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'Red wine & chocolate' event this weekend

More than 50 Yakima Valley wineries are rolling out the red carpet for chocolate connoisseurs during the annual Red Wine and Chocolate weekend event taking place Feb. 17-19.

Winemakers have been searching across the country to find just the right chocolate to pair with their red wines for guests from around the world.

Most wineries will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday through Monday.

Tickets are not required to enjoy the Red Wine & Chocolate event. However, visitors can enjoy additional discounts and specials at participating wineries through the Reserve Ticket program offered through Wine Yakima Valley at www.wineyakimavalley.com, 1-800-258-7270 or the Passport program offered through Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail at www.rattlesnakehills.com, 1-888-375-RHWT(7498).

Some of the participating wineries include:

• Bonair Winery - Zillah: The winery will be pairing French truffles with their Cabernet Franc Port for a bit of heavenly delight!

• Claar Cellars - Zillah: They will release their 2003 Syrah to be tasted in individual chocolate cups made by Essencia Artisan Bakery & Chocolaterie. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Late Harvest Riesling case specials will be available.

• Cowan Vineyards - Prosser: The winery will pair its Cabernet Sauvignon with delicious chocolate provided by the Grandview chapter of the Seattle Children's Hospital Auxiliary.

• Coyote Canyon Winery - Prosser: Coyote Canyon is featuring a chocolate fountain with a variety of dippers, chocolate cake and chocolate dipped cookies to pair with their Estate Syrah and Best Blend.

• Eaton Hill Winery - Granger: the winery will be serving their gourmet bean soup to chase away the chills during Red Wine and Chocolate. For the chocolate lovers, there will also be handmade chocolate creams to pair with their delicious red wines and sweet dessert wines.

• Hinzerling Winery - Prosser: Historic Hinzerling Winery will be offering Port Sodden Chocolate Cherries, maraschino style cherries that are rinsed and soaked in Three Muses Ruby Port for a minimum of 60 days and then dipped in a rich chocolate. The bittersweet chocolate, port and cherry make these confections a perfect match for Hinzerling's much awarded Ruby Port. Winemaker, Mike Wallace, will be on hand to discuss the wines and flavor combinations.

• Hogue Cellars - Prosser: The winery is pleased to give a take-home package of decadent dark chocolates to each VIP guest. These delicious chocolates pair perfectly with Hogue Cellar's Reserve Reds. VIP ticket holders will also receive a 15% discount on all Reserve Wine purchases.

• Horizon's Edge - Zillah: Horizon's Edge will pair superb chocolate with their wonderful ports.

• Hyatt Vineyards and Roza Ridge Winery - Zillah: Hyatt Vineyards and Roza Ridge Winery will open their doors wide for this Presidents' Day weekend, providing mouth-watering chocolates and their new release - Zillah Gorilla Zinfandel!

• Kestrel Vintners Winery - Prosser: Kestrel Vintners will offer all guests a sample of delectable chocolate paired with the winery's Lady in Red Fourth Edition. In addition, there is a 30% discount on cases purchases of the Lady in Red Fourth Edition.

• Paradisos Del Sol - Zillah: Paradisos Del Sol is offering Chocolate Chipotle Turkey Chili with Mole Sauce. A few years ago, they decided that sweet chocolate candy wasn't a GREAT match with their Reds...unless you're a candy junkie.

• Pontin Del Roza Winery - Prosser: Pontin del Roza will have their first Dolcetto wine available for tasting during Red Wine & Chocolate!

• Portteus Vineyards - Zillah: The winery will feature specially made decadent fudge brownies paired with their award-winning red wines and port.

• Silver Lake Winery - Zillah: The winery will have Aaron Barthel of the Intrigue Chocolates Company from Seattle in their tasting room for Red Wine and Chocolate again this year. He has actually made a truffle called Roza Red made with Silver Lake's Roza Red wine. This year he will be sampling his Jamaican HOT Chocolate, Roza Red, Saint Basil, Honey Ginger, Poire William, and Vrai Chai.

• Steppe Cellars - Sunnyside: Steppe Cellars will be offering a scrumptious chocolate truffle to pair with Pinot Noir. For each case purchase, Steppe Cellars will give a lovely Bohemian hand-painted red heart ornament.

• Tefft Cellars Winery - Outlook: Tefft Cellars Winery will release a special new red wine (you'll have to stop in to discover what it is!) and present homemade Chocolate Truffles to pair with the mysterious wine.

• Thurston Wolfe Winery - Prosser: Reserve Ticket holders can enjoy port from the barrel paired with chocolate desserts.

• Wineglass Cellars - Zillah: At Wineglass Cellars, enjoy a dark chocolate truffle square made by the Birchfield chef along with two new wine releases. Reserve ticket holders will enjoy a private tasting with winemaker David Lowe.

Other wineries participating in Red Wine & Chocolate include: Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Apex Cellars, Coyote Canyon, Donitelia Winery, Kana Winery, Snoqualmie Winery, Tapteil Vineyard, Terra Blanca, Tucker Cellars, Willow Crest Winery, and Windy Point.

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