Eastern Washington & Oregon – May 2022 – Walla Walla to the Snake River Canyon

Our cold, rainy Memorial Day weekend continued with a visit to one of the best named towns in the country, Walla Walla Washington.

The area around Walla Walla has always been farmed, only in the last few decades it has become known for it’s vineyards.

Further east, at the Idaho/Washington border lie the twin towns of Clarkston, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. The Snake River south of the towns has an impressive canyon.

Washington Highway 129 leaves Clarkston south towards the Oregon border, which when reached turns into Oregon Highway 3. It is a very cool drive!

Columbus – July 2018 – No Whining at the Winery

The Wyandotte Winery is located in what looks like a large house at the end of a residential street in northeast Columbus. In existence since the mid 1970s, it is currently owned by Robin and Valerie Coolidge.




On Saturday’s they offer tours of their winery. It is not a massive winery like you see in the movies or on TV, rather a small ’boutique’ winery that exists in the lower level of the building in about 4000 square feet (a guess).

Valerie was our tour guide, and it ended up being 1/3 technical discussion of wine making, 1/3 history lesson and 1/3 stand up comedy routine. Valerie was a hoot, and informational at the same time.

It helped (I think) that the predominately female group had been tasting for some time upstairs!

The first display was a vintage machine for taking the impurities out of the wine before bottling. It is not currently used in production.




On the bottom of the risers for the stairs is a history of the labels that the winery has used since the 1970s.




The winery names some wines after local landmarks.




Another vintage machine was a grape press.





There are no vineyards on site (just suburbs) – they try to purchase their juice from within Ohio, but will source some from California and as far away as Peru in the winters.

Some of the grapes are grown on their other winery in Fairfield County, Ohio, just southeast of Columbus.




Valerie explained much of the science that goes into wine making.





All of her information was delivered with a lot of humor and informative anecdotes.




More vintage wine making devices





High School science was never like this.





Some test bottles – some fail, some succeed.




The bottle filling station. They can fill 6 at a time.




The original corker – it takes a lot of manual labor and is slow.




The modern corker – works great, but she said the instructions were in Italian.




Once the wine is ready to be aged they go into large vats.




Most of the wine making equipment comes from Italy or France. The American made equipment kept breaking down, so they bought the quality equipment from Europe.




Wine has to bleed off CO2 in the process.




The newer vats have taps at the bottom. Valerie said she enjoys checking out to make sure everything is going ok.




Finally when the wine is bottled and ready – it needs a label. Back in the 1970s the original owners would use Elmers Glue to stick the labels on, often crooked.




The label applicator puts them on perfect every time. The Wyandotte Winery will make you a custom label for your wine for only $5 – how cool.




Valerie was a great tour guide and host – providing an amusing 90 minutes of wine making. Cheers!


Northern California – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 6 – From Wineries to the Mendocino Coast

After leaving Chico, California, we continued west to the I-5, continued south California Highway 20, ironically the same highway we had taken coming out of the Sierra Nevada’s, only we caught it on the west side of the Central Valley. After a short distance we stared up into the Mayacamas Mountains, part of the Coastal Range.

After passing Clear Lake, the largest natual lake in California, we reached the small town of Geyersville, home of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. We have been fortunate enough to eat in many scenic places, but our lunch on the edge of the patio in the shade in perfect 70 degree weather, with a view of the vineyard, was as good as it gets. Excellent, friendly service provided us with a couple of pasta dishes for lunch (rigatoni and sausage and penne with olives and capers in tomato sauce), with olives as an appetizer and a lovely wine called Sophia Riesling. If you could only bottle the day and atmosphere it would be one you would want to relive often.

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After lunch we toured the building to see Mr. Coppola’s movie memorabilia. Items from Apocalypse Now, a miniature ship from Marie Antoinette, posters, props, scripts and other items from films that he directed were displayed.

The most impressive items were those from the movie The Godfather. Although it was prohibited to touch any item, but someone didn’t pay attention to the sign and laid a hand on the Godfather’s desk before seeing the sign not to do so. Outside the building was a patio and pool for receptions and acres of vineyards.

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After leaving the winery we headed back up into the hills for a curvy 40 mile drive to the coast, stopping at Lake Sonoma, where I had the opportunity to GO HOLLYWOOD.

A videographer shooting a commercial for the Sonoma County, California tourism department asked us to act in his video. I was the only one who would do it, so I walked up and down a path along a cliff to photograph the landscape of Lake Sonoma. It only took about two minutes to shoot, afterward I took my photos and we were off.

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We reached California Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, the PCH, and started north along the coast stopping at times to see the scenery or a quirky roadside attraction. A stop at a grass-top cliff provided a magnificent view of the rocky islands and the pounding surf. We tiptoed around cow pies making our way down a trail for new angles for photos. It seems that the cows of northern California have first class views; no wonder the state advertised that they have happy cows.

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Bowling Ball Beach was to be our next stop but we were unable to find the road that led there. We did find the Pygmy Forest which is a rare ecosystem featuring miniature trees, inhabited by small species of rodents and lizards. These dwarf forests are usually located at high elevations, under conditions of sufficient air humidity but poor soil. It is a unique forest of pine, rhododendron and other species that grow much shorter than their species along the coast. The poor soil is caused from the flat land unable to drain properly creating an acidic soil base. The area known as the Van Damme State Park is near Mendocino. The isolated area of stunted trees, less than ten feet tall are surrounded by a forest of tall trees.

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Our hotel, Surf and Sand, in Fort Bragg, California served as our stop for the night. It was a nice room with a deck of a view of the beach and a walking trail. We settled in to watch the Penguins play against Tampa Bay in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. Delivered pizza to our hotel room was dinner. The game was intense but the Penguins won the game 2-1, and it is on to the Stanley Cup Finals. Yeah Pens!

One of the great things about being in California is all the east coast sports that end late there, are at a reasonable time on the West Coast, allowing us to still take a romantic walk on the oceanfront trail behind our hotel that led to a pedestrian trestle bridge crossing a stream flowing into the ocean.

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On our return we caught a beautiful sunset with palms blowing in the wind. The setting sun cast a bright pink sky at the horizon. The evening cooled to about 50 degrees with a brisk wind when we decided to go in for the night.

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Temecula, CA – August 2009 – A Drive in the Mountains

Our Monday started out in Temecula, California, with a first stop just north at Lake Elsinore.

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Later we had lunch at a winery.

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One of my favorite movies is an early 1960s comedy called It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, which had everyone who was anyone in comedy at the time. The movie starts out with a chase scene through the mountains. Our drive to Palm Springs took us along California Highway 74, the same route

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“He Sailed Right Out There!”

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Eventually we arrived in Palm Springs

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