: the children help harvest the fruit each year and Dan and Deana continue to experiment with new winemaking techniques as they hope to capture the pure flavors of everything from locally grown fruits to imported Hawaiian pineapples. These fruits even appear in the winery's traditional, grape-based red and white table wines, each of which honors Dan's 40 years of experience as a basketball referee with names such as Point Guard, In Your Face, and Strawberry Wine, named after Darryl Strawberry Jr.'s Croatian League basketball career.
Although winemaking consumes most of the couple's time and energy, they also operate a smokehouse that allows Dan to continue processing and flavoring wild game.