State’s wineries pairing wine, chocolates and lovers

Wine and chocolate.

It goes together like love and marriage.

Or lust and dating.

So why not grab your sweetie and go on a deliciously romantic wine tour?

Wineries around the state are offering special tours that pair wine and chocolate the weekends before and after Valentine’s Day, which falls on a Thursday.

You can stick close to home or have an overnighter.

About a dozen Clark County wineries near the Oregon border will open their doors for a tour weekend, Feb. 16 and 17.

The region is fertile ground for grapes.

“We’re kind of in the golden age of emerging wine regions,” said Michele Bloomquist, co-owner of Heisen House Vineyards in Battleground. “It’s a winemaker’s paradise.”

The area is still kind of “a best kept secret,” she said. And that means attention from the winemaker.

“At almost every place, the owner and winemaker will be behind the bar, serving wine. You can ask questions about the wine,” she said.

Bloomquist opened her winery in 2010.

“When I purchased the property it wasn’t with the intention to have a winery,” she said. “The apple trees were loaded with fruit so I made some hard apple cider. And I was hooked. Next year I made cider and wine and started helping out at wineries. They were encouraging me. They said, ‘You should have a winery too.’”

So, she did. The winery sold 700 cases last year.

“It’s a small mom-and-pop. We do everything from sweeping the floors to making the wine,” she said.

For more information about Heisen House and the Valentine’s Wine and Chocolate Tour, see www.heisenhousevineyards.com and www.clarkcountywine.com.

Go to www.winedirt.com for information on other Clark County wine tours.

AROUND THE STATE

Olympic Peninsula Wineries

The tour features sweet and savory combinations. Participants who visit all eight wineries will be entered into a drawing for a wine-themed gift basket. Feb. 9 and 10, and Feb. 16, 17 and 18. www.olympicpeninsulawineries.org.

Wenatchee Wine Country

A nominal tasting fee may be charged at some wineries on the Red Wine and Chocolate weekends. Tasting room hours vary. Feb. 8, 9 and 10, and Feb. 15, 16 and 17. Some wineries are open on Valentine’s Day. www.wenatcheewines.com.

Lake Chelan Wine Valley

The boutique wineries will open their tasting room doors and pair gourmet chocolate desserts with their favorite red wines. Feb. 9 and 10, and Feb. 16 and 17. www.lakechelanwinevalley.com.

Rattlesnake Hills Winemakers

Decadent and delectable confections are paired with premium red wine, setting the stage for a romantic weekend on the Rattlesnake Hills wine trail. There is no cost or ticket needed to attend this event, however some wineries do charge a tasting fee. Feb. 16, 17 and 18. www.rattlesnakehills.org.

Whidbey Island

Wineries are hosting separate and joint events.

Whidbey Island Vintners Associations’ Spoil Yourself event with four wineries is Feb. 9 and 10, and Feb. 16, 17 and 18. Tickets, $20 pre-purchased, include a souvenir glass, wine tastes and chocolates: www.brownpapertickets.com or www.whidbeyislandvintners.org.

In Langley, Whidbey Island Winery’s Sweet, Savory and Six Sexy Reds is Feb. 16, 17 and 18. Tickets $10. www.whidbeyislandwinery.com.

Tri-Cities Wineries

Wines from the Yakima and Columbia valleys, as well as Red Mountain. More than 50 wineries provide a variety of chocolate delicacies with their red wines. Premier Pass holders enjoy specialty wine and chocolate pairings, library tastings and tours that are unavailable to the public. Passes are $30 online or $35 at the door. Feb. 16 and 17. www.visittri-cities.com.

Woodinville Wine Country

Red wine and chocolate events will be held at wineries throughout February. For a list of places and events: www.woodinvillewinecountry.com.

For more information about Washington wineries:

www.winetrailsnw.com; n www.winesnw.com

www.swwawine.com; n www.greatnorthwestwine.com/

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com

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