It may be a cliché that every little girl loves horses, but if so, I was that cliché. As early as I can remember, I was obsessed with horses, plastering every inch of my room with horse photos and topping my Christmas wishlist with hoofpicks and saddle soap. Many years later, my love of horses remains and I try to ride whenever I have the chance, particularly when I travel.
When I found out I could combine one of my new favorite activities – wine-tasting – with some time spent on the back of a horse, I was thrilled. The Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast, and Barn offers luxurious teepee accommodations in the wine region of Yakima Valley, Washington. For guests who want more time among the horses and vines, the ranch takes riders of all levels on vineyard horseback rides that stop at several wineries nearby.
Despite my love of horses, and the fact that being around them clearly requires time spent outdoors, I do not consider myself an outdoorsy person. Though I’d been assured that the teepee accommodation was more on the “glamping” side, I was a bit worried that it would feel more like camping.
As it turned out, the reality of what I would find at the Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast, and Barn was just as comfortable as promised.
The Cherry Wood is tucked off the main highway that runs through the Yakima Valley, surrounded by acres and acres of vineyards, quiet country roads, and apple and pear orchards.
As we pulled up the drive, the first thing I noticed were the 22-foot tall teepees spread around the property.
The next were, of course, the horses, relaxing in various pens.
Additionally, there was a riding ring and tack room, the main house with patio where breakfast would be served in the morning, and outdoor shower open to the sky and a small enclosure for outdoor baths.
Surrounded by four walls, the bathhouse was also open to the sky; a chalkboard sign-up sheet indicated the baths required an hour to fill with hot water, via buckets, and cost $35 per person.
My husband, Dan, and I were shown to our cabin, which was surprisingly spacious inside and outfitted with a big, soft king bed with a wooden bed frame and plenty of soft pillows and warm blankets.
There was also a fan for the hot afternoons, a small mini-fridge stocked with s’more fixings, campfire equipment, a lantern for nighttime, robes, and slippers. Outside a wooden bench swing overlooked the surrounding orchard and two deck chairs surrounded a firepit and barbecue grill. Around the corner, our private bathroom was located in the most pristine porta-pottie I’ve even seen.
After a quick stop in the room, Dan and I headed to the tack room to meet our mounts for an evening ride to a local winery. All of the b&b(&b)’s horses are rescues.
Owner Pepper Fewel opened the Cherry Wood in 2001, but even before then she was invested in rescuing and rehabilitating horses bound for the slaughterhouse. Now she and her daughter, trail boss Tiffany Fewel, continue to rescue horses and train them to take guests out on full-day rides (Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 11am) that stop at multiple area wineries. The rides include lunch and cost $225 per person. For those not as comfortable on horseback, wagon rides in the “cowboy limo” take visitors on a similar wine-tasting trip on Thursdays and Sundays (cost is $150 per person).
We were getting a shorter version of the ride, heading to one local winery, Dineen Vineyards, which offers sunset views of the vineyards and wood-fired pizzas on Saturday evenings.
In the tack room, Pepper offered Dan and me a selection of cowboy boots while Tiffany prepared our horses, who were chosen to match our experience levels. After a quick refresher on riding basics, we were off, ambling down a few dirt roads and through orchards and vineyards as we made our way to the winery.
Two hours later we did it again in reverse, heading back to the Cherry Wood, where we thanked our trusty steeds, returned our borrowed boots, and headed for the outdoor shower to wash the dust off ourselves under the open sky.
As night fell, we lit a fire in the pit in front of our teepee, opened a bottle of wine, and melted s’mores over the flames. When the last embers went out, we snuggled up under the warm blankets in our teepee, and then awoke again when sunlight came flooding in the next morning.
Breakfast was served on the patio with a view of the horses; there was fresh coffee and juice, baked eggs, sausage, walnut pastry, and a hashbrown cake – plenty of fuel for a day on the ranch.
If you go: Teepee lodging is available Wednesday through Sunday nights, from April through early October. A few weekends per year, the Cherry Wood hosts horse training clinics that see a few additional guests.
Room rates are $245 per night. Horses and dogs are welcome by previous arrangement.
I was a guest of the Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast, and Barn, but all opinions are my own.