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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008

Hit wine trail this weekend to avoid crowds at the mall

Don't fight the shopping crowds the day after Thanksgiving.

It's called Black Friday for a reason. Instead pack up some turkey sandwiches, a couple of wine glasses and and hit the road.

Yakima Valley

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday wineries in one of Washington's top wine producing areas, the Yakima Valley, will be celebrating Thanksgiving in Wine Country.

More than 50 wineries will hold open houses, offering a chance to meet winemakers and chefs, taste library wines and new releases, nibble on savory tidbits, tour wineries and learn how to pair holiday foods with complimentary wines.

Buy a $25 Premiere Pass ($20 in advance) and you'll be treated to a variety of specialty food and wine pairings, library tastings and tours not available to the public. They're available at www.wineyakimavalley.org. Each pass is paired with a 15-ounce wine glass.

For a complete list of participating wineries, directions and the discounts and specials available at each, go to www.wineyakimavalley.org or call 800-258-7270.

Rattlesnake Hills

If you're willing to drive a bit farther, head for the Zillah area. The 15 wineries along the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail are also celebrating the Thanksgiving weekend.

Buy an optional $5 Passport, and you'll receive deeper discounts on purchases and/or complimentary reserve and port tastings. For a list of the participating wineries, go to www.rattlesankehills.com or call 888-375-7498.

Walla Walla Valley

Can't get away this weekend? Walla Walla-area wineries will treat you to special tastings, savory food and art and craft displays the first week of December.

The wineries are generally open Dec. 5-7.

Hours vary, running mainly 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Going to their websites is the best way to find out which are open when, for directions and what the specials are at each. You'll find them listed at http://wallawallawinenews.com or call 509-214-0315.

Several wineries charge a nominal tasting fee, which is generally refunded with a purchase.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com