Why go to Napa, Italy or Walla Walla, when there is so much to offer West of the Cascades?
The Sammamish River valley is a lush, green, fertile lowland that runs through King County just North East of Seattle. Like many great river valleys, the Columbia, Rhine, Mosel and Rhone to name a few, it has become famous for its wine. Similar to European wine rivers, the Sammamish River valley is also known for its bike trails, green sweeping views and numerous wine tasting rooms. Unlike these places however it’s only a short, 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle, $1,200 plane ticket not required.
As the weather begins to change and the leaves turn orange and red, it’s a wonderful time to get out and enjoy the crisp autumn scents. There are a whopping 130 tasting rooms and wineries to visit in Woodinville. Washington State has an unbelievable range of grape varietals grown from sweet dessert wines to bold, robust dry varieties. The fall harvest season is upon us and with it brings more reasons to come out to enjoy changing leaves and cozy, stone fireplaces while drinking your weight in wine. With these many wineries, you can come every day for months.
Many of the Woodinville wine tasting rooms are actually satellite vineyards from the Columbia Valley wineries. They were nice enough to bring their wines to the main Washington hub, so you don’t need to go so far to enjoy them. Woodinville has so many wine tasting rooms that it is separated into four districts in order to distinguish each region and help tourists to find their way around.
The Hollywood District is known for the landmark Hollywood Schoolhouse. It is no longer a schoolhouse, but currently is a lovely event space rental. The Hollywood and Warehouse Districts have the largest number of tasting rooms.
The Warehouse District has more wineries per square foot than anywhere else in the world! Don’t be fooled by appearances, on the outside it appears just as the name implies, a warehouse district. But, within each door there are intimate, cozy spaces each with its own personality, charm and friendly face pouring wine behind the counter.
The West Valley District is the newest and smallest district with fewer rooms to choose from and a little more space in between. A pretty place to drive, sit outside and not feel rushed to make it to the next space. This district is growing quickly and is the new hot spot for winemakers coming to the valley.
The Downtown District has its fair share of wine tasting rooms smattered around with everyday downtown-y living things like grocery markets and a famous, locally owned, gift and garden store named Molbaks.
Don’t feel left out if you’re a beer or whiskey drinker, there six local breweries, two cideries and four distilleries here in Woodinville as well. Pouring local rum, vodka, whiskey, gin and even absinthe, if the prohibition ever returned the entire city would fall into the ground.
Many of the wineries have their own calendar of events and each has its own charm.
Afterhours Woodinville is an event on September 13th & October 11th in the Hollywood District and September 27th & October 25th in the Warehouse District on Thursdays from 4-8, for $25 a ticket you can taste 14 or more wines from 12 cellars, with a total of 35 cellars participating, it’ll be easy to find a new favorite.
Gorman Winery gives a feeling of a Tuscan countryside villa with its open-air doors, overhead pergola and stone façade. With live music almost, every Friday and Saturday and happy hour prices.
The famous Chateau Ste Michelle made Washington wines what they are today by starting it all. They were the very first winery in the State and are proudly one of the most famous. Come see the beautiful grounds and French style castle hosting September concerts with a very impressive line-up including Lake Street Dive and Lyle Lovett. Check their busy calendar for concert dates, olive oil tastings, wine releases, cheese classes and Oktoberfest for wine lovers to name a few.
Columbia Winery, is another of Woodinville’s most famous, with an impressive façade bold event space complete with wine barrels adorning the walls, large hoop candelabra chandeliers and beautifully manicured gardens. Stop in for live music every Friday night through September and on October 12th.
Although most of the tasting rooms close early around 5:00 p.m., dinner is right around the corner. Not only is Woodinville famous for libations, but where there’s a vibrant wine and beverage scene, dynamic restaurants and local nightlife are sure to follow. Woodinville has over 100 restaurants in every form, specialty and price point concentrated close by, some bringing renowned chefs into town. Have your choice of any cuisine you can imagine from Vietnamese, Indian, taverns, fine dining, bistros, Italian, pizzerias, burgers, sushi or anything else your heart desires.
Plan your visit now for Woodinville wine, catch a fabulous dinner and the tail end of the live music scene for the year. Just don’t forget to take a ride share when you go!