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Perfect Day Trips from Walla Walla: Milton-Freewater & the Rocks District Wines

July 23, 2018

Did you know Oregon is only a ten-minute drive from Walla Walla? The first south-of-the-border town you’ll hit is Milton-Freewater. With its own AVA, chocolate, fresh produce, rich history and scenery to boot, you can make a day out of the excursion.

Milton-Freewater is home to one of the Northwest’s newest and smallest AVAs –The Rocks District. Found within the larger Walla Walla Valley AVA, the Rocks District is characterized by its rocky soil and the only AVA in the U.S. determined solely by soil series (Freewater Soil) and land form (alluvial fan).  With Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache topping the varieties, these big bold wines, often described as funky or meaty and already highly lauded, come from just 24 growers and 338 acres.

Currently, only wines produced in Oregon can carry the AVA’s designation. To sample this unique terroir, visit Zerba Cellars, Don Carlo Vineyard and neighboring Southside wineries with Rocks-sourced grapes Tertulia Cellars, Rulo Winery, Rasa Vineyards and more.

Once you’ve had your fill of wine here are a few other ways to explore the town:

Petit Noirs Chocolate: An afternoon of wine tasting is perfectly topped with a visit to this elegant chocolate shop for a sample of their hand-crafted confections with flavors inspired by the complex notes of wines produced nearby and fresh produce.

Walla Walla Cheese Company: With a variety of styles and flavors, visit this fun shop downtown for samples or lunch, with a limited light menu that of course includes a grilled cheese. The cheese is made on-site from local dairies.

Blue Mountain Cider Company: Shake up your wine tasting with a cider tasting. These ciders, produced farm-to-bottle by third generation apple growers are sure to please the palate. Their tasting room is shared with sister company Watermill Winery.

Picnic at Yantis Park: Take your tasty treats to-go for a picnic in this relaxing tree-shaded park. Do climb the paved path behind the park - although quite steep, there are benches along the way and the view of the surrounding town and valley at the top (with a covered picnic table) is worth it.

Frazier Farmstead Museum: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this charming homestead was settled in 1868 by community founder W. S. Frazier and is now run as a museum by the Milton-Freewater Area Historical Society.

Harris Park: A scenic drive out of town takes you to this park and hiking trail, unpaved but flat for several miles through canyons along the South Fork of the Walla Walla River with side trails climbing up the foothills and eventually leading into the Blue Mountains.