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Washington Wine Country Road trip

Hi There,

I am heading to Spokane area for 4th of July weekend - driving south to wine country for the first time.

Any recommendations out there for must taste?

Thank you all in advance!

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  • The Washington State Wine Commission is a great resource (https://www.washingtonwine.org/)

    And the following is an email I sent to a friend last summer looking for recommendations, as well:

    If you are driving from Seattle (or even just want to get out of the city for a day trip), I would suggest a stop in Woodinville, where a lot of wineries have tasting rooms. Highlights here include W.T. Vintners, Sparkman Cellars, and DeLille Cellars. If you make it to either W.T. (Jeff) or Sparkman (Chris), the main people are former restaurant people and amazing to talk to.
     
    In the Columbia Valley proper, there are TONS of options. Just east of Richland is a town called Benton City. You'll be in the heart of the Red Mountain AVA which is mostly known for bigger styles of red dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc, with a small smattering of white wines. There is a small cluster of wineries (maybe a dozen), all close to each other, but the highlights include Hedges Family Estate, Fidelitas, and Col Solare.
     
    Just west of Benton City is Prosser, which is the home to Milbrandt Vineyards and Mercer Wine Estate. Again, red heavy, but you'll see a few more whites here. These are much more of a tasting room experience, as opposed to a winery experience, if that affects any decision making. But the wines are really tasty, either way.
     
    The majority of awesomeness is centered in and around Walla Walla. Just to the west are two of the oldest wineries in Washington: L'Ecole No. 41 and Waterbrook. Personal opinion, I think L'Ecole is making some of the best wine coming out of Washington. Absolute fire. Just east of these two (on the way into Walla Walla) is a unique project called Long Shadows Vintners. They have a different consulting winemaker make each of their wines. But each winemaker is an expert in the wine they are making. I'm not going to do the project justice by explaining it, so check out the website here. South of Walla Walla you'll have Amavi Cellars, Waters Winery, Pepper Bridge Winery, Saviah Cellars, and Va Piano Vineyards. Go any further south from here and you'll be in Oregon. Out in the boondocks to the southeast is a tiny winery called Reynvaan Family Cellars. Nothing really close by, but really spectacular wines. To the east there will be aMaurice and Abeja. In the northeast corner of the city (behind the airport), there is a neighborhood of wineries and breweries highlighted by Buty, Tamarack,and Dunham Cellars. Once you get to the city, there will be tasting rooms for Gramercy Cellars, Seven Hills Winery, Cayuse Winery, and Spring Valley Vineyard.
  • Great list! 

    Lol@ boondocks for Reynvaan. Yes, it’s a gravel road, but I had never thought about it being too far away. I guess perspective is everything. The views just above their property are stunning!!!! 

    Couple of recommendations for Cayuse, but there is no open to the public times to taste there. Buy it on Winebid. 

    Several of these wineries are appointment only. I’d recommend making appointments regardless for an industry tasting. 

    Rotie and Rasa are two more that I’d recommend when in Walla Walla.

    A newcomer that’s killing it is Grosgrain, on the south side. Matt Austin is crafting low ABV, high acid, minimal intervention style Wine. His Lembergey Pet-Nat may be the only one on the west coast. 

    Valdemar Estates is a new investment by the Rioja producer. The building is amazing. You’ll mostly have an opportunity to try their Spanish wines, though, as the WA wines are still being made. 

    El Corazon is a weird diversion from tasting rooms, but does play some, let’s say graphic and sensitive movies on the wall. 

    Sleight of Hand makes a pretty specific sort of Washinton Wine, and is a great place to browse a massive record collection.

    The Walls is right next to Gramercy, so that’s an easy two stop hit. They have the best Chardonnay offering in the valley (WA Chard is a tough category).

    Force Majure and Holocene are great if you find yourself wanting to taste somewhere on the Oregon side while driving around looking at vineyards (and do this! The stone laden vineyards are something to see). 

    Eating in Walla Walla: 

    Saffron is tops for me. So many flavors working in harmony, an intriguing wine and cocktails list, and great service. 

    Hattaway’s on Alder is probably the best service in Walla Walla, crafting southern inspired dishes with local ingredients

    Brasserie 4 is a fantastic French Bistro with a wide wine offering. 

    Passatempo is nuevo-Italian. Jim German is a WA cocktail legend, now holding down the fort at Passatempo. The food is delicious, too. 

    Andrae’s Kitchen is in a gas station, but doesn’t taste like it. Go there for lunch. 

    T-Macs might be closed as they move into a new space, but the meatballs are to die for. If they are closed, to check out Cugini’s in College place for that fix. 

    Taco trucks are everywhere. My fav is Bomb Tacos on the highway just over the Oregon border, but really, everyone has good street tacos (don’t say this locally, as everyone is convinced they know the best place).

    Drinking in Walla Walla:

    The Thief Fine Wine and Beer is the best place to get international wine and a huge beer selection. (Full disclosure: I work here). 

    Passatempo has the best cocktails, but all of the mentioned dining joints have stepped up their games! 

    There are a few cool dive bars in the area. Fat Cats (beer and wine only) is the one closest to downtown. Way out in Umapine is The Water Hole. Here you can have a $1 beer and listen to farmers and vineyard managers lament about their day....starting just after lunch. The Border Tavern is an iconic place that locals like to tell horror stories about. The owner is the friendliest dude I’ve met out here. The Green Lantern and Kelly’s are the two big Pub-style bars to get a burger and a brew. Ming Court has Kareoke on the weekend and draws a crowd of young folks. 

    For Red Mountain area, I’d add Cooper to the list. The Carmenere and Merlot are classic Washington. 

    Get down to the Gorge if possible. The wines are totally different and the drive is stunning. Hi-yu (Master Somm Nate Ready’s place), Cor (this property will take your breath away, and the wines are tasty!!) Idiot’s Grace (go to the winery on the Oregon side if possible), Annalema, and Syncline are the places to stop. If you want a weird natural wine experience, right around the corner from Cor is Klickitat Canyon Winery. 

    Hit me up. I’d love to meet you And let me know if you need more guidance. Jeremy.w.eubanks@gmail.com

Reply
  • Great list! 

    Lol@ boondocks for Reynvaan. Yes, it’s a gravel road, but I had never thought about it being too far away. I guess perspective is everything. The views just above their property are stunning!!!! 

    Couple of recommendations for Cayuse, but there is no open to the public times to taste there. Buy it on Winebid. 

    Several of these wineries are appointment only. I’d recommend making appointments regardless for an industry tasting. 

    Rotie and Rasa are two more that I’d recommend when in Walla Walla.

    A newcomer that’s killing it is Grosgrain, on the south side. Matt Austin is crafting low ABV, high acid, minimal intervention style Wine. His Lembergey Pet-Nat may be the only one on the west coast. 

    Valdemar Estates is a new investment by the Rioja producer. The building is amazing. You’ll mostly have an opportunity to try their Spanish wines, though, as the WA wines are still being made. 

    El Corazon is a weird diversion from tasting rooms, but does play some, let’s say graphic and sensitive movies on the wall. 

    Sleight of Hand makes a pretty specific sort of Washinton Wine, and is a great place to browse a massive record collection.

    The Walls is right next to Gramercy, so that’s an easy two stop hit. They have the best Chardonnay offering in the valley (WA Chard is a tough category).

    Force Majure and Holocene are great if you find yourself wanting to taste somewhere on the Oregon side while driving around looking at vineyards (and do this! The stone laden vineyards are something to see). 

    Eating in Walla Walla: 

    Saffron is tops for me. So many flavors working in harmony, an intriguing wine and cocktails list, and great service. 

    Hattaway’s on Alder is probably the best service in Walla Walla, crafting southern inspired dishes with local ingredients

    Brasserie 4 is a fantastic French Bistro with a wide wine offering. 

    Passatempo is nuevo-Italian. Jim German is a WA cocktail legend, now holding down the fort at Passatempo. The food is delicious, too. 

    Andrae’s Kitchen is in a gas station, but doesn’t taste like it. Go there for lunch. 

    T-Macs might be closed as they move into a new space, but the meatballs are to die for. If they are closed, to check out Cugini’s in College place for that fix. 

    Taco trucks are everywhere. My fav is Bomb Tacos on the highway just over the Oregon border, but really, everyone has good street tacos (don’t say this locally, as everyone is convinced they know the best place).

    Drinking in Walla Walla:

    The Thief Fine Wine and Beer is the best place to get international wine and a huge beer selection. (Full disclosure: I work here). 

    Passatempo has the best cocktails, but all of the mentioned dining joints have stepped up their games! 

    There are a few cool dive bars in the area. Fat Cats (beer and wine only) is the one closest to downtown. Way out in Umapine is The Water Hole. Here you can have a $1 beer and listen to farmers and vineyard managers lament about their day....starting just after lunch. The Border Tavern is an iconic place that locals like to tell horror stories about. The owner is the friendliest dude I’ve met out here. The Green Lantern and Kelly’s are the two big Pub-style bars to get a burger and a brew. Ming Court has Kareoke on the weekend and draws a crowd of young folks. 

    For Red Mountain area, I’d add Cooper to the list. The Carmenere and Merlot are classic Washington. 

    Get down to the Gorge if possible. The wines are totally different and the drive is stunning. Hi-yu (Master Somm Nate Ready’s place), Cor (this property will take your breath away, and the wines are tasty!!) Idiot’s Grace (go to the winery on the Oregon side if possible), Annalema, and Syncline are the places to stop. If you want a weird natural wine experience, right around the corner from Cor is Klickitat Canyon Winery. 

    Hit me up. I’d love to meet you And let me know if you need more guidance. Jeremy.w.eubanks@gmail.com

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