Although it’s known as the birthplace of Washington wine—thanks to research done in the area by Walter Clore, the father of Washington wine—there’s more reason to visit the historic Eastern Washington town of Prosser than just grapes.
Look to the Sky. About 20 hot air balloons will fill the skies around town September 28‒30 during the 29th annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally. Set your alarm clock and arrive at the Prosser Airport (111 Nunn Road) by 6:15 a.m. to watch the pilots prepare for flight. In the evening, head to Art Fiker Stadium (1433 Paterson Road), when several of the balloons will be anchored and illuminated from within during the unique event known as Night Glow.
In between, take in the town’s other weekend events, including a harvest festival downtown.
Stock up on Produce. What better place to get the freshest fruits and vegetables than close to where they’re grown? Stock up at the Farmers Market (Prosser City Park, Seventh and Sommers streets; 8 a.m.‒ noon), held each Saturday, May through October. Or head to Bill’s Berry Farm nearby (Grandview, 3674 N County Line Road; 509.882.3200;) and check out what’s ready for harvest. The farm hosts a pumpkin harvesting event on September 22 and 29 that will include a U-pick pumpkin patch, a corn maze, farm games, and a fire pit with marshmallows and refreshments (prices vary).
Stroll Through Downtown. Explore historic downtown Prosser with shops that include Home on 6th (706 Sixth St.; 509.781-6535; Facebook, “Home on 6th”) and Sixth Street Art & Gift Gallery (702 Sixth St.; 509.781.6220; Facebook, “Sixth Street Art”). When hunger calls, stop in at Western-themed gastropub Horse Heaven Saloon (615 Sixth St.; 509.781.6228) for approachable entrées, from street tacos to steak, along with local wines and beer. (Don’t miss the impressive Western long bar made from salvaged old-growth Douglas fir.)
The historic 1920s-era Princess Theatre (1228 Meade Ave.; 509.786.2180) hosts movies and performances, including an upcoming production of Mamma Mia! slated for two weekends in September.
Taste a little or a lot. The Prosser area is home to more than 30 wineries, with a number of tasting rooms clustered together at Vintner’s Village (100 Merlot Drive; 509.786.7401; Facebook, “Prosser’s Vintner’s Village”), making it easy to enjoy an afternoon of tasting. Nearby, you can learn about Washington’s wine history and taste featured wines at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center (2140-A Wine Country Road; 509.786.1000).
Visitors at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center
Stay Awhile. Make a weekend of it by booking a room at the Wine Valley Inn (1206 Wine Country Road; 509.789.2555; from $99), an updated motel within walking distance of downtown.