WAPATO -- One visitor held his wineglass up to the light to inspect the deep red merlot while another tasted the contents of his, swishing it in his mouth as if sussing out its ingredients.
Three others in the group at Piety Flats Winery sipped as well Monday, the last day of the annual three-day Red Wine and Chocolate event held at more than 40 wineries up and down the Yakima Valley.
Overall, the event hosted by winery organizations Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail and Wine Yakima Valley was well attended, but sales varied, organizers said.
Shannon Hitchcock, executive director of Rattlesnake Hills, noted an increase in sales and visitors at the wineries in her group.
"Things were excellent -- better than last year," she said. "I checked in with almost all of my 17 wineries and they said sales were up from last year and foot traffic was up as well."
For Wine Yakima Valley, sales were down about 6 percent the first day compared to last year, said executive director Barbara Glover.
"I don't think that we're going to meet last year's totals (on sales)," she said. "I think we're going to be close, but I don't think we're going to meet last year's numbers."
She said snow over mountain passes and Saturday evening's temporary closure of Snoqualmie Pass didn't help.
But both groups said attendance Saturday was good, an indicator that the Spring Barrel Tasting event in April should be well attended.
Glover said visits to wineries in her group Saturday proved that folks were out tasting in full force.
"I couldn't get through the wineries," she said. "I couldn't get into the tasting rooms."
And business at Hyatt Vineyards in Zillah easily doubled from last year, Hitchcock said.
"And that's a large winery," she quipped.
Figures on the amount of business and number of visitors won't be available for a few days, organizers said.
A new feature that went well was what Glover called "sip and click." Tasters would log on to Twitter and input their name and the winery they were visiting. Prizes such as certificates to spas and wineries were given to tasters who were selected at random, she said.
Looking to this spring, Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail will participate in two tasting events running consecutive weekends in April. Last year's Rattlesnake Hills Spring Barrel Tasting event was canceled because Easter fell on that weekend. So, the Yakima Valley Spring Wine Tasting event was the only one held in the Valley, Hitchcock said.
"So we're excited -- we get two weekends again," she said.
Back at Piety Flats Winery just outside Wapato, co-owner Kris Russi said business was better than last year, and it came mostly from local visitors.
"I don't think that we saw that many Seattle people, but we had a lot of locals, which was really, really good," she said. "The locals really supported us."