If you’re considering a wine tasting trip to the Walla Walla Valley wine region, you can find all the information you need to plan right here. We’ve been wine tasting in Walla Walla for many years and have visited nearly all of the wineries in Walla Walla.
A wine-tasting trip to Walla Walla is both rewarding and educational for wine lovers. It’s a premiere wine growing region in the Columbia Valley, and some really great and high-quality wines are being produced there.
The Walla Walla Valley is one of the top producing AVAs in the state of Washington. It extends into the northeastern part of Oregon and encompasses 486 hectares of planted vines.
You’ll want to spend at least two days in the Walla Walla wine region, to get a good taste of the grapes and the terroir of this region. There are dozens of tasting rooms and wineries to visit. Some are close together, and some are spread across the region.
We’ve included 39 total wineries in our list. There are just so many favorites. Don’t worry though, we’ve narrowed it down even further in each of the areas by including a * next to the ones you absolutely can’t miss.
So Many Walla Walla Wineries, So Little Time
If you’re a wine lover, and you haven’t heard of this area, take note. Not only is there an abundance of amazing wine in Walla Walla, it’s a quaint small town that exudes charm. There are so many wineries in Walla Walla that the region is split into five different areas.
The five regions are Westside, Eastside, Southside, Downtown and Oregon wineries. Each of these separate areas holds more wine tasting possibilities than you could do in a while week’s worth of tasting. We’re talking more than 100 wineries in total. Some areas have over 20 wineries you can visit.
Since this is obviously too many wineries to get to in a weekend, you’re going to have to pick and choose. We recommend choosing one or two areas of town and focusing your attention there. You could also jump from area to area looking for specific varietals you like, but the distance in between will be greater.
However you choose to do it, you’ll surely be overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve created a list of our favorites, to help you decide. In each section, look for the * to indicate which wineries you really shouldn’t miss.
How to Do Wine Tasting in Walla Walla
Before we get into the best wineries to visit, we want to give you a bit of a primer on the area. Walla Walla is a small city, but there’s a lot of ground to cover.
You will need a car to get around to the more distant wineries. If you don’t want to drive, you can go on a guided tour (either group or private), or call the local taxi service and try to arrange rides. If you don’t want to do either of those, then I suggest sticking mostly with the downtown wineries. If you stay nearby (I highly recommend staying at the Marcus Whitman Hotel), you’ll be able to walk to many Walla Walla wine tasting rooms.
You don’t generally need to make appointments to do wine tasting in Walla Walla, with a few exceptions. It’s generally wise to take a look at the winery’s website to make sure it’s open for tasting on the day you wish to visit. In some areas, the wineries are close enough together that if one is closed, it’s not a big deal.
Some of Washington’s most sought-after cult wines come from the Westside Wineries. Back in the 1980s, three popular wineries started it all for Walla Walla. These wineries are Leonetti Cellars, Woodward Canyon and L’Ecole No. 41. Today, these wineries still have some of the area’s best wines.
The westside stretches quite a ways out of town on Highway 12. If you’re going to make the trek out there, you’ll want to stop at a few of the wineries out that way. Most of these wineries are open 10am-5pm every day except major holidays.
Here are the wineries you should visit on the westside.
- *Woodward Canyon – Open since 1981, producing premium, age-worthy, award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay
- *L’Ecole No. 41 – Located in an old school house, L’Ecole produces some of the regions best wines from prestigious vineyards.
- Waterbrook Winery – With more than eighty 90+ scores and 100 Best Buy wines, Waterbrook has some of our favorite every day wines and a lovely tasting room.
- Couger Crest – Award-winning wines from some of the best vineyards in Walla Walla.
- *Long Shadows Vintners – A conglomeration of seven of the world’s most acclaimed winemakers from around the world who have come together to produce ultra-premium wine in Washington.
- Three Rivers Winery – Award wining ultra-premium wines in a beautiful setting.
Woodward Canyon is the furthest out of town. We suggest starting there and working your way back into town. It’s a 15-minute drive to Woodward Canyon, and 30 miles round trip.
Most of the Eastside wineries are located near the airport in WWII-era military buildings that have been converted to warehouse space. The airport wineries now number in the dozens, with even a brewery and a distillery thrown in.
If you can, be sure to visit the first commercial winery in Walla Walla, Leonetti Cellars, opened in 1977. We also highly recommend visiting the Wine Incubator. An innovative way of helping fledgling wineries get started, the Incubator acts as a launching point for new wineries to get their feet on the ground, until they reach the 6-year mark.
Here are the wineries you should visit on the eastside.
- Dunham Cellars – Great selection of wines that are palate pleasing for everyone.
- *aMaurice – Beautiful location at the base of the Blue Mountains, the wine is established and very good.
- *Walla Walla Vintners – The historic Walla Walla Vintners offers wine tastings from their beautiful vineyard estate.
- College Cellars – College Cellars is a teaching winery located at the Center for Enology and Viticulture on the campus of Walla Walla Community College. The wine produced there is fantastic and it’s always good to support the students. The tasting room is closed the first part of the week.
- K Vintners – Opened by Charles Smith in 2001, the wine style featured here is small-lot, single-vineyard varietals.
- Tranche – Beautiful grounds and building plus fantastic wine
Most people stay at a hotel downtown when they visit Walla Walla. There are a number of good hotels, the best of which is The Marcus Whitman Hotel, located right in the middle of town. If your main pursuit is wine tasting, it’s one of the best places to stay.
Here are the tasting rooms you should visit downtown.
Just below the hotel is a handful of tasting rooms that are worth a visit.
- Tero Estates
- Locati Cellars
- Mansion Creek Cellars
Across the street from the hotel on N. 2nd Ave is another stretch of winery tasting rooms you should visit:
- Maison Bleue
- *Spring Valley Vineyards
- Trust Cellars
- g. Cuneo
While you could spend all of your tasting time just on that one street, you’d be remiss not to venture out to other wineries downtown.
- *Charles Smith
- *Otis Kenyon
- *Mark Ryan
- *Browne Family Vineyards
- Henry Earl Estate Wines
Where to Eat in Downtown Walla Walla
Another thing to note about Downtown is that this is where you’ll find pretty much the only food options in the tasting areas. Sometimes a food truck or two will show up in the other areas, but the majority of the restaurants are downtown.
We love to go to Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen for lunch in the middle of our tasting spree for a couple of their delicious tapas. They don’t open until 2pm on the weekends, but it’s well worth the wait.
Other great options for lunch are Brasserie Four, Graze and Public House 124. My sister would want me to tell you about Bacon & Eggs too, so check that out for breakfast or lunch as well. She loves it.
For dinner, you can’t beat Whitehouse-Crawford, in the remodeled 1904 sawmill just a block from The Marcus Whitman. They have a small menu, but that won’t matter because you’ll go there for the wine-paired tasting menu.
As you’re headed out of town toward the Oregon border, you’ll come upon the Southside Wineries. This is my favorite area in Walla Walla for wineries. It’s a bit more of a countryside feeling and the tasting rooms are among the vineyards.
Generally, on the southside, the wine production happens on-site, as opposed to the downtown wineries, so it feels more like an authentic winery experience.
Our favorites in this area are too many to name. Just about anywhere you stop for wine tasting is going to have great wines. If I had to pick only seven (which is the max you can taste through in a day if you’re sharing a glass), I would go to the following southside wineries. (Okay, make it eight!)
- *Northstar – World-class merlot. Absolutely must visit!
- *Pepperbridge – Elegent, highly prestigious wine.
- *Sleight of Hand Cellars
- Revelry Vintners
- Amavi Cellars – I love their Syrah. The tasting is small, but wildly good
- *Basil Cellars
Northstar has the best Merlot around. Their Merlots are consistently top rated (over 90+) from Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate. We like to taste the Walla Walla Valley and the Columbia Valley Merlots side by side to truly see the uniqueness of the Walla Walla Valley grapes. At Northstar, you can also participate in a hands-on blending where you’ll make your own blend to take home.
I highly recommend a stop at Basel Cellars. They sometimes close down for private events, but when they’re open, you’ll want to stop by for a look at the castle-like house that was once a hidden legend in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, where the winery is located.
There aren’t a lot of wineries on the Oregon side of the border, but now that The Rocks AVA has started gaining notoriety, there are more than ever. Some of the Oregon wineries are located just across the border from the Southside Wineries, and you may not even know you’re actually in Oregon.
Here are the wineries to visit in Oregon.
- Castillo de Feliciana
- *Zerba Cellars
- Watermill Winery
- Seven Hill Estate Vineyards
- *Rotie Cellars – Brand new tasting room
- Blue Mountain Cider Company – Not a winery, but still a must-visit. Their cider is fantastic.
If you venture a little farther past Basel Cellars into Milton-Freewater, you’ll find Zerba Cellars located along the highway. Watermill Winery and Blue Mountain Cider Company are in the town center. And Sevel Hills and Rotie Cellars are just a bit further into the countryside.
The abundance of Walla Walla wineries is astounding. I guarantee you won’t run out of great places to taste. We go back at least once or twice a year and rarely taste at the same places twice (except our favorites, of course!). If you’re into wine, even a little bit, you’ll love the Walla Walla wineries. Give it a try.