One of my favorite things about horseback riding while on vacation is that it allows me to see new and varied landscapes from the back of a horse, covering more ground than I would on foot (and more pleasurably than by car). In Washington’s Yakima Valley, there’s an added benefit: while enjoying the view and the ride, you can make your way to some of the area’s best wineries.
The Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast, and Barn is set off the Valley’s main highway, amid rolling hills of vineyards and apple and pear orchards. Pepper Fewel opened the Cherry Wood in 2001 as an extension of her business rescuing and rehabilitating horses bound for slaughter. Together with her daughter, Tiffany Fewel, she now welcomes overnight guests, runs horsemanship clinics, and offers trail rides through the surrounding wine country.
My husband, Dan, and I were staying the night in one of the B&B&B’s 22-foot-tall luxury teepees. But first, we were going to experience a shorter version of the full-day wine tasting rides (offered Saturdays and Sundays at 11am for $225 per person -check website for current pricing) which stop at multiple area wineries and include lunch. Pepper and Tiffany were hosting a riding clinic that weekend so in addition to the usual guests at the ranch, there were some extra four-legged visitors onsite. They, along with their riders, would join us on our evening ride to a local winery.
After Dan and I checked into our surprisingly comfortable teepee – complete with king bed, extra blankets, mini-fridge stocked with s’mores supplies, lantern and a fan – we headed down to the tack room to don cowboy boots and saddle up. After chatting with Tiffany about our experience levels, Dan was paired with a stout chestnut horse while I was given an easygoing chestnut mare with a flaxen mane. Both horses were rescues. When I commented on their calm and willing dispositions, Pepper replied, “We don’t use them if they don’t want to do it. We only put rescues on the trail rides if they’re suited to it – if not, they stay home.”
We made our way from the paddock at a leisurely pace, up and down gently rolling hills covered in vines, to Dineen Vineyards, a family-run winery that offers wood-fired pizzas on Saturday evenings. After a sample of the wines, Dan and I settled on glasses of rose and a sausage pizza, which we enjoyed overlooking the vineyards while our horses relaxed at the hitching post.
An hour later, we were back in the saddle, ambling our our way back to the Cherry Wood, where we dismounted and thanked our horses for the great ride, changed out of our boots, and headed for the outdoor shower to wash off the dust from the ride. Had we taken the full day ride, I’d have likely opted for one of the outdoor baths – surrounded by four walls but open to sky, the hot-water baths cost $35 per person and look to be the perfect way to relax and soothe sore muscles after a full day in the saddle. Though our ride was much shorter, we got a good feel for the longer ride, got to see a bit of the beautiful surrounding landscape, and were able to combine two of our favorite activities – wine tasting and horseback riding – into a single afternoon.
As the sun set, Dan and I lit a fire outside of our teepee and broke out the s’mores supplies, and then retreated to sleep to the silence, which was broken only be the occasional whinny of a horse in one of the adjacent paddocks. The soundtrack for breakfast the next morning was the same, as we fueled up on fresh coffee, sausages, and eggs with a view of horses Pepper and Tiffany have saved over the years. Even more than the ride and the view and the wine, the best thing about visiting the Cherry Wood was knowing that proceeds go to help the Fewels rescue more horses and give them a second chance on the ranch.
If You Go:
Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn (509) 829-3500
3271 Roza Dr
Zillah, Washington 98953
Have you gone on a horseback riding vacation in wine country? Share your vineyard riding recommendations below.
This post was written by Katie Hammel who was a guest of Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn. All opinions are her own.Katie Hammel is the Commissioning Editor of Viator.com and a freelance travel writer. She has contributed to BBC Travel, TravelandLeisure.com, 7×7 Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Europe up Close, and more.