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Tasting Notes: The Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid Sips Gas While We Sip Wine

With 4 dear friends in tow, we completed a weekend wine tasting getaway in the beautiful Walla Walla and Red Mountain American Viticultural Areas. The wine was amazing (see some of my notes and recommendations below) and the Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sipped gas while our party sipped wine; we managed to get about 37 MPG round trip, which included 3 full charges of the battery.


In total we drove 600 miles, and on our way back we had about an extra 200 lbs on board compared to our outbound trip (so around 950 pounds of people and stuff). We used one full charge of the battery, and then some, driving around the town of Walla Walla, and one full charge each way, there and back. We got about 36 miles of range on a charge, on average (which included more 60+ MPH driving than not). I decided I would test the Sport Mode functionality since I predicted it would be less efficient, and I was probably wrong (though it was all within a margin of error). The drive home was nearly the same fuel efficiency wise as the drive out, around 36 MPG (the extra weight, headwinds, slightly more uphill, etc. could easily have been the reason). So I am left with the notion that the Kia Sorento PHEV drive modes may not make a significant difference in its overall efficiency results, assuming one is attempting to drive as efficiently as possible (all bets are off if you’re driving like you stole it though). I honestly can not say if that impresses me or discourages me, because I would think Eco mode would be more efficient than Sport mode just given their function and descriptions, but perhaps it should lead me to this: just enjoy the drive and know, as long as you are driving it gently, the Kia Sorento PHEV will deliver impressive efficiency no matter which mode you use it in.

For those of you who may be interested in the purpose of this trip, rather than the results from the drive, here’s the part where I describe the wine. In Walla Walla we visited 5 wineries and all of them were excellent, though some I felt were not just excellent but in a word exceptional. The 5 wineries were: Force Majeure, Garrison Creek Cellars, Pursued By Bear, Reynvaan, and The Walls. Here were my favorites: At Force Majeure, where last year I tasted what I consider to be the best red wine I have ever tasted (the 2017 vintage of the Merlot dominant blend called Epinette), this year I was most impressed with their 2020 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, with stunning black cherry, vanilla, and tobacco notes as well as their Rhone style blend (Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah) called Parvata. The Parvata tasted of ripe red plum and strawberries, with hints of jamon and currants. I enjoyed the 2020 Epinette immensely too, but felt it was too young now though showing great promise to evolve into greatness, over time. Garrison Creek’s extremely small production of 2018 Petit Verdot is potentially one of the best examples of this varietal made in Washington State. Red fruit notes dominate, along with some edges of white pepper and dried flowers all wrapped in grippy, dusty tannins. The whimsical nature of Pursued By Bear, a brand started by the actor Kyle MacLachlan, does not belie the serious craft that go into these wines. Here I had my favorite rosé (of Grenache and Mourvedre) and my favorite Syrah of the trip as well (their cabs and cab blend were also great). I favor drier rosé, with no more than a touch of sweetness and bright acidity, and somewhat the opposite when it comes to Syrah. I favor big, fruit forward, jammy Syrahs with hints of a more mineral and soil driven character (touches of creosote, olive brine and flint) backed up by floral aromatics. Reynvaan’s Syrahs (which they are specialists in) were much more driven by the earth and mineral qualities and their Contender Syrah was my clear favorite. At the Walls, their Concrete Mama, also an earth and mineral driven Syrah, was my favorite.

As I might say while sipping fine wine, here’s to the journey, may it reveal the unexpected and delight us with its turns. Cheers, and please leave any questions or comments about the drive, or the wines, below.

Images courtesy of Justin Hart.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.