A Weekend of Horses, Riding, Friends, and Wine!
By Lori Lennox
What is a winery ride?
It’s a weekend of horses (and mules), wine, prizes, friends, costumes (optional), more wine, riding, camping, dinner and entertainment – with wine!
Who puts it on?
The Back Country Horsemen of Washington. This is the 18th year of this annual event, which is a major fundraiser for this 501c3 non-profit state-wide organization that works to ensure that public lands remain open for recreational stock use.
When does it happen?
The Prize Ride and Halloween Costume Contest is Saturday, October 26. Most people pre-register (required for camping) and come and camp for the weekend. The property opens up at 1:00 PM on Friday, unless you’re a volunteer who signed up in advance. Very important: see FAQs at www.bchw.org if you plan to camp.
Where is it?
Zillah, Washington in the Yakima Valley wine growing area. Luckily for us the very gracious owner of the property where we create our Winery Ride Village for the event is a hay grower who is happy to have us there! If you are a returning rider, the driveway has been turned into a two-way with an improved and wider entrance.
How does it work?
There may be up to 13 participating wineries, with two loop rides available and riders leave as they get ready, between 9:30 and 11:30. If you are entering the costume contest, judging takes place between 9:30 and 11:00 in a designated location. Riders can pick and choose which wineries they want to visit.
Riders go from winery to winery on horseback. They can tie up to provided hitching areas or take turns holding each other’s mounts and go in to taste the wines. Most will charge a tasting fee – BCHW has no control over this, nor do we profit from it. Most wineries waive the tasting fee with a purchase. Some even have food available to purchase.
There will be Winery Ride volunteers at each winery to tell you where to tie up (somewhat limited) or where your friends can take turns holding each other’s animals. They also point you towards water troughs (scattered along the routes) and restrooms. And they clean up manure and help the winery employees as needed.
Volunteering at this event is fun and there are spots open, contact Deb Wesselius firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Riders who are camping must pre-register, no exceptions, and it is suggested that you pre-purchase the Saturday night dinner also – there are Early Bird prices available! Day riders may sign up the morning of the event.
Riders are each given their own special armband and winery card; all they need to carry is cash or credit card. They can purchase bottles (or case) and pay for it. Winery Ride volunteers make numerous pickups to all the participating wineries throughout the day to pick up the purchases and bring them back to camp. Typically that is approximately 2000 bottles that are brought back for the riders to pick up when they get in from riding! That doesn’t count how many bottles that are consumed on the winery premises – or on horseback!
Riders have until 8:00 p.m. Saturday to turn in armbands for a big drawing and they need to pick up wine purchases and any prizes they may have won.
The Back Country Horsemen Store will be open all weekend, with commemorative Winery Ride shirts and other BCHW swag for sale. You can get more information (FAQs) and get the registration form at www.bchw.org.
Back Country Horsemen of Washington is dedicated to keeping trails open for all users, educating stock users in Leave-No-Trace practices, and providing volunteer service to resource agencies. To learn more about BCHW go to www.bchw.org. Keep up with BCHW and issues and events we are following on our state Facebook page www.facebook.com/public.bchw