Wine and tasting are two pretty romantic words, especially when said in the same sentence! Visions of vino paired with charcuterie and friends get us dreaming for a weekend away on the West Coast. For most, this means a trip to Napa or Sonoma, but our favorite spot is a place where the sun shines more than 300 days a year and with wineries dotted across the hillside. Washington is the second largest wine-producing state after California, and is the Northwest’s best-kept secret.
The state’s wine country is made up of the Yakima Valley, Walla Walla, and the Tri-Cities and makes for a great vacation (at a fraction of the California-variety cost).
Source: Platings and Pairings
Nicknamed the Palm Springs of Washington, Yakima cultivates 17,000 acres of wine grapes and supplies half of the state’s production each year. With over 80 local wineries and eight golf courses, the region has something for just about everyone to enjoy. If you’re spending several days in the area, rent a car in order to explore far outside the town.
This house was built in 1910, and has 11 guest rooms that are moderately priced (includes breakfast!). Our favorite part? The dark chocolate almond bite left on the pillow for turndown service. The B&B is also known for their restaurant—it uses local ingredients in their classic dishes but, most impressively, has over 3,000 bottles of wine in their cellar.
For a fine dining experience, enjoy Carousel’s French comfort food—coq au vin and braised duck are delicious, and their specialty is the spinach salad flambé prepared tableside. The restaurant is also known for Sunday brunch and Bloody Mary varieties that will spice up any happy hour.
Trevari specializes in sparkling wines, from dry brut and crisp rosé to sweet Rieslings and even spicy Syrah. Their famous sparkling Brut has been served at State Department dinners and James Beard Foundation events, and is surprisingly affordable at less than $15 a bottle.
Prosser Vintner’s Village
The village’s 32 acres boast 10 tasting rooms, and all accessible on foot, making for a great introduction to the region’s varieties. For a halftime break, stop by Wine O’Clock bistro for a local snack made with herbs from their garden.
Source: Beervana Buzz
Bale Breaker Brewing Company
For those who aren’t fond of the wine train or if you just need a cold brew, you’re in luck! The region also produces 78 percent of the hops grown in the U.S. and Bale Breaker’s award winning IPA is made with hops grown on the property.
Source: Platings and Pairings
Walla Walla has a small town feel and is known not only for high quality wineries, but also amazing restaurants and cozy lodging.
Highway 12 travels east into Walla Walla and has become a hotspot for wineries and tasting rooms. Waterbrook’s patio has great views of their grounds and the Blue Mountains that make for a scenic tasting experience on a sunny day.
Located in a remodeled World War II airplane hanger, Dunham’s is a family owned winery known for their 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was named one of Washington’s best wines by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Source: Walla Walla Vintners
Walla Walla Vintners
This was the first winery in the state, and red wine lovers will love their award winning Cabernet.
The first stop in town for visitors is always Onion World for a Walla Walla Sweet Onion Sausage. The Walsh Family has owned this walk-up stand since 1975 and has become a staple in the community.
Salumiere Cesario Gourmet Grocery
Imagine a walk-in closet, but for cheese. Paradise, right? Salumiere has a unique walk-in closet stocked with artisanal cheeses from around the world that rotates every two weeks.
The Tri-Cities and Columbia Valley sit at the same latitude as the famous Burgundy and Bordeaux regions in France, making the soil conditions and climate in southern Washington perfect for producing wine. There are over 200 wineries in the Tri-Cities area to explore, and the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Science Center also recently opened to share information about the entire winemaking process.
Barnard Griffin Winery
The Barnard Griffin Winery is one of the oldest in the state. Barnard, the founder, grew up near Napa, was exposed to wine making from a young age, and brought his expertise to Washington—he now produces 65,000 cases of wine a year. In addition, this is a tasting room with a twist: The winery doubles as a glass art gallery.
Black Heron Spirits
Joel Tefft, the owner at Black Heron, began as a winemaker when he launched Tufft Cellars in 1991 but he now specializes in spirits including vodka, gin, and whiskey. (Make sure to also ask for a taste of their house Limóncello!)
Source: Finding Beautiful Truth
Pasco Farmers Market
The largest farmers market in the state is located in the heart of Pasco on Wednesday and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon. In addition to fresh fruit and produce, the market also has food trucks and live music that make it a vibrant morning activity.
The Tagaris family puts a Greek twist on wine making, and their winery is a popular hangout for the locals. Taverna Tagaris is an adjacent Mediterranean style restaurant that has picturesque patio seating and serves signature flatbreads that range from shrimp and chorizo to lamb and feta.
Cruises down the Columbia River are a unique experience to take in a view of the city after dark on a historic Sternwheeler. Portland Spirit offers two hour cruises (around $50/per person) and they serve a seasonal menu on board.