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Although Washington's main winery region lies to the west of the Tri-Cities area, the Walla Walla area has seen a proliferation of wineries in the past decade and has become the state's hottest wine region. The climate and soils are perfect for growing wine grapes, and the emphasis is now on syrah grapes. In fact, because Walla Walla is such an attractive town, this is a far more appealing wine-touring region than the Yakima Valley. In addition to the area wineries listed, there are many other wineries that are only open by appointment or a couple of weekends a year. For more information on area wineries, contact the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, 128 N. Second Ave., Suite 219, Walla Walla, WA 99362 (tel. 509/526-3117; www.wallawallawine.com).

In Downtown Walla Walla

Downtown Walla Walla continues to add more and more wineries and tasting rooms. I've listed my favorites, but others that are open on a regular basis include Ash Hollow, 14 N. Second Ave. (tel. 509/529-7565; www.ashhollow.com); Bergevin Lane Vineyards, 1215 W. Poplar St. (tel. 509/526-4300; www.bergevinlane.com); Forgeron Cellars, 33 W. Birch St. (tel. 509/522-9463; www.forgeroncellars.com); Patit Creek Cellars, 4 S. Fourth Ave. (tel. 509/522-4684; www.patitcreekcellars.com); and Spring Valley Vineyard, 7 S. Fourth Ave. (tel. 509/525-1506; www.springvalleyvineyard.com).

East of Walla Walla

The Walla Walla Airport serves as a sort of incubator for small new wineries. Rents are cheap out here, so new winemakers can afford to go out on their own. Many of these wineries are only open on Saturday afternoon. Among my current favorites are Buty, 535 E. Cessna Ave. (tel. 509/527-0901; www.butywinery.com; open daily 11am-4pm), where winemaker Caleb Foster, who has worked for Woodward Canyon and Chateau Ste. Michelle, produces regional blends; Russell Creek Winery, 301 Aeronica Ave. (tel. 509/386-4401; www.russellcreek-winery.com; open daily 11am-4pm); Syzygy, 405 E. Boeing Ave. (tel. 509/522-0484; www.syzygywines.com; open Sat 11am-4pm); Cougar Crest, 202 A St. (tel. 509/529-5980; www.cougarcrestwinery.com; open Thurs-Sat 11am-4pm and Sun 10am-3pm); Stephenson Cellars, 755 B St. (tel. 509/529-8200; www.stephensoncellars.com; open Sat 11am-5pm); Trio Vintners, 596 Piper Ave. (tel. 509/529-8746; www.triovintners.com; open Sat and Sun 11am-4:30pm); BradenView Cellars, 305 E. Boeing Ave. (tel. 509/529-7264; www.bradenview.com; open Sat 11am-4:30pm).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.