When you think of the United States and wine, I imagine your mind takes you straight to California. But did you know that Washington State is the second largest wine-producing state in the US? And that it is home to more than 1,000 wineries?
As prices rise in California‘s best-known wine regions like Napa, more and more people are looking to Washington State as the next big name in US wine. Add to this the outstanding natural beauty of Washington State, its fantastic food scene, friendly people, and temperate weather, and you have a wine region that is a pleasure to visit.
I’ll help you plan that visit by taking you through where the wine regions are in Washington, 26 fantastic wineries in Washington, other great things to do in Washington State, some great restaurants and, of course, some of the best boutique hotels in the state.
How to Plan your visit to wineries in Washington
Table of Contents
- How to Plan your visit to wineries in Washington
- Seattle Only
- Washington Wine Road Trip
- A bit more about Walla Walla
- Wineries in Washington
- 1. Rotie Cellars
- 2. Sleight of Hand
- 3. House of Smith
- 4. Chateau Ste Michelle
- 5. Efeste
- 5. Pondera
- 6. Rocky Pond
- 7. Delille Cellars
- 8. Long Shadows
- 9. Jaine
- Yakima Valley-Based Wineries
- 10. Treveri
- 11. Rider Cellars
- 12. Wilridge
- 13. Two Mountains
- Tri-Cities Based Wineries
- 14. J. Bookwalter
- 15. Goose Ridge
- 16. Barnard Griffin
- Tri-Cities Red Mountain-Based Wineries
- 17. Red Mountain Trails
- 18. Col Solare
- 19. Fidelitas
- 20. Frichette
- 21. Muret-Gaston
- 22. Hightower Cellars
- Walla Walla Based Wineries
- 23. L’Ecole No 41
- 24. Balboa
- 25. Seven Hills
- 26. Walla Walla Vintners
- Bringing Washington Wine Home
- Things to do in Washington State that aren’t tasting wine
- 1. Take a Pike Place Market Food Tour
- 2. Try the Salted Caramels at Fran’s
- 3. See Snoqualmie Falls
- 4. Yakima Canyon Drive
- 5. Create Your Own Glass Art
- Some great places to eat in Washington
- Dahlia Bakery
- Walla Walla Steak Co
- Barking Frog
- Los Hernandez
- Cafe 11th Avenue
- Frost Me Sweet Bakery
- Drumheller’s at The Lodge
- Walla Walla
- Brasserie Four
- Walla Walla Bread Company
- Where to Stay in Washington State
- Seattle – Hotel Andra
- Woodinville – Willows Lodge
- Yakima – Hilton Maison
- Tri Cities – Richland – The Lodge at Columbia Point
- Walla Walla – The Finch
- How to Get to Washington State Wineries
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Where are most vineyards in Washington?
- What are the largest wineries in Washington State?
- How Many wineries are in Washington state
- How much do wine tastings cost in Washington State?
- When should I visit Washington Wine country?
The beauty of a Washington State wine trip is its flexibility. Many of the wineries in Washington State, particularly the larger ones, have tasting rooms in Seattle and/or in nearby Woodinville. Seattle has areas like SODO, which has several tasting rooms literally next door to each other, allowing visitors to do their own vineyard hopping whilst in town.
Woodinville is less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle and home to over 130 tasting rooms and vineyards. Woodinville is an easy half-day or day trip from Seattle and can be visited on a tour, so you don’t have to worry about driving. If you have a couple of days, I would recommend staying in Woodinville. Again, many of the tasting rooms and wineries are within walking distance, and there is no need for a car.
If you have more time, then it is possible to head to the actual vineyards and do a Washington wine road trip. This is what I did when I visited Washington State (as well as Seattle and Woodinville). Walla Walla routinely comes up as one of the best wine towns in the United States and should definitely be on your itinerary.
I also visited the Tri-Cities area, which is home to a great range of wineries, as well as the famous Red Mountain and the beautiful Yakima Valley.
I spent two nights in Woodinville, one night in Yakima, two nights in the Tri-Cities and one night in Walla Walla. This six-night trip allowed me to visit a wide range of wineries and really get to know the Washington wine world. I would highly recommend a similar itinerary.
Seattle has a mix of urban wineries that source their fruit from around Washington, as well as tasting rooms for some of Washington’s best-known wineries. SODO Urbanworks is the perfect place to go if you are in Seattle and want to taste some Washington wine but are short on time. It is home to ten different winery tasting rooms as well as San Juan Seltzer and Nine Pies Pizza. It is located near the stadium.
Head to funky Georgetown and check out one of the first champions of Washington wine at House of Smith Jet City (more about them later in this article). Or visit some of the urban wineries such as Welcome Road Winery or Pine Lake Cellars.
Woodinville is less than 20 miles from Seattle and home to 130 tasting rooms. This is also the location of some of the state’s oldest vines which you can see at Washington’s oldest winery, Chateau Ste Michelle. Plus, Woodinville is home to ten breweries, seven distilleries and many good restaurants.
The downtown area is pedestrianized and home to some great restaurants and tasting rooms. I stayed in the Hollywood district and was able to walk to nearly 30 tasting rooms, including the glorious Chateau Ste Michelle.
Woodinville now receives over 1 million visitors a year. The town has 12 different wine passes available for visitors offering great deals on everything from Rose producers to female wine producers. There is no need to download an app, as the passes are delivered via text or email and can be saved on your phone.
Washington Wine Road Trip
Yakima is a 2 1/2 hour drive southeast of Woodinville. From Yakima to the Tri-Cities is about 75 minutes. It takes about one hour to drive from the Tri-Cities to Walla Walla, again all heading southeast. From Walla Walla back to Seattle takes about 4 hours and 20 minutes.
A bit more about Walla Walla
Downtown Walla Walla has a charming main street that is home to many tasting rooms. If you didn’t have a car, it would be possible to experience a good range of Walla Walla wineries by tasting room hopping along the main street. If you’re looking to buy some wine, head to The Thief, which also serves wine by the glass.
Walla Walla is also home to a winery incubator which is located near its airport. Established in 2000, the wine incubator supports new winemakers getting started. There are five cute and colorful barn-style buildings at the incubator. One is the Washington wine shop which is another good place to buy wine to take home.
The other four buildings are leased out to brand-new vineyards for two years. This allows the new vineyards to start serving their wines without the funds needed to set up their own tasting rooms. Every two years, the wineries change.
Visiting the Airport Winery Incubator is a fun and unique way to try the newest wines in Walla Walla. However, make sure to check the opening hours before you visit, as most of the incubators are staffed by small teams. There are also a few other wineries with tasting rooms near the airport.
NB: The Airport Winery Incubator isn’t located at the actual Walla Walla Airport. It is only a few minutes away by car, but you will need to allocate time if you want to visit on your way in or out of the airport.
Wineries in Washington
1. Rotie Cellars
Rotie Cellars is a Walla Walla-based winery in the Rocks area with a tasting room in Seattle’s SODO. If you like the wines of Cote du Rhone then this is the winery for you. Rotie is all about making traditional Rhone blends using Washington State fruit. So these are red wines with lower alcohol levels, less oak, and more balanced.
But Rotie doesn’t just make Rhone-style wines. They have a sparkling rose that is very popular as well as a white blend. Their Seattle tasting room has a modern, industrial feel and visitors can try five of their wines for $20.
Rotie’s winery/tasting room is actually located over the border in Oregon. There is both outdoor and indoor seating. Reservations can be made for tastings at both locations on the Rotie Cellars’ website.
2. Sleight of Hand
Another Walla Walla based winery, Sleight of Hand, is only a couple of doors down from Rotie at SODO. Sleight of Hand was founded in 2007 by Trey Busch and Jerry and Sandy Solomon. Their signature wine is the Archimage which is a Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend. They also make some fantastic Syrahs, including the Psychedelic Syrah from the highly rated Rocks area of Walla Walla.
The owners of Sleight of Hand are big music fans and use their collection of over 2,000 albums to keep turntables moving at both their SODO and Walla Walla tasting rooms.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris is a big fan of Sleight of Hand. He is also a magician and thus a perfect fit with the Sleight of Hand brand. The winery decided to produce a wine featuring Harris on the label, The Conjurer, which is one of their big sellers.
3. House of Smith
House of Smith was started by Charles Smith in 1997. Smith had been a tour manager for some of the world’s biggest rock groups before realizing the potential of Washington as a wine state before many others.
Today House of Smith is the largest independent and winemaker-owned winery in Washington State and has seven different brands. It is perhaps best known for its K label. Smith was responsible for one of the first Washington State wines to gain a perfect 100-point score from Wine Spectator.
The Seattle tasting room is known as House of Smith Jet City and is located in the up-and-coming Georgetown neighborhood. It’s a large building with a hip, industrial feel, lots of glass, and high ceilings. They store quite a bit of wine on-site, so you can sit and sip and see the barrels through the glass.
House of Smith also has a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla and at their K Vintners winery in Walla Walla.
4. Chateau Ste Michelle
Chateau Ste Michelle is the oldest and the biggest winery in Washington State. I always want to be most passionate about the small guy wineries, but I must admit I loved Chateau Ste Michelle and its wines.
Their property in Woodinville was originally marshland that was converted into a dairy farm. Their first wines came in 1967 and their French-style chateau in Woodinville was built in 1972. The winery’s white wines are made in Woodinville, and their red wines are at their Canoe Ridge Estate Winery in Eastern Washington.
Chateau Ste Michelle produces a large range of wines and has several different brands. Their signature white wine is Riesling, but I loved their Ethos and Cold Creek chardonnay. Their signature red is Cabernet. However, there is such a huge range of wines available that you will surely find something you like.
The estate in Woodinville is quite magical. I visited on a warm Saturday, and it was buzzing. The large gardens were filled with people enjoying wine and picnics. The main building is big but divided into several different areas and rooms, so it is quite easy to navigate.
Don’t miss Chateau Ste Michelle if you’re heading to Woodinville.
Efeste’s first vintage in 2005 was actually made with grapes from California. They started growing their own grapes in Washington in 2007. This is a true family business. I met Eleni and Big Papa, who have involved their entire family in their winery. Many of Efeste’s wines are named after family members.
Efeste is best known for its cabernet syrah blend, which always sells out. After tasting this incredibly smooth red wine, I could see why this was the case. Eleni’s favorite wine is Kayleigh which is 100% Syrah. I agreed with Papa on his favorite wine, Lola, an oaked chardonnay.
The tasting room in Woodinville is very modern, with concrete floors, high ceilings, lots of windows and oak but it still feels quite warm and almost cosy.
You can also find Efeste at SODO in Seattle.
Shane Howard started the Pondera winery in 2003. He taught himself winemaking and decided to focus on Bordeaux-style red blends. He also makes Syrah, a very popular Malbec, Chardonnay and Viognier. Pondera has taken many awards for its wine, including 2022 double golds for its Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon Blends Entwined 2017 and Stiletto 2018 and gold for its Viognier at the Belle and Bottle Awards.
The Pondera Winery tasting room in Woodinville is filled with art. Shane’s parents ran a picture-framing business for years. They have used their knowledge of art to source the work of local artists and display them on the walls at Pondera, turning it into both a tasting room and an art gallery. The combination of the two makes for a great wine-tasting experience.
6. Rocky Pond
Founded in 2013, Rocky Pond grows twenty different grapes in Washington. They are best known for their Stratastone, a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, Cabernet and their white wine blend Glacial Treasure. I also thought that their traditional method sparkling was excellent.
The Rocky Pond tasting room is in downtown Woodinville. It’s a bright and modern space. I loved their wrought iron “wine trees” that are used for tastings. And I was blown away by their charcuterie platter. Rock Pond is also well known for its baguette and butter, which was also fantastic.
Rocky Pond also has a tasting room at its winery in Lake Chelan.
7. Delille Cellars
Delille Cellars was the first Washington winery to produce a Bordeaux-style blend, and it has one of the oldest vineyards in Woodinville. Delille sources its grapes from Red Mountain as well as various sites in the Columbia Valley.
DeLille Cellars started in 1992 and was one of the first five wineries in Washington to receive Robert Parker’s 5-star excellence rating. Today they are still best known for their Bordeaux style blends, D2 and Chaleur Estate. They also make a highly rated white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon called Chaleur Blanc.
Like Chateau Ste Michelle, Delille has a large operation in Woodinville. Their vineyard/tasting room runs over three stories, and in addition to all sorts of tastings, guests can take part in a wine blending experience, a library wine tasting, or enjoy a full meal at The Lounge Restaurant.
8. Long Shadows
Long Shadows Winery was started by the former CEO of Chateau Ste Michelle, Allen Shoup. He developed seven ultra-premium wines inspired by the world’s top wine regions. The winery worked with a winemaker in each region to develop unique versions of their top wines using Washington fruit.
These include Tuscany, Bordeaux, Napa, South Australia, Pomerol and Schlossgut Diel in Germany. All of their wines are aged in French Oak.
The results are impressive. Feathers, their Cabernet collaboration with a Napa-based winemaker, is their best-selling red wine. I was a big fan of their Sequel Syrah, developed with an Australian winemaker.
Long Shadows also produces its own wines, such as its Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to its partnership wines. The winery is in Walla Walla and they also have a tasting room.
Unlike most Washington state wineries, Jaine is all about white wine and rose. Their tasting room/cottage in Woodinville is a lovely white clapboard house with a marquee filled with soft lights and oak tables.
They are best known for their signature Jaine Rose and their Laura Lee Sauvignon Blanc. Jaine is all about soft white wines with relatively low acidity. I also really liked their sparkling Blanc de Blanc and they do have a couple of red wines as well.
If you are looking to visit Woodinville with girlfriends, I can think of few nicer places to spend the afternoon wine tasting than the light and relaxing Jaine tasting room in Woodinville.
Yakima Valley-Based Wineries
If you like sparkling wine, then Treveri Cellars should be top of your wine-tasting list for Washington State. They are Washington State’s premier dedicated sparkling wine house. Their winemaker is German and sparkling wine was his mother’s favorite drink.
Treveri makes their sparkling using the traditional method. Their sparkling wines are all 100% single grape, apart from the sparkling rose, which is a mix of Syrah and Chardonnay. I thought all of their sparkling wines were excellent, but I particularly enjoyed the sparkling Syrah, a unique and tasty wine.
The best thing to order at Treveri is a sparkling flight. They are excellent value at just $10. One of the tasting options is a Mimosa flight which is something I haven’t seen before. The Mimosa flight includes orange-mango, strawberry-pineapple, guava-passionfruit and raspberry-lemonade rose. Plus they have a great cocktail list.
Treveri is well known for its Sunday brunch – make sure you book. They have sharing platters on offer when it isn’t Sunday and the pretzel charcuterie board is supposed to be particularly good.
11. Rider Cellars
This boutique winery is located in Selah, and its specialty is playing with grapes that are unusual for the area. Kristin and Colby Rider bought a vineyard in 2016 only a few minutes from the town of Selah that was already growing Pinot Blanc and an Austrian grape called Zweigelt. They decided to focus on these grapes and start experimenting.
Today pinot blanc is the best-selling white wine in the range. Rider Cellars also uses the pet nat method to make their sparkling wine with pinot blanc. This is an old French method that bottles the wine before primary fermentation is finished. When it comes to reds, they are best known for their syrah and, of course the unique Zweigelt.
The tasting room in Selah is cosy and full of character. It is located on the town’s main street and quite easy to find.
Wilridge has a spectacular location on the uplands of the Cowiche Conservancy trail system. The views of the vineyards seem to go for miles and visitors are welcome to hike along one of the many trails. Or hike the three-mile Cowiche Conservancy Trail and finish up at Wilridge.
The winery follows organic and biodynamic growing practices for its large range of grapes. They have one of the larger ranges of white wine in the Yakima Valley, including a very nice Chardonnay. However, they are best known for their red Bordeaux-style blend. I was also a big fan of their Syrah. They also make vodka, brandy and even grappa.
The tasting room is surrounded by a wonderful wrap-around porch with loads of seating. I would aim to get to Wilridge for mid-afternoon to allow for sitting and relaxing on the porch and watching the sun drop.
You can also find Wilridge Wines at Pike Place Market in Seattle.
13. Two Mountains
This family-owned winery planted its first grapes in 2000, but previous generations had been farming on their Yakima Valley land since 1951. All of their fruit comes from their own 300 acres of vineyards. They have a very fruit-forward style with minimal interac
They grow fruit specifically for their best-selling rose, which also comes in a very cute four-pack. Their other top seller is a Bordeaux-style red blend that is great value at $15 a bottle. I also tried their riesling, which was high in minerality and had a lot of flavor.
Tastings can be booked on the Two Mountains Winery website, or you can just pop in and try your luck. They don’t have a kitchen, but they sell pre-packaged snacks or are happy for you to bring your own.
Tri-Cities Based Wineries
14. J. Bookwalter
Jerry Bookwalter started making wine in the Tri-Cities area in 1983. Today his son is the head winemaker at the vineyard. Their wines are all named within a literary theme. They are perhaps best known for their quintessential Washington State cabernet sauvignon, the Protagonist. I was also very impressed by their Volume 9 cabernet.
If you’re after a great value red wine checkout Subplot 40, which is only $20 a bottle. Bookwalter has been making this wine for 40 years. In terms of whites, I really enjoyed the Double Plot Chardonnay.
Bookwalter has a beautiful new tasting room in Richland with a very cool wine glass sculpture out front. I also loved their state of Washington-shaped wine racks. The tasting room has seating inside and out, and in addition to tasting flights, wine is sold by the bottle and by the glass.
In addition to the Richland tasting room, Bookwalter has a great restaurant called Fiction (read about it in my restaurant section of this article) and a tasting room in Woodinville. Plus, there are two other wineries within walking distance of the Richland tasting room if you want to make a day of wine tasting.
15. Goose Ridge
Goose Ridge is the largest contiguous estate vineyard in Washington State, with over 2,000 acres of grapes. They have five brands of wine and also make some excellent cider (try the blood orange). It would be quite difficult to visit Goose Ridge’s comfortable tasting room and not find anything you liked.
Goose Ridge’s flagship wine is the red blend Vireo. They also have a first flight red blend which is very tasty and a good merlot. In addition to wine flights, they also offer cider and vodka tastings plus a small bites menu.
The outdoor tasting area is filled with pagodas and big soft couches. It feels more like a boutique hotel poolside setup than a winery. It is a lovely place to sit and taste wine.
Goose Ridge also has tasting rooms in Woodinville, Leavenworth and Walla Walla.
16. Barnard Griffin
Barnard Griffin planted their first vines in 1983. Their signature wines blend their grapes and those sourced from other wineries. The reserve range is sourced from specific sites. They make a lovely fresh sparkling wine with many apple notes for which they are quite well known.
Their best-known wine is their award-winning rose which is made from Sangiovese grapes. They have won the rose section of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for the last eight years.
And do make sure you taste Cotes du Rob – their Rhone style red (Rob is the name of their winemaker) as well as the Albarino. Barnard Griffin also makes some fortified wines under the Rapport brand.
In addition to the standard wine flight tasting offer, Barnard Griffin also offers private tastings, which include a tour and charcuterie platter. They offer a decent-sized tapas menu Wednesday through Sunday. And they have a glassworks studio which I visited and will tell you about later in this article.
This was also one of the friendliest and most fun tasting rooms that I visited. The staff at Barnard Griffin are very entertaining and engaging.
Barnard Griffin also has a tasting room in Vancouver, Washington.
Tri-Cities Red Mountain-Based Wineries
17. Red Mountain Trails
If you’re after a more unique wine-tasting experience, then head to Red Mountain Trails Winery. The winery offers a choice of either a 20-minute wagon ride or one-hour trail ride through the vines before wine tastings. We took the wagon ride and it was good fun.
After the ride, we sat outside by a firepit, and our wine flight appeared in cute small glass bottles. Red Mountain’s biggest seller is their rose and they are well known for their cabernet franc. Their red wines are made with the grapes you will have just ridden through and the grapes for their chardonnay and rose are sourced from Columbia valley.
Post-wine tasting, the lovely team at Red Mountain Trails brought out a cardboard box that contained graham crackers, Hershey chocolate, M&M’s, Reese’s peanut butter cups and some very large marshmallows. We made some very tasty smores on the fire pit.
If you are visiting Red Mountain Trail between mid-June and the end of August you will have the opportunity to take a goat yoga class. Goat yoga can only take place when the goats are up to 8 weeks old, so it is a limited season but I am sure very memorable!
18. Col Solare
If you’re looking for a touch of Tuscany in Washington State then Col Solare is the winery for you. Col Solare is a joint venture between Chateau Ste Michelle and Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori winery. The first vintage was in 2006, and grapes were planted according to the Antinori style. This is Washington States’ only winery with international ownership.
The tasting room/vineyard main building has been designed in a Tuscan style, complete with a bell tower (which is only rung at the beginning and the end of harvest). It feels more high-end than most of the other tasting rooms I visited in Washington. Col Solare has both outdoor and indoor areas for tastings, as well as some stunning views over their vineyards.
These are higher-end wines, and was the most expensive tasting I did during this visit. Col Solare is best known for its Cabernet, and they make some very impressive red wines.
Col Solare also has a tasting Bottega at Chateau Ste Michelle in Woodinville.
Fidelitas was one of my favorite tasting experiences in Washington. The tasting room itself is large and modern, with high ceilings and lots of glass, plus a very impressive wall of wine that I wanted to take home.
But best of all was the wonderful outdoor area complete with Adirondack chairs and some amazing views. I highly recommend timing your visit to Fidelitas for sunset. A Red Mountain sunset is something quite special and not to be missed.
Fidelitas is a small family-owned winery that has been specializing in Bordeaux-style blends since 2000. They also make a malbec and, in the whites, a Semillon and sauvignon blanc. All of their fruit comes from Red Mountain.
They also serve one of the best-tasting charcuterie platters I have ever had. It consisted of three kinds of cheese, two salamis, cranberries, and toasted walnuts.
Fidelitas also has a tasting room in Woodinville.
Greg and Shae Frichette opened their first tasting room in 2013, serving their first vintage of 2011. Today Frichette Winery offers seven varietals, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillion. Shae also has her own sub-brand, Sashay, which is a rose.
I tasted their fantastic 2019 Red Reserve. Visit their Red Mountain winery and try a signature flight, a winemaker select flight, or a mystery flight.
Muret-Gaston is a Red Mountain winery run by husband and wife Amy and Kyle Johnson. When the couple met and married, they discovered that 15 generations earlier, their ancestors had lived in neighboring villages in Southern France. This discovery inspired their wine journey and today, they blend old and new world winemaking techniques and age their wines in French barrels.
The winery focuses production on small lots and is well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blend. I actually tasted one of their whites, an excellent grenache blanc.
Taste Muret-Gaston wines at their winery or in their wine bar in Kennewick.
22. Hightower Cellars
Hightower Cellars was founded in 1997 by Tim and Kelly Hightower. Their winery and tasting room are in the Red Mountain region. Hightower grows Bordeaux varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet France and Petit Verdot. They also buy in Syrah, Viognier and Grenache grapes.
Each vintage Hightower Cellar releases its best blend as their “Out of Line Vineyard” Estate Red Wine. I tasted their 2018 vintage and it was outstanding.
Walla Walla Based Wineries
23. L’Ecole No 41
One of the first wineries that can be seen when driving into Walla Walla is L’Ecole No 41. Based in a historic schoolhouse from 1915, L’Ecole is the third oldest winery in the region. They are best known for their Bordeaux style blends, such as the Perigee. Their latest red blend, Ferguson, has won many awards and is now one of their most popular wines.
The schoolhouse has a beautiful large tasting room upstairs with seating both indoors and outside. They offer a range of tasting flights at different price points and will waive the tasting fee based on a minimum purchase amount. Although they are best known for their reds, I also very much liked their whites and took home a bottle of Chardonnay.
Taste L’Ecole at their winery, in their wine bar in downtown Walla Walla or at their tasting room in Woodinville.
At Balboa, the picking and sorting of grapes are all done by hand, and each vineyard block is crushed and fermented separately. Founded in 2005, the winery is located in the rocks area of Walla Walla. I loved their tasting room that uses the bottom of barrels as wallpaper and there is a lovely outdoor area for tasting.
Balboa’s sparkling rose is extremely popular at the moment and should definitely be tasted. I loved all the reds I tasted at Balboa, particularly the 2017 Syrah. Balboa is also one of only several wineries that makes wine from the traditionally Chilean grape Carmenere.
25. Seven Hills
Seven Hills have some of the oldest vines in Walla Walla and one of the most beautiful tasting rooms. Established in 1988, they are one of the founding estates of Walla Walla. Their winery and tasting room are located in an old wood mill from 1904 in downtown Walla Walla.
The old mill’s high ceiling, wooden rafters and wooden floorboard have all been preserved and make for a lovely bright-tasting room. And as you sit and enjoy your tasting at Seven Hills you will be able to see the working winery and barrels through the glass.
Seven Hills are known for its merlot and cabernet sauvignon-based wines. Each year the winemaker chooses the best lots from each varietal and puts together a Bordeaux-style blend called the Pentad.
26. Walla Walla Vintners
Walla Walla Vintners has been making wine since 1995. Their vineyard and tasting room is a 15-minute drive from downtown Walla Walla. They have a lovely large outdoor area with big comfortable couches, umbrellas and fantastic views of their vines.
They are one of the few wineries in Walla Walla to produce Sangiovese. They are well known for this and their Cabernet and Red Blend. Their cut bank estate red features fruit from their best vineyard each year. They also make a very good sauvignon blanc.
Bringing Washington Wine Home
If you live in the United States or Canada most of the wineries can ship your wine purchases home. Additionally, many wineries run clubs involving regular deliveries and offers. These can be a great way to stay in touch with your favorite Washington wineries.
If, like me, you live outside of the United States and Canada, few Washington wineries will ship – plus there is local tax to consider. However, there is a way around this. I live in London and flew premium economy. In the UK I can bring in up to about 18 bottles of wine if they are for personal use.
My premium economy ticket gave me 2 x 23 kg bags. At Chateau Ste Michelle, I could buy a typical cardboard box for a case of wine and the inners which protect the wine. I loaded this up with 12 bottles and taped it all up. It weighed about 20kgs and I could check it through from London to Seattle as my second bag. I also stashed a few more bottles in my luggage.
Of course, check your home country’s allowances on personal use and tax and you don’t have to fly premium economy to purchase an extra check-in bag.
Things to do in Washington State that aren’t tasting wine
1. Take a Pike Place Market Food Tour
Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market has been a Seattle icon for over a century for good reason. I first visited Pike Place Market in the 1980s when I lived in Seattle, and even as a teenager, I loved it. Today it is filled with interesting and diverse food and beverage offers, and one of the best ways to get to know the market is to take a food tour.
2. Try the Salted Caramels at Fran’s
If you’re a big fan of caramel – which I am – then don’t miss a visit to Fran’s. The chocolates are amazing and their store in Georgetown is beautiful. President Obama used to give White House guests Fran’s gray salt caramel chocolates when he was in the Oval Office – they are that good.
3. See Snoqualmie Falls
Twenty miles past Woodinville, beautiful Snoqualmie Falls receives over 1.5 million visitors annually. The falls are virtually on the main road and parking is well-signed. Once you’re out of the car, the falls themselves are about a five-minute walk away. There are three viewpoints and access to the base of the falls. Salish Lodge and Spa sits at the top of the falls if you feel like a drink with a view.
4. Yakima Canyon Drive
The I-90 East runs between Woodinville and Yakima. The Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway runs between Ellensburg and Yakima. This 25-mile road is State Route 821. The road runs along the river and there are many fantastic views. Allocate some extra time to the drive as you will most likely want to stop and take many photos.
5. Create Your Own Glass Art
Barnard Griffin Winery in the Tri-Cities doesn’t just make great wine. They are also home to DB Studio , run by local artist Deborah Barnard. Head to the studio and make your own fused glass piece. Deborah will supply you with the glass and an extensive range of colorful bits and pieces to make your own piece of glass art.
Once you’ve done with your design, it heads into the kiln, where it bakes for about 12 hours. I made glass coasters and swizzle sticks which I am now using at home. If you’re not interested in making your own, there are plenty of lovely works of glass art available for purchase.
Some great places to eat in Washington
Located in downtown Seattle, Purple has a modern and fun design aesthetic highlighted by its amazing circular wine stairway! The wine stairway is also kind of in the middle of the round bar, which sits at the heart of the restaurant.
The menu is heavy on local and seasonal ingredients. One of the dishes for which they are known is the gorgonzola dates which come with prosciutto, pine nuts, chives and aged balsamic and were a bit of a sensation. Next up was calamari fried in vodka batter followed by baked brie with apricot, caramelized onions, candied walnuts, grapes and house crackers.
For mains, we tried a scallops special and the grilled rib eye with whipped Yukon potato, wilted brussels sprout hash, local mushrooms, apple cider reduction, and smoked bone marrow butter. And we washed it all down with some fantastic Washington State chardonnay.
Tom Douglas operates 17 different restaurants in the Seattle area, and several of them are within a stone’s throw of the wonderful Hotel Andra. Lola is inside the hotel. Serious Pie (pizza) and the wonderful Dahlia Bakery, where I headed for breakfast, are both across the road.
Dahlia is a busy bakery with lots of great takeaway options and counter seating. They are famous for their coconut cream pie, but it was a little early for me for cream, so I ordered a breakfast sandwich with eggs, mushrooms and a truffle sauce. A great little breakfast and the coffee was very good.
Walla Walla Steak Co
This big, bustling restaurant is in the heart of downtown Woodinville and has a great atmosphere. The open kitchen at Walla Walla Steak Co is particularly impressive and I enjoyed seeing the prime rib that I ended up eating being prepared and sliced.
We ate in the high-ceilinged dining room, which was open and modern with booth-style seating. Unsurprisingly the menu is meat focussed, but there are seafood options. We started with some scallops on the half shell with a soy-miso vinaigrette, wasabi aioli and pickled ginger.
Of course, the show stopper was the Alder Wood Smoked Prime Rib. Served with a tasty au jus, horseradish cream, backed potato and broccoli it was perfect. There was no dessert after that.
NB: The original Walla Walla Steak Co is still going strong in Walla Walla.
Heritage serves modern American food using the best seasonal ingredients and is within walking distance from Willows Lodge. I went for brunch and the menu is genuinely a mix of breakfast and lunch items. There are salads, sandwiches (sammies), shareables and brunchables.
I wanted to try their signature dishes so kicked off with the delicious dungeness crab hush puppies that were served with lemon-dill creme fraiche. The portion size was surprisingly reasonable so I decided to try a second specialty – the jar of pie. The glass jar contained key lime curd, graham cracker crumble, toasted meringue and fresh berries and was fantastic.
Barking Frog is the restaurant at Willows Lodge in Woodinville. Working with local farmers and foragers, the innovative menu is an interesting mix of flavors and cooking methods. The dining room has quite a cosy feel with an angled roof, open kitchen plus an open fire at the middle table.
I don’t often mention the bread when I write about restaurants, but the bread selection and seasonal compound butter were outstanding at Barking Frog. I moved on to the poached beets with baby lettuce, pistachio, balsamic and creme fraiche. Next up was the garden gourd (I think this was squash) with greens, miso, fig, pepita soil and sesame tuile.
My “main” was a generous serving of diver scallops with apple, variations of celery and a savory granola crunch. As if all of that wasn’t enough, I was lucky enough to then have breakfast at the Barking Frog the next morning, where the menu was just as good.
I had a particularly tasty deconstructed bagel with the lox, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions and capers all on the side and I must say I preferred putting the bagel together myself. The salmon and bagel itself were particularly good. A great example of high-quality ingredients driving a terrific meal.
Los Hernandez won a James Beard Classics award for their now-famous tamales. This family-run business opened in 1990 and is most well known for its seasonal (mid-April to June) asparagus tamales which trigger queues down the block. I was told by the owner’s daughter that their success is driven by their homemade masa – they even sell the masa on its own (as well as a lot of frozen tamales).
I didn’t visit in asparagus season so instead tried the chicken tamale, which was excellent. The tamales are served with whole rather than refried beans. The family has spent many years perfecting their bean side dish, and it is pretty darn good.
I only ate good meals on my trip to Washington State, but I must say Crafted in Yakima was my favorite meal of the trip. Run by a husband and wife team, Crafted is all about local and the menu is constantly changing.
The restaurant itself has a long bar and two top tables along the side. We had the position of choice, which is the bar stools in front of the kitchen – no screens just live cooking. We kicked off with oysters featuring a strawberry beet mignonette. This was followed by the oh-so-tasty wood-fired beets with apple butter, herbed goat’s cheese and roasted pecans.
I was a bit unsure about the agnolotti pasta with peach ricotta, black pepper mascarpone, grilled peaches and black garlic crumble but it was absolutely delicious. But the highlight of an evening of taste sensations was the dessert. Crafted is known for its smores dessert and we had a prime seat to watch it being prepared, blow torch and all to get those marshmallows the right type of texture.
The smore was then topped with caramel ice cream and three big sticks of chocolate and covered with a glass cone and some smoke. The reveal was very theatrical and my gosh it tasted absolutely amazing and I ate every single crumb.
Cafe 11th Avenue
If you’re really hungry, there can be few better places in the world to visit than Cafe 11th Avenue in Yakima. Open from 7-3 daily, they serve both breakfast and lunch – plus cocktails. The drink for which they are most famous is the Mega Monstrous Mary. Imagine a bloody mary combined with a full hot breakfast in a drink and that is the Mega Monstrous Mary.
The breakfast menu is quite awesome and making a decision is difficult. Particularly as each breakfast item contains multiple elements. I had the pancake breakfast. This was three massive thick pancakes as well as a large plate with a giant homemade hashbrown (which was fantastic), sausages, bacon and eggs. There was enough to feed three people.
Cafe 11th avenue is also quite famous for its gravy which it serves with biscuits. Luckily my colleague ordered this so I could try some and I can confirm that their top secret homemade gravy is quite spectacular.
Frost Me Sweet Bakery
If you’re in Richland and craving something sweet, then Frost Me Sweet Bakery is the place to go. I have never seen such a huge variety of appealing and colorful cupcakes. If you’re after something savory, the lunch menu offers paninis, pastas, wraps, burgers and salads.
We tried some avocado wontons – a first for me but very tasty and then a tasty chicken salad. And if you feel like a specialty coffee after your visit pop across the road to Peacock Coffee Roasting.
Fiction is a full-service restaurant that is part of the J. Bookwalter Winery. There is a large outdoor seating area with a fantastic bar where the high tables feature a thin line of fire, and the inside is cosy and perfect for cooler days.
It’s all about farm-to-table at Fiction, with meat, fish, and greens all sourced locally. I would call the menu modern American with a focus on ingredients. There are several interesting sharing options, pizzas, salads with or without proteins and then a selection of classic mains.
We had heard that the sharing items were particularly impressive. The bacon-wrapped dates were my favourite, stuffed with almonds, rosemary goat’s cheese and a cabernet sauvignon reduction. I had avocado fries for the first time, which surprisingly worked and then some very tasty pork tacos.
Lulu’s is a casual dining craft bar and kitchen on the Columbia River. It has a modern, fun feel with a large bar inside and, of course outdoor dining on the river. The menu is comprehensive, with a broad range of sharing options, tacos, steaks, burgers, sandwiches and a few classic mains.
Again, we focussed on the sharing options as we had heard good things about them. The pig candy is bacon deep-fried with brown sugar and cayenne pepper and as delicious but naughty as it sounds.
The roasted brussel sprouts with candied bacon, onion and a balsamic reduction were the meal’s highlight for me. We also enjoyed the deep-fried zucchini and the tuna tacos.
Drumheller’s at The Lodge
Drumheller’s is the restaurant at The Lodge at Columbia Point. The menu focuses on seasonal ingredients and we kicked off our meal with the fruit and cheese and wine country charcuterie platters.
I had a fantastic vegetarian risotto for my main but admit to food envy as many of my fellow diners ordered the signature duck with blackberry and patchouli. Great food in a wonderful location.
TMACS is a modern, light and bright restaurant on Walla Walla’s Main street with indoor and outdoor seating. I visited for lunch and had a large range of salads, sandwiches and pastas from which to choose. We started with a tasty burrata salad with grilled peaches and heirloom tomatoes.
All of the salads at TMACS can be served with a protein. I went for the butternut squash salad with julienne pears, baby kale, candied walnuts, goat’s cheese and a maple syrup vinaigrette plus grilled shrimp and it was fantastic.
We couldn’t resist ordering the house-cut fries, which come with parmesan cheese and chives on top. I enjoyed everything I ate at TMACs but these were quite amazing and incredibly moorish.
Also located on the lovely Walla Walla main street, Brasserie Four is a French brasserie with both indoor and outdoor seating. We started with some fantastic pate and an outstanding heritage tomato salad. The bouillabaisse I had as my main was brimming over with delicious seafood and almost impossible to finish.
NB: I also heard great things about Saffron but couldn’t get there. If you go, do drop me a line and let me know what it is like.
Walla Walla Bread Company
Locals raved about Walla Walla Bread Company and told me I needed to get there early or else everything would be gone. I followed their advice and headed to Walla Walla Bread Company early one morning and encountered one of the most appealing ranges of pastries and treats I have ever seen.
I was particularly impressed by what I will call croissants plus. They have many croissant-style pastries that come with delicious sounding fillings and toppings. I ordered the red velvet croissant, which featured cream cheese icing on top as well as inside and oh my it was amazing. If you go to Walla Walla, you must visit Walla Walla Bread Company and have a pastry.
Where to Stay in Washington State
Seattle – Hotel Andra
Located in downtown Seattle, Hotel Andra brings Scandinavian style to this charming boutique hotel. The rooms are the perfect balance of style and comfort. My room had a small separate cupboard and even a stool and mirror area perfect for blow drying. The main room was large but still felt cozy. The lighting is warm and soft and all about lamps – there is no overhead lighting.
All of the furniture in the room was high-end but very comfortable. The bathrooms have large blue-grey tiled walk-in showers and Face Stockholm toiletries – a brand I have never seen in hotels before.
Like probably every other guest who has stayed at Hotel Andra, I loved the lobby with its high ceiling and fireplace. It felt so inviting.
Famed Seattle Chef Tom Douglas runs the restaurant at Hotel Andra, Lola. Lola also provides in-room dining options. Or literally across the road, visit two other Tom Douglas restaurants, Serious Pie and the Dahlia Bakery.
Woodinville – Willows Lodge
Willows Lodge is right in the heart of Woodinville. It’s a fantastic location that is perfect for exploring several of the wineries and tasting rooms in the area on foot. It is a very relaxing and cozy hotel. The lobby has a high ceiling and a central open fireplace. Reception is also ready with a glass of wine night and day, which I appreciated – and it was pretty good!
My room was very large and contained, in addition to a king-sized bed, a desk with two chairs, a comfortable chair with footrest, a fireplace that turned on with a switch, and a balcony. I particularly liked the spa-style bathroom. The large tub sat behind a wooden shutter so the bathroom could be opened up entirely. There was also a good-sized walk-in shower.
Willows Lodge is full of lovely touches. I nearly bought one of the soft bathrobes. Delicious local teas in the rooms, as well as a good espresso machine. If you’re hungry, a mini basket can be personalised and brought to your room.
There is a bar and restaurant in the hotel with indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor area has a fire pit. This is in addition to the Barking Frog restaurant. There is a spa, fitness centre, complimentary bicycles, a relaxation pool which is basically a hot tub and an outdoor sauna.
The grounds of the hotel are quite beautiful and well worth a walk. Some areas feel quite Asian in style and there are many different water features, sculptures and some pretty amazing fauna.
Yakima – Hilton Maison
The Hilton Maison Hotel has a great location in the heart of downtown Yakima and covered parking. It’s not really a boutique hotel, but it is located in a building that dates back to 1911. The building was originally a Masonic temple. If you ask very nicely, you may be taken to the very top floor where you’ll see a Masonic temple that has sat untouched since 1911!
My room was very large and simply furnished with everything I needed including a little kitchenette with a sink, coffee machine and microwave. The bed was big and comfortable, there was a separate desk, bathrobes and iron with an ironing table. The room also had several windows across two sides which provided a good amount of natural light.
Hotel Maison also has an on-site fitness centre and a business center. It is adjacent to Ummelina Yakima Valley Spa Retreat if you’re in need of some pampering.
Tri Cities – Richland – The Lodge at Columbia Point
The only four-star hotel in the area, The Lodge has a fantastic location on the Columbia River. It is a decent-sized hotel with 82 rooms, but it has a small hotel feel. The welcoming lobby has a high ceiling, wooden floors and pillars and a view of the lake. Each room is named for a winery or vineyard within Washington State.
I had a riverfront room, and it was huge. My king-sized bed almost looked small and came with a fireplace that could be operated with the touch of a button. The room also contained a 2 1/2 seater couch, coffee table, two additional chairs and a small kitchenette with a sink.
I loved the luxurious spa-style bathroom featuring a round spa bath with its own shutters plus a large walk-in shower. The toiletries brand was Float – I hadn’t heard of them, but the products were good.
Once you’ve luxuriated in your suite, it’s time to enjoy the facilities. The Lodge at Columbia Point has a spa as well as a gym. But best of all is the lovely open-air swimming pool and hot tub with views of the Columbia River. The area also has an outdoor fireplace, so after your swim, you can grab your towel and warm up by the fire.
I’ve already mentioned The Lodge’s restaurant Drumhellers earlier in this article. I also enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Drumhellers, all eaten sitting on the outside terrace with river views. They are known for their buttermilk biscuits for breakfast but I went with the granola, yogurt and berries.
Walla Walla – The Finch
One of the newer hotels in Walla Walla, The Finch was an old-style motel until it received a quirky and modern renovation. The layout of the motel has been maintained, but the interiors have been completely updated.
The lobby section of the hotel is a mix of windows and industrial flooring with comfortable couches and wooden furniture. There is also a kitchen of sorts where guests can enjoy coffee throughout the day.
The rooms are large and simple in layout, with white walls and coral and aqua highlights. Upon entry, rooms have a small desk in case you need to get some work done and then open into a large bedroom. The sink and mirror are actually part of the main room and the separate bathroom has just a toilet and white tiled walk-in shower.
The Finch has a great location just off the Walla Walla main street and plenty of undercover parking.
How to Get to Washington State Wineries
Seattle-Tacoma is the largest airport in Washington State. There is an airport in Walla Walla, but it is small and only has domestic flights. Flights between Walla Walla and Seattle run daily. Oregon’s international airport in Portland is actually closer to Walla Walla than Seattle-Tacoma airport.
Tri-Cities also has a domestic airport, but it has more connections to some of the major US hub airports, including Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas.
The easiest way to get around Washington State wine country is to rent a car.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are most vineyards in Washington?
The majority of vineyards in Washington State are located east of the Cascade Mountains.
What are the largest wineries in Washington State?
Chateau Ste Michelle is the largest winery in Washington State. It is also the oldest winery in the state.
How Many wineries are in Washington state
There are over 1000 wineries in Washington State.
How much do wine tastings cost in Washington State?
There is a wide range of prices for wine tastings or flights at wineries in Washington State and many will waive the tasting price if visitors purchase a certain amount of wine. In general, expect to pay between USD$20 and $30 per tasting per person.
When should I visit Washington Wine country?
The main wine tasting season in Washington State begins in April and runs through to the end of November. Depending on your timing, and global warming, you may be able to visit during the harvest time – this will vary year to year.
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