KENNEWICK -- When the big bird has been reduced to bones, the pies are history and your family and guests get restless, hit the road.
Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best times for touring as wineries from the Tri-Cities to Yakima are open.
There are two major areas to tour. The largest is the entire Yakima Valley stretching from the Tri-Cities to Yakima. The 35 wineries that are members of Wine Yakima Valley, an association to promote the vintages and wineries in the Valley, call their event Thanksgiving In Wine Country.
The second, which overlaps the first, are the wineries in the Zillah-Yakima area. They call their event Thanksgiving in Wine Country, Rattlesnake Hills Style.
Nearly all the participating wineries in both areas are offering food to sample while sipping wines, but not all. To plan your tour, you'll want to visit both area's websites.
As you leave home be sure to pack tasting glasses or plan to buy one at your first stop. There will be no time for wineries to wash glasses this weekend.
The main event
This is the largest area to tour so you'll want to plan ahead and choose four or five wineries to visit.
A few wineries will be charging an admission/tasting fee, often refunded with a purchase. Winery hours are generally 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with some opening and closing later.
Buy a Thanksgiving in Wine Country Premiere Pass for $35 and enjoy exclusive benefits available only during this event weekend. Some of the advantages include a variety of specialty food and wine pairings, library tastings and tours not available to the public.
Two of the wineries, Chinook Wines and Thurston Wolfe Winery, both in Prosser, will be open only to Premiere Pass holders.
Premier Passes are available at select wineries. Find a list at http://wineyakimavalley.org. Passes are nonrefundable, but can be transferred to another Wine Yakima Valley event.
For a list of the participating wineries, activities and foods offered in the tasting rooms, go to http://wineyakimavalley.org.
Rattlesnake Hills Style
There are 16 wineries along the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail which is roughly centered around Zillah. The wineries are in the Yakima Valley but have their own association and their own American Viticultural Area, Rattlesnake Hills.
The wineries will be open generally from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a few wineries opening and closing later.
Many of the wineries will be sampling new releases and offering deals on wines and merchandise in their gift shops.
Feeling crafty? You can also make a grapevine wreath for the holidays on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28 at Steppe Cellars in Sunnyside. Supplies and instructions will be provided.
Buy a "Passport" for $10 at any winery for even better deals including extra wine tastings and additional discounts on purchases.
Some wineries may charge a tasting fee often refunded with a purchase.
For a full list of participating wineries, driving directions and the foods and wines featured during the weekend go to www.rattlesnakehills.com/events.htm.
* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org; more food news at www.tricityherald.com/lifestyles/food.
In addition to holding open houses, three Prosser wineries are holding special events during the Thanksgiving weekend. Reservations are required at each one. To sign up go to www.wineyakimavalley.org and click on "events."
Kestrel Vintners is holding wine and artisan cheese tastings at 1 p.m. Nov. 27-28. Cost is $40 per person. Classes run about two hours.
Desert Wind Winery is holding a class on wine-friendly holiday hors d'oeuvres from 10 a.m. to noon Nov 28. Cost is $45 per person and includes instruction, recipes and wine and food samples.
Gamache Vintners will hold a vertical cabernet tasting from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 28. The wines will range in years from 2002-09. Cost is $40 per person and will be at the new facility, 505 Cabernet Court, Prosser.