Peter Morrell tastes the wines and hears about the vibrant culinary scene on the American West Coast
You may not know it but if you are an IPA beer drinker in the UK your tipple will have been flavoured with hops grown in the State of Washington, more precisely in the Yakima Valley. Hops like Citra and Simcoe, which give IPAs their distinctive citrus and tropical fruit flavours were developed in the Valley. Now a multitude of craft breweries is open in the area. You can visit the hop yards, sniff the hops, and then taste the beers they have flavoured.
The Yakima Valley, and the rest of Washington State has very fertile land, and consequently a plethora of fresh fruits is grown. Apple production is a major industry which has spawned a lively craft cider industry. When drinking these ciders treat them like wine, they all have unique bouquets, precise flavours on the palate, and a range of finishes.
Cherries, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, prunes, apricots, and other soft fruits abound. As part of a driving tour, you can pick up these orchard fresh products from fruit stalls and farm shops.
One of the largest industries is wine production, the ‘terroir’ of fertile soil and the influence of the north Pacific Ocean are the perfect environment to produce elegant wines, and I have tried two from the region.
The first was a 2020 Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, made in the Columbia Valley by Charles Smith Wines. The bouquet showed good herbaceous, pear, and apple aromas. As it moved to the palate it was slightly off dry with a refreshing effervescent quality. Citrus, melon, and banana flavours came to the fore, and the well-balanced acidity made it an ideal match for summer salads and seafood. The finish was bright and uplifting.
The second wine was a 2019 Chardonnay, 14 Hands, from the winery of the same name, again produced in the Columbia Valley. This had good peach and vanilla aromas on the nose. In the mouth citrus and tropical fruit flavours emerged with subtle oak tastes. The wine had lively acidity with a touch of minerality. The finish was fruity with a light buttery texture. Ideal for pairing with salmon, tuna, and chicken dishes.
If you like your culinary adventures more urban than rural then head to Seattle, and more specifically Pike Place Market, which has been serving Seattle citizens with high quality food and produce for more than a century. It is known locally as the ‘Soul of the City’.
In its nine acres you will find food stalls piled high with all manner of ingredients from the land and the sea, exciting restaurants, and charming boutique shops. In all a foodie heaven.
You will almost certainly want to extend your trip beyond food, and there is a lot to hold your attention. Find out how the airplane that got you to Seattle was built on the fascinating Boeing Factory Tour. Take a bus tour to discover the charms of this city, which sits between the mountains and the sea, and get a grandstand view of Seattle at the top of the Space Needle, this year celebrating its 60th birthday.
The north-west region of the United States is a less visited part of the country by UK travellers but it’s well worth putting on your list, particularly if you are a lover of good quality food and wine.
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