Many people have never heard of Prosser, Washington – to be honest neither had I until a few years ago. The small town of Prosser is situated along the Yakima river in southeast Washington. It’s about a four-hour drive from either Portland or Seattle.
The town of Prosser is typical of many small towns – schools, churches, parks, and a saloon or two all fall within walking distance of each other. Prosser’s population is currently around 5,900, but for many events it doubles. Why? Wine.
Prosser has long been a farming community with the Horse Heaven Hills as a scenic backdrop. Over the years grape growing has become a way of life, and wine tasting and tourism is really beginning to boom.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited on a writer’s media tour to learn more about the area and the wines that they produce.
Where to stay:
In Prosser itself there are a handful of places that you can stay. Our group stayed at the 7 Gables Pensione and a beautiful VBRO that was in walking distance to many tasting rooms. There is also a Best Western and a local hotel. If you want to go for a bite of a drive up to the Alexandria Nicole Vineyards (about a 45 minute trip) there are four tiny houses that you can rent that are situated in the middle of the vineyard.
Places to taste:
There are many tasting rooms in Prosser. Downtown there are two options for tasting: Bills – a swanky tasting room decked out with 1940’s rat pack decor – complete with a small retro game room. Then there is Bacchas Tasting Room and Interiors , an adorable small tasting room and gift shop.
Just outside of the downtown area the options grow wider – in a newer developement named Vintner’s Village. There are over 12 tasting rooms that call Vintner’s Village home. I stopped by Milbrandt Vineyards, Gamache Vinters, Martinez & Martinez, and the Wine O’ Clock Wine Bar. Each place had a good variety of wines to sample an enjoy and all have a wonderful story waiting to be shared. If you are looking for smaller wineries with really good wines that you can’t find in many stores I would definitely check them out and buy a case (or two!) to bring home with you.
Another place I visited was 14 Hands Winery. I have always enjoyed their wines as they oner some great options that are also affordable for entertaining. Their tasting room is simply beautiful, with artwork incorporating reclaimed wood from old local farms in the area.
Chinook Wines is a quaint little winery and tasting room that’s only a couple of minutes drive from downtown Prosser. I visited the vineyard and tasting room and met with the co-owner / winemaker Kay Simon. Along with her husband Clay Mackey they have been operating for over 30 years. Our group of writers were invited to lunch there, where Kay hosted us with an amazing farm to fork meal, complete with fresh-baked homemade bread. Chinook Wines will most certainly give you that small town experience.
DavenLore Winery has a small no-frills tasting room on site, but the location and view along with the wines are what make it special. The winemaker/co-owner Gordon is a fun and approachable down to earth guy who is passionate about what he does.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars is another good stop – their award-winning wines are amazing. They have a beautiful tasting room in Prosser (don’t let the outside fool you!) which I visited, but they also have a tasting room at their vineyard (about 45 minutes from Prosser that I hear is stunning!)
Wit Cellars is located right next to the Alexadria Nicole Cellars tasting room in Prosser. Every wonderful bottle of wine at Wit Cellars has a bit of wit inspiration for you. Three friends created Wit Cellars, and winemaker Cat Warwick not only pours wine, but helps out at fellow Prosser establishment Wine O’ Clock Wine Bar as well. Just one more reason why I love small towns.
There are many other tasting rooms around to explore as well that I personally haven’t had a chance to visit at.
There are a few dining options in Prosser. Two places I would visit is the Horse Heaven Saloon for some local casual food and beer, and the Wine O’ Clock Wine Bar for a nice sit down dinner. We ate lunch at the Wine O’ Clock Wine Bar and I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ate, plus their wine pairings were perfect. It has an open kitchen concept that is fun to watch and it is family friendly.
Other sights to see:
If you are really wanting to experience small town Prosser, stop by the local historical museum and learn a bit of the area history. Don’t feel shy to ask questions because the museum’s curator Alys is a delightful woman who is very knowledgable about Prosser. We had to ask her about an opium bar story we had heard about and she promptly brought out an opium pipe and we all sat down in a circle sipping on coffee and listened to her as she told a lively story behind the pipe while holding it in her hands. 🙂
The Horse Heaven Hills Brewery is where the Horse Heaven Saloon originated. If you really want to fee like a local, check out this tiny brewery located in the alley behind the saloon.
What I enjoyed more than anything about Prosser were the stories and people. Drum up a conversation with the locals while you are there and learn their story and the history too – while sipping on some memorable wines of course.
Have you ever been to Prosser before?