skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Wednesday, 10 May
The morning after our initial introduction to Yakima, we got to experience what must be the most pleasing feature of that fine city: driving out of it. We were on our merry way-ish to a region known as Rattlesnake Hills, home to approximately a choadillion wineries. Rattlesnake Hills also has the distinction of being near the Washington town of Zillah, perhaps the only US city named for a Gashlycrumb Tiny, so how awesome is that?
After a brief freeway drive, we were there! Lost! On a road lined with yards populated by mangy dogs! Where the fuck are the wineries! Oh my God! Are those banjos I hear? We turned around, and a mere twenty minutes, we were there! This time, at a winery--Hyatt. We walked in to find an utterly empty tasting room, which boded well, since, you know, fuck other people. The gal behind the counter greeted us: "On your way to Walla Walla?" Ominous. Not a question you want to hear as any conversational opener--it made me jittery. "FUCK ONIONS!" I yelped. She stared at me for a moment and then explained that there was some big fucking wine hoedown going on that weekend in Walla Walla.
Good news! Less people = Skot happier. We dug into the offered wines. While we swilled, we were joined by another couple, who, in the time we had moved from wine #2 to wine #4, managed to rack up a $534 order. This, of course, made me feel like shit. By the time we had completed the tasting, they had whisked out of there with a couple cases of grape along with some fancy stuffed olives. This all made me feel, of course, like a tool. We meekly bought a measly three bottles of wine and some of the damn olives, because HEY WE CAN BUY ANCILLARY CRAP TOO. (As it turns out, they're olives stuffed with hot peppers, and boy are they good.)
We made our way from Hyatt to Two Mountain, which featured a lazing dog in front of a tin building. This was great. Lazy dog raised its head at us briefly when we cooed at it, and then rested back again, totally unimpressed. Two Mountain featured an extremely loquacious gal given to telling us stories about how "this is a pizza wine!" and getting drunk in Seattle and spending the night at someone's house and doing the "walk of shame" back to her car--but without the sex! Well, she was a nice gal, but her stories could have used more sex. She also told us the story of the lazy dog, named Gus, who, heartbreakingly, and legbreakingly, had a broken leg from being hit by a car, but was on the mend. This was again sort of puzzling, since Gus was very clearly a female dog, unless he had grown six tiny mutant penises on his belly, but we left the whole thing unchallenged, because, oh for God's sake, let's buy a couple bottles of wine.
Next! Probably our favorite: Paradisos del Sol. Upon leaving our car and walking to the tasting room (which was a kitchen in a ranchhouse), we were assaulted by a silent tiny white dog trailing a couple of weird, apparently flightless grey birds. The dog sniffed at our ankles and the birds gabbled around aimlessly, pecking at shit on the ground. We also heard the unmistakable cries of roosters from a barn somewhere. "I see you've met Snudley!" Or whatever the dog's name was--I couldn't hear her, the woman who called to us from the veranda. "Yeah!" I said. "Now you have to tell us what these birds are!" "They're baby turkeys," she replied, "future Thanksgiving dinners." she continued flatly. Then without another word, she disappeared into a door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY. Good to meet you, misanthropic bird-killin' lady.
We went into another door, which led into the kitchen-tastery-whateveroom, where a tiny bespectacled woman lurked. "CHALLO!" she screamed. "I am Bulgarian. Will you have twenty minutes? I tell you everything, I teach you." Good Lord. Don't argue with the Eastern Europeans, or they'll pluck out your tongue. We let Greta, or whatever, give us the full business about all things wine. She brooked no demurrals at all--hers was the only tasting where there was food accompaniment, to better demonstrate how wine works with a full palate. At one point, she brought out some crab-artichoke dip and all but pried open my jaws to make me eat it. Later, out came something she called "Glop"--a blue cheese and garlic dip. EAT!
She was really fucking great, actually. Halfway through, another young couple showed up. She tore into her spiel with them, of course, and the guy tried to beg off the whites: "I don't really like sweet wines." Greta tartly shot back, "You try them all. You do not like, you spit." She fixed him with a withering Bela Karolyi stare, and the guy slumped like overcooked asparagus. I silently guffawed and ate more Glop. "ZO!" She returned to us. "You see the color of the wine? How do you say?" We nervously held our glasses up to the sunlight. "Amber?" I ventured. "You see!" she beamed. "It is yes." I felt like Kerri Strug.
I loved Paradisos del Sol, and so I was that more grateful for not running over little Snudley when we left the parking lot, which I nearly did, since the little fucker was sniffing at our tires at the time. That would have sucked. The baby turkeys, not so much, I guess, since I could have just marched up to the chilling porch-woman with the carcass and declared, "Thanksgiving comes in May this year!"
Next up was Horizon's Edge, manned by a very, very enigmatic fellow named . . . well, I cannot recall if we ever caught his name. He poured indiscriminately, often not telling us what we were drinking, and then gently mocking our confusion. "Is this the merlot?" I would ask. "What--did you think it was the rose?" "I--I think I'm getting palate fatigue," I said lamely. He stared at me like a carny stares at a mark. "Of course you are." Moments later, he abruptly asked, "So, which of you is wearing perfume?" The wife shot me a look, like, I hope it's me. "I'm embarrassed to say I'm wearing White Diamonds," said the wife. That was news to me. "It was a gift," she concluded lamely. "Well, as long as you can't smell it," the guy said mildly. "I can't smell it," I offered in weak defense. He broadened his grin. "Even better." We stood there awkwardly for a moment. "That's a professional's nose for you," I said witlessly. He continued to lazily smile, and then poured us some more wine. What a freak, I thought. That's probably why we punished him so harshly by buying three bottles of wine.
Portteus Vineyards was another tin-building affair, with an extraordinarily affable fellow who told us stories about how he met his wife of twenty-plus years at his old college chess-and-pot-smoking club, which, really, that's kind of awesome. We also had a lengthy discussion about prostate cancer clinical trials, which was fairly weird, but he seemed to take a shine to us at the same time, and cheerfully opened up a bottle of Malbec for us that wasn't on the regular tasting menu, but hey! If you can't share some nice oddball-variant grape with your new cancer-and-pot chums, where are you anyway? There was no way, of course, that we could not buy a bottle of the Malbec after he opened one up for us, which we did happily, since it was great, and then we bought a couple of other bottles as well. The case box in our car was pretty much full up.
So it was back to Yakima. Back to the Lotus Room. Our waitress from the previous night came over just to say hi. We ordered some more ridiculously alcoholic drinks. I've written some sucky things about Yakima. But it's suckier to be back home.
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My favorite sentence here was: "I felt like Kerri Strug."
That Horizon's Edge paragraph made me really edgy for some reason, Skot. Impotently and mildly enraged. What an odd reaction. I think I hate that guy.
I think I'm gonna let it go, and think about Greta.
The blue cheese and garlic dip at paradisos del sol truly is awesome. I think Lorri grabbed a recipe card but we never got around to making it ourselves.
How random that I'm a reader of your blog from down here in Los Angeles - yet my entire family lives in Walla Walla, WA. It made me chuckle to read your mention of it, as I didn't know anyone on the face of the planet had ever heard of that town besides the poor bastards who actually live there!
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