After crossing the crest of the Horse Heaven Hills just south of Prosser on Highway 221 one enters the Horse Heaven Vinticultural Area. Unless you live in the immediate area there are two reasons fro driving this road: 1) an alternative route to take a few miles off of a trip to northeast Oregon or 2) as part of a wine quest. So after enjoying the view HERE and the Ellensburg Formation HERE one heads south into the Horse Heaven Hills Vinticultural Area. The upper area may not appear very promising as a wine growing area, but as one heads south down the gentle side of the Horse Heaven anticline towards the Columbia River, the agriculture changes from dry land winter wheat to large scale irrigated farm land with a variety of crops including grapes and wineries. (of course if your heading north everything is reversed)
As noted in an earlier Blog, the Horse Heaven Hills also contain a large population of wild horses. However, do not expect to see any wild horses in this area as the horses live well to the west in a large but remote area of the Yakima Indian Reservation. Besides the sign welcoming travelers to the Horse Heaven Vinticultural Area another nearby sign celebrates the wheat land production of the initial farm land.
This year's winter wheat appears to be off to a good start. In this area the fields are left fallow for a year. This allows for the stubble to break down and the field to be worked prior to seeding and moisture buildup may play a role as well. The fields are generally seeded in September and early fall rains are a great help as it allows for some good growth going before cold weather. Some wet weather has already arrived in late September and additional rain arrived the last time I drove through on October 8. Hence the new crop is off to a good start.