Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village offer an attractive diversion from fall’s to-do list. Located just off Columbia Drive in Kennewick, this waterfront destination has something for everyone including nature trails, wine-tasting, food trucks, pop-up vendors and public art, all framed by spectacular views of the Tri-Cities’ iconic bridges.
This wine village is a key piece in the Kennewick Historic Waterfront District Master Plan, which will gradually integrate several different areas into “one unified amenity district,” according to the Port of Kennewick. Among other goals, the project will connect Clover Island and other redeveloped locations to Kennewick’s historic downtown. These locations include Columbia Gardens, The Willows and Cable Greens.
The Columbia Gardens Food Truck Plaza offers enticing fare from Ann’s Best Creole and Soul Food, Bobablastic Tri-Cities, Culture Shock Bistro, Non-Fiction by J. Bookwalter, and Swampy’s BBQ Sauce and Eatery. Pop-up vendors include Rollin’ Fresh Ice Cream, Haven Flower Farm, Ninja Bistro, Frost Me Sweet, Don Taco, Karma Juice and Doggie Style Gourmet. To ensure that your favorite vendor will be there, it’s a good idea to verify availability and hours of operation before you arrive.
There is ample patio seating between the food trucks and the waterfront nature trail, complete with a shade sail and string lighting. A standing-height counter is also in the works, along with dedicated restroom facilities for the Food Truck Plaza. Present customers have access to several nearby portable toilets. There is also a restroom within the wine village courtyard, for which food truck vendors can provide a key.
Columbia Gardens is best appreciated on foot. Indeed, the waterfront path encourages visitors to meander around and explore the amenities. The wineries’ tasting rooms are adjacent to this trail, and their outdoor patios overlook it, so visitors on the path can get a sneak peek of the wineries’ offerings. There is undoubtedly something to please every wine enthusiast with no fewer than four tasting rooms and two wine-production facilities. Monarcha Winery is housed in the middle of two buildings adorned with murals and joined by a breezeway. Bartholomew Winery is in the single large building farther down. Both of these opened in 2018. Cave B Estate Winery and Gordon Estate Winery occupy the smaller building closer to the food trucks, which opened in 2020.
At 0.4 miles long, the paved waterfront nature trail is perfect for an after-dinner stroll along Duffy’s Pond. Even the amateur photographer will want to have a camera handy, as the path provides excellent views of the Cable Bridge to the right and the Blue Bridge to the left. Wildlife competes with the bridges for attention, and pelicans, wood ducks, eagles, otters, beavers, and even the occasional mink make regular appearances.
Getting to the trail from the parking lot is easy, and gentle slopes and smooth surface transitions ensure that the trail is accessible to people using wheelchairs, scooters or other mobility devices. For those who prefer a longer walk, the trail continues to Clover Island, connecting with the 23-mile Sacagawea Heritage Trail. Combined with the wine village’s ample parking, these amenities make it an ideal rendezvous for walkers, cyclists and joggers. To facilitate foot traffic between Columbia Gardens and Kennewick’s historic downtown, the city installed a signalized crosswalk at Columbia Drive and Date Street by Zip’s. Additional pedestrian improvements are being made to Washington Street.
The public’s reception to Columbia Gardens has been positive, according to Deputy CEO for the Port of Kennewick Tana Bader-Inglima, “There has long been community demand for more and better access to the Columbia River and a demand for additional development alongside the waterfront,” she says.
Although it may seem like Columbia Gardens sprang up overnight, its existence is the result of an enduring vision shared by several stakeholders including Benton County, the City of Kennewick, the Port of Kennewick, the private sector, and the public. “The Port has been working for nearly two decades to bring attractive amenities to east Kennewick,” Bader-Inglima explains. “Transitioning a tired industrial part of town into a destination waterfront takes time, consistent engagement, and a dedication to investments that follow a community-driven plan.”
She stresses that the vendors’ dedication to the project has been vital — winemakers and restauranteurs believed in the redevelopment and were willing to share in the risks. “[They] embraced the vision for [a] waterfront wine and artisan village and are making their businesses work as that neighborhood transitions,” Bader-Inglima says. There will soon be opportunities for additional businesses as well, as the Port Commission works to set the pricing on six shovel-ready lots within the wine village.
Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village is located at 325 East Columbia Gardens Way, just off Columbia Drive and across from Zip’s by the Cable Bridge. Like their Facebook page to stay up-to-date on events and activities.