Farm-to-table is certainly not a new concept. But to anyone from the Yakima Valley, it’s not just an idea; it’s a way of life. This fertile land just two hours east of Seattle produces more than 40 commercial crops, which means eating fresh and local is as easy as going to the grocery store. Far from the gloomy, rain-soaked reputation that many people associate with Washington State, the Yakima Valley enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. Combine all that sunshine with fertile, volcanic soil and a high-desert climate, and you have an agricultural paradise that harvests the largest variety of fresh grown produce in the Pacific Northwest.
Eating local has never been easier; U-pick farms and roadside fruit stands dot the landscape, and nearly every community throughout the Valley has at least one farmers’ market, some of which are year-round. Many of the local restaurants and chefs make the most of all this bounty, taking special care to select the freshest ingredients directly from the growers themselves. Culinary experiences range from elegant, beautifully prepared meals made with hand-picked local ingredients, to quick snacks picked up from one of the many Mexican taquerias and food trucks. Whatever your tastes lean toward, the Yakima Valley can provide – and with all that beautiful sunshine, outdoor dining is a must!
Beyond the food and produce, the Yakima Valley is also the heart and soul of the Northwest craft beverage industry. Producing an astounding 75 percent of America’s hops, there would literally be no craft beer without the efforts of Yakima Valley’s hop growers. The Valley is one of the few places in the world where you can sip a craft beer while walking in the field where the hops are actually grown. Not to be missed is the annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival, held the first Saturday in October, where the requirement is that the hops used in the featured beers must travel from the bine to the brewing vat in less than 24 hours.
Throughout the last three decades, the Yakima Valley has also become one of the largest and most respected wine regions in the Northwest. With nearly 100 wineries and five unique AVA’s in 70 miles, wine tasting in the Yakima Valley is a rewarding experience. You’ll find friendly tasting rooms, premium boutique wineries, and picturesque vineyards, all just a short drive from one another. Home to more than 17,000 acres of well-drained, loamy and silty volcanic soil that creates the perfect wine-making grapes, the climate and terrain allows the production of a large amount of grape varietals. In addition to the wineries in the Valley, the region supports a huge number of winemakers throughout the Pacific Northwest. If you want a truly unique tasting experience, plan a visit around one of the yearly events, such as Spring Barrel Tasting in April, or Catch the Crush in October.
Whether you’re enjoying fruits and vegetables freshly picked from the farm, or sampling any number of locally made craft beverages, the Yakima Valley provides endless opportunity for anyone to put a little farm-to-table in their life.