Washington is the country's second-largest wine producer, boasting 14 distinct growing regions known as AVAs—American Viticultural Areas—primarily in central and eastern parts of the state. Visiting the beautiful vineyards in Columbia Valley, Walla Walla and other regions is a fantastic experience, but if you can't make the trip you can still sample some of their best wines by touring Seattle's urban wineries.
Starting with the furthest south, Charles Smith Wines Jet City in Georgetown is the largest urban winery on the West Coast. Located in a former Dr. Pepper bottling factory, the sleek two-story venue offers the chance to taste flights of wines from “rockstar winemaker” Charles Smith’s six labels while watching planes take off and land at neighboring Boeing Field.
North of Georgetown, the SoDo district is home to a smattering of tasting rooms. You’ll find the greatest concentration of them at SoDo Urban Works, an unassuming industrial-looking complex that hosts more than half a dozen wineries, including Kerloo Cellars, Latta Wines and Nine Hats Wines. With so many wines to sample, you're going to need something to eat—head to Nine Pies Pizzeria for New York-style slices and pies or Schooner Exact Brewing Co. for fish tacos, burgers and tasty pub fare.
Pioneer Square, the historic neighborhood immediately south of downtown now boasts two tasting rooms. The Estates Wine Room pours wine from three Pacific Northwest vineyards: Double Canyon in Horse Heaven Hills, Washington, Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla Valley, Washington and Archery Summit in Willamette Valley, Oregon. In addition to vineyard-specific tastings, you can also opt for flights with pairings of specially selected epicurean bites from nearby London Plane or a charcuterie and cheese platter. The Estates’ new neighbor on the Square, Walla Walla-based Browne Family Vineyards, opened its stylish space earlier this year. Browne’s portfolio includes a wide range of varietals, but its Cabernets—Franc and Sauvignon—aged 20-plus months on French oak by winemaker John Freeman (a Napa native), are real standouts. The petite tasting room doesn’t serve food, but next-door Intermezzo Carmine is a great option for upscale Italian cuisine after your wine tasting.
On Capitol Hill, Aluel Cellars—the name blends those of owners Alex and Samuel—offers pours of their own old-world-style wines, as well as Bartholomew label wines produced by Aluel's consultant winemaker Bart Fawbush. Pull up a stool and treat yourself to a flight with a chocolate or cheese pairing.
The trail of urban wineries continues north to the Queen Anne neighborhood and Almquist Family Winery. Tucked away along the ship canal, Almquist's 10,000-square-foot facility comprises a working winery and distillery, tasting room and a full-service restaurant. On fine days, seats in the greenhouse and on the patio are the perfect place to share a flight, glass or bottle accompanied by a selection of small plates like Hama Hama oysters, green tea-smoked salmon rillette and Kalua pork sliders.