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Down From the Hills

Our intrepid band of boozers returned from the snows and chills of Yakima safely, if slightly worn. We drank about thirty vintages at five vineyards: Hogue (good but very corporate), Tucker (bleah), Ponti del Roza (great!), Silverlake (surprisingly empty and desolate in winter), and Bonair (better mead than wine). We bought some pinot grigio and some fine reds, plus some mead and a bunch of spiced hard cider. Our alcohol needs are covered for the winter.

Given that all wine turns into a blur after the 10th tasting, I think the winemakers themselves made the greatest impression. Bonair were semi-Wiccan, back-to-the-land hippies who did it all themselves — and somehow their marriage survived the process. The white-haired woman at Ponti put on a brave face on things although they were clearly suffering from the year's glut of grapes, with too much unsold and left on the vine. Talking with the corporate minions was not nearly as interesting (though the wines were often better), and if I were to tour again I might skip Hogue and Silverlake entirely.

Culturally, the region is oddly divided, as the "Cowboys & Cabernets" slogan at the Yakima visitor's Bureau made clear. How all the fine vintners put up with the "US out of the UN" nutjobs that seem to infest the region is beyond me. The region is also clearly more Hispanic than the western side of the Cascades; we heard and saw Spanish constantly.

On Sunday we woke up to snow, glorious snow! About an inch fell, and we worried (needlessly) about the passes. On our way home, we stopped at the Yakama Reservation, where they serve a buffet and offer a decent small-town sort of museum, with the emphasis on tribal and local history. The most impressive item was the copy of the treaty they signed with the US Government in 1855. They seem to have kept the land that the treaty gave them, surprisingly enough.

Oh, and I submitted my pitch for the short story anthology, a twist on a traditional changling yarn. We'll see if the editor likes it. I should know by Friday.

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