So here’s the thing about driving to eastern Washington: It never takes me as long as I think it will to get there, and I always find surprises. My last trip was over Valentine’s Day weekend and it was no exception. While I’ve traveled to and through the area many times, I’ve never done much more than just pass through Wenatchee. I loaded up my Bluebaru with weekend accouterments and my manchild and found myself in there in less than three hours.
It ends up that the Wenatchee Valley has a wine commission – a group of like-minded vintners with a common marketing arm. Fortunately for us, the weekend we chose to visit was apparently their “Red Wine and Chocolate” weekend (meaning that there were 18 different locations throughout the valley where we could sip, snack and swirl! And the best part? A portion of the ticket price was donated to support the Apple Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross!
My tasting adventure began at Martin-Scott Winery – high on a bluff overlooking the gorgeous Columbia River and the city of Wenatchee. Hosts/winemarkers Mike and Judi are passionate ambassadors and gleefully gave us a tour of their facility and a run-down of their wines. Along with an array of bold reds and bright whites, their chocolate-offering of truffles from Liberty Orchards (of Aplets and Cotlets fame) were delightful!
My day progressed with sipping in the Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce’s own tasting room downtown. Along with sage tourist advice, their visitor center pours local wines! Wines from 37 Cellars, Horan Estates and Ryan Patrick Vineyards held muster to those more frequently noted in the Seattle area, and readied me for a paired wine dinner at Chateau Faire le Pont Winery and restaurant. Not only was I struck by the quality of wines produced in this area, but of the specific stories associated with each. These stories added a new element to the nose and color of every glass I swirled.
Dinner at the Chateau was no exception. Each course was expertly paired, and while it wasn’t clear who the master of these pairings were, I’m going to assume they hide a genius sommelier somewhere under their roof. With a full belly and sated palate, I waddled back to my hotel and drifted off with visions of my next day’s plan: skiing for the first time in 20+ years!
The morning was beautiful, but filled with trepidation: Would muscle-memory serve me after my long skiing drought? Or would I sit in the snow with the ranks of clumsy, ice-covered newbies? My worries faded quickly and what became clear immediately upon entering the parking lot at Mission Ridge was that regardless of my skiing ability (or lack thereof), the views down onto the Columbia River Valley and of snow covered mountains made the trip up worth my while.
The helpful crew at the rental desk was supportive, understanding, and an absolute trove of information. Apparently during my skiing hiatus, the world of skiing has changed to edgeless, curvy and (thankfully) short skis! Not only would these make the learning process easier for the newest of folks on the slopes, but I could tell they’d be my saving grace. With skis and poles in hand, and unforgiving boots buckled to my feet, I headed off – fingers crossed – for the lifts.
What happened next is nothing short of a miracle: Speaking without the benefit of scientific theory, I can unequivocally state that muscle memory is, in fact, a miraculous thing. Less than 50 yards down the hill my arms, legs and body worked in a coordinated effort that shocked me. Indeed, it was as if I’d been skiing non-stop for the past 35 years. And the crowning jewel? Hearing my manchild proclaim, when I caught up to him at the bottom of the first run, that I was “looking good”! The rest of the day was pure bliss as the lightest, fluffiest snow of the year wafted down continually – none of that heavy, wet, west-slope mush that we Seattleites are accustomed to. This heaven-sent powder made every turn graceful, fluid and a memory that’ll stick with me for years. But for now? I just need to start planning my next skiing trip!