Just 30 minutes northeast of Seattle, nestled in the Sammamish River Valley, sits Woodinville, a small town with a big impact: it’s home to more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, showcasing Washington’s great variety of vino. While the vines are planted east of the Cascade Mountains, where the weather is favorable for growing the perfect grapes, this side of the mountains is home to both the grand estate of Chateau Ste. Michelle and boutique wineries with stylish tasting rooms.
Most tasting rooms are concentrated in two distinct areas, about 2 miles apart. The first, the Warehouse Winery District, boasts over 50 tasting rooms, while the second, the Hollywood Winery District, has over 40. Executive Director of Woodinville Wine Country Sandra Lee explains that the two areas have distinctive vibes. In the Hollywood District, it’s the place to see and be seen. “There is awesome wine and it’s a really fun experience.” At the Warehouse District, “you’re more apt to walk in and meet a winemaker.” Lee explains that many of the Warehouse District wineries ship their grapes to Woodinville and do their production on-site.
Most tasting rooms keep regular hours, and many will schedule private tastings. There are 14 different American Viticultural Areas in Washington, says Lee, and “they’re all represented here in Woodinville.” In addition, there are more 90 point-plus award-winning vintages here than in any other wine region in the world. “You’re getting such a high quality [of wine] when you come,” says Lee.
Maps of winery locations are available on the Woodinville Wine Country website, but there are also many tour options in the area, including Barrel Wine Tours, Bon Vivant Wine Tours and Butler Wine Tours.
Don’t forget to eat something: There is no shortage of fresh, sophisticated food near the wineries. In fact, try attending one of Covington Cellars' winemaker dinners. Or check out the Barking Frog any day of the week.