Day Four brought us to Woodinville for wine tasting. The actual vineyards are all in the Eastern part of Washington state, nearer to Walla Walla, which is roughly three hours from the Seattle area. While you can certainly visit the region for tastings if you wish, the wineries wisely opted to locate tasting rooms closer to the main population center. Our hotel, the Willows Lodge, was within walking distance of dozens of tasting rooms. We hit six, which was pushing the envelope a bit.
Close by are two of the states biggest producers, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia, which are names that easily can be found throughout the U.S. We opted for some smaller producers, with some help from my colleague Amy and the hotel concierge. We started at Novelty Hill / Januik, which waived its tasting fee because we were guests at Willows Lodge. The wineries all generally charge $15.00 for a tasting, which is usually waived if you buy something. We had other tasting passes from the concierge as well.
NH/J makes very good wines, but they were almost too generous with the tastings. I think we each sampled eight wines, which is a lot. We bought one bottle that we will have to drink before flying home. They are in their own building, with a large and very modern tasting room. Unfortunately we neglected to take a picture of the interior.
Next we wandered down to what looks like a strip shopping center that is basically wall-to-wall with tasting rooms. It’s just one of several bunches of tasting rooms in the area. You have to pace yourself, but we planned well by making this stop on the day after the Labor Day holiday. It wasn’t crowded, and we were able to chat with the pourers, which is part of the fun.
All the producers we visited were making good wine, but our favorite was Mark Ryan. We are sending a half case of that home. It makes some really luscious Bordeaux style reds. We also visited Fidelitas, Sparkman, Tinte and DeLille. We bought one bottle at Sparkman, a Malbec, and had passes for the other tastings except DeLille. It was the most hard-sell of the places we visited, which kind of turned us off. We paid for the one tasting and called it a day. Next it’s back to Seattle for lunch with my work peeps, then off to the Salish Lodge, which subbed as the hotel seen in the opening of Twin Peaks. Pat will have more to say about that later.