Clover Island Inn Wins Attention for Wine Tasting, Entertainment and Much More.

The Tri-Cities sit several hours from Portland but for travelers seeking connection with famous wine labels at the source, the drive must be a part of the journey. From Portland the spectacular gorge emerges and the river reminds us of life itself, easy times portrayed by the smooth water and hectic ones by the famous dams spewing out lengths of frantic white froth. The drive doesn’t seem nearly as long as a much shorter distance in traffic and there is no need for a radio to provide entertainment; although music can add to this natural wonder.  The trip reveals exceptional geography, silly putty mountains with hues as subtle as Mona Lisa’s smile, windmills that stand like alien invasions across the sky. Even a wannabe photographer can produce world class pictures with plenty of these mesmerizing options.

Downtown Kennewick is a charm bomb that even the locals can appreciate. The main street of super cute shops includes the essential ones like hardware stores, dry cleaners, and barbers, and they are crisply presented like fancy chocolates in a carton. It’s almost like a step back in time, but the historical restoration is enhanced by the beautiful newer sculptures prominently displayed on the street. This city hasn’t been forgotten like so many others, it is obviously the cornerstone of a productive business community that is taking its time with messaging to both tourists and locals. There is a wonderful Marketplace being built between downtown and the river which will showcase tasting rooms, eateries and retail. Yet another historical location is steps from downtown and home of one of Kennewick’s Gems, The Clover Island Inn. It stands as a beacon over the short bridge, calling visitors who wish the best of two worlds, both liquid and earth. Smack dab in the middle of the Tri-Cities Wine growing region Kennewick Washington holds a spot on the map intersected by a line of navy. Clover Island Inn makes a claim to that blue line unlike any other accommodations in town. Rooms with a river view need no binoculars. The six point type on the map with the words simply written “Columbia River” in pale blue denies the significant waterway that sits just a few feet from the guest windows.

Locals all know Clover Island for a multitude of reasons like the outdoor summer concerts, boat racing, car shows and the Coast Guard Station. It’s also home of the last lighthouse to be built in the United States, a boat moorage, a brewery & restaurant and of course The Clover Island Inn. It’s one of those places that you might start to lose fascination with if you live in Kennewick, but at the same time on the top of the list for out of town guests. At The Clover Island Inn newcomers sit in awe of the views from their rooms and fall in love with the quaintness of the Inn and the staff. Often when we head to wine country we don’t really pay attention to our overnight accommodations, but it’s not possible to ignore this sweet dash of hospitality. There isn’t any other location to stay with this much of a territorial view of the river and cable bridge that is so central to all things good. Old school manners and a pleasant staff only add to the other attributes included with your stay. The views, oh did I mention the views? A great outdoor pool by the river offers relief from hot temperatures at the same time conjuring visions of a rat pack party night. At the top of this the inn is an enchanting vibe from the restaurant and bar that will make you want to subscribe to a newspaper again just for old time sake. The Crow’s Nest Restaurant too sits waterside, but has a limited wine menu, then you find out it also has an absolutely divine corkage fee, only $10 – stop the bus – cause it just so happens we have wine! The food is easy to enjoy and anyone would like this place. The whole inn is very clean and the rooms totally adequate. Breakfast in the morning is located on the upper floor with a plethora of choices to satisfy even the pickiest of palates. All this and more are included in the room fee. Each week special nights include appetizers and inexpensive drinks. I’m sure that more than one guest felt like they might have lost their desire for wine tasting with so many options presented right at the inn. A handsome walking trail along the river invites more exploration or for a quicker trip pick up a bike at the front desk and let the rubber meet the road under your own propulsion. Badger Mountain, and the soon to be opened Candy Mountain, beckons from their shaved skulls of dirt for the hardier outdoorsman to prove their fitness levels with selfies at the top.

We had come for the wine though and it did not disappoint. With so many regions to explore around the world it can easily take its place among the top. Some wineries are well known while others we had yet to discover. It’s quite a treat when the winemakers are in the tasting rooms, their faces expectant about what ours might reveal as we try the liquid in the glass. Some emote more nods and sighs than others, but then that is how you fall in love with a wine, or so I have read. Listening to the wine history and owners trials and tribulations, learning about the geology makeup and how it all comes to fruition in a barrel, whether wooden or steel, these are all part of the emotional connection one can make with a wine.

As we head back towards Portland reluctantly we check out from Clover Island Inn. We found that it is also locally owned, and that added a feel good ending to this little bit of nostalgia by the river. As we left the manager waved good bye from his perch on a heist from which he was placing a new facade on the front of the inn. We returned the salutation and turned West, thinking we should have made plans to stay a few more days.

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