Catch the Crush is a fun time of year in the Yakima Valley. One of the largest wine events in the state, it’s a celebration of the harvest season, when the winemakers begin the process of creating their new vintages. This special weekend is a rare opportunity for visitors to the Yakima Valley to assist our local winemakers by helping them crush the grapes so they can turn them into their award-winning wines.
Because there are more than 50 wineries involved hosting events, not to mention the large number of visitors coming to the Yakima Valley for this momentous weekends, a little extra planning can help ensure your Crush weekend experience is fun and satisfying. Here are a few tips to help make the weekend fun for everyone:
- Plan ahead: Plan to stay at least one night and to reserve your lodging well in advance. For a listing of Yakima Valley hotels, B&Bs and inns, click here.
- Be responsible: Gather friends and get a limo or join an organized tour. If you do not hire a professional driver, designate a non-drinking driver. Treat the designated driver like a king or queen by buying their lunch and a bottle or two for them to enjoy at a later time. Note: Even if you have a designated driver, the tasting room staff is not allowed to serve you if you are impaired… it’s the law.
- Get the scoop: Wineries and wine organizations have different offerings and fees (or no fees) during the event. Before you arrive, visit the wine associations for the details on their offerings.
- Get oriented: When you arrive, stop at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center for maps, updates and local trip planning information (address and info listed below).
- Bring your own wine glass: With the crowds expected, the wineries can’t always supply everyone with a glass, so bring one for each person. Some wineries offer glasses for sale.
- Timing is everything: Friday and Sunday during Crush tend to be quieter, so visit on those days if you want to avoid the crowds.
- Do it differently: Go to wineries early and in the opposite direction as everyone else. Many folks start at one end of the Yakima Valley and head to the other so consider starting with wineries in the middle of the Valley. Check our Craft Beverage Map to plan your route.
- Be realistic: It’s not a marathon. Visit no more than five wineries per day. More than that and your taste pallet will grow numb.
- Be prepared: Bring a cooler filled with bottled water and snacks. Pack a picnic, as many of the wineries have picnic grounds, or plan on eating lunch at one of the wineries that serve food. Food helps you to regain your palate and provides it a much-needed break.
- Be patient: Crush Weekend draws a lot of people into town, and staff at the wineries are working as fast as they can to accommodate everyone.
- Be aware: When it is busy in the tasting room, please step up to the bar and receive your taste, then step back and take your time smelling and tasting the wine. This allows others to access the bar to get a taste. In other words, don’t monopolize the bar space in front of others who are trying to participate.
- Don’t wear it: 70 to 80% of our ability to perceive flavor comes from our sense of smell. Please do not wear perfume, cologne, aftershave or any other fragrance, as it interferes with everyone’s ability to smell, and hence taste the wines. You should also refrain from chewing gum and breath mints.
- Spitting and dumping is good: Just because wine is in your glass doesn’t mean you should drink it all. You will enjoy it more if you don’t drink every drop. Your mouth won’t fatigue, you won’t become as intoxicated, and you’ll have more fun. Dumping excess wine into the provided bucket is okay.
- Leave it outside: Consuming alcohol from outside the winery being visited is not permitted. This means beer, wine, mixed drinks, etc. The wineries can actually lose their license if there is alcohol brought on to their properties.
- Have pets? Kids? Children are welcome at the wineries, but the crowds and focus of the event may not be suited to them. And while many wineries are dog friendly, it’s best to leave the pups at home on this busy weekend.
- Buy! Buy! No, that is not a typo, it’s an encouragement to buy wine during the event. The wineries spend a lot of time and money to stage this wonderful weekend, so please show your gratitude by buying their wine. They’ll appreciate the business, and you’ll take home some premium wines, many of which are only available at the winery itself.
Follow these tips and everyone will have a great time during the Yakima Valley Crush Weekend. Enjoy your visit and we’ll see you soon!