Located just 30 minutes northeast of Seattle, in Woodinville, Washington, there is an exciting wine tasting area where a huge conglomeration of Washington’s best wineries have come together to offer wine tasting in one central location, however far it may be from their actual winery.
Though Woodinville is not a wine region, it has become a central location for vineyards throughout Washington State to have have tasting rooms where they can showcase their wines to Seattle and surrounding residents who may not take the drive to the wine regions where the vineyards are, in Yakima, Prosser and Walla Walla. For city dwellers, this is not only a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Washington wine, it’s a great way to spend a day.
Although the grapes aren’t actually grown in this area, Woodinville is one of the top wine tasting destinations in Washington State, drawing crowds of tourists to more than 100 wineries that have opened tasting rooms in the area. Many of them represent vineyards and wineries in Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys, but some are local, Seattle-area winemakers who are excited to share their passion with the masses.
Spend a Day Wine Tasting in Woodinville
A couple of those wineries, Chateau St. Michelle and Columbia Winery, along with Redhook brewery, have been in Woodinville since long before it was the bustling weekend destination that it has become over the past decade. Just when you think it can’t expand any more, or add any more wineries to the already overloaded map, it gets bigger and better. Alongside the wineries, a few breweries and distilleries have also begun to popup at a quickening pace. Everyone is eager to get on the Woodinville wine route.
Woodinville has three distinct wine tasting areas. The Warehouse district, Hollywood and the West Valley Wine District. Each has its own charm (or lake thereof) and style.
Woodinville Warehouse District
The warehouse district is just as it sounds. It’s a large warehouse area with many low-rise metal warehouse buildings, each with half a dozen winery storefronts. Its best to visit this area with a designated driver and be prepared for a whirlwind of door-to-door tastings.
One cluster of wineries is located at 144th Ave NE and a smaller cluster just off 142nd Ave NE.
Some of our favorites wineries in the Warehouse district are Kestral Vintners, Piccola (we love their piano wine kegerator), Two Vintners and Genoa Cellars. But there are dozens of wineries, and they are all just right next door to each other. Whenever we go there, we try to pick 4-5 wineries we’ve not been to yet, or haven’t been to in a while, and we cap ourselves at those. Otherwise, you could easily visit 8 or 9 in a day and not be able to drive home. Sip and spit. Always remember to be responsible and have a designated driver with you!
The biggest problem with this area is that it’s not near anything, making it difficult to find something to eat in between wineries. In recent years, a few eateries have opened up nearby, like Elemental Hard Cider, that offers pizza.
Hollywood gets its name from the old Hollywood School that sits on one corner of what has blossomed from old strip mall-type storefronts into four quadrants packed to the gills with tasting rooms. On a nice day, you could take up a spot in any of these four areas and have more wineries within a few feet than you could ever visit in one day.
Our favorite wineries in the Hollywood District are (one from each quadrant) J. Bookwalter, Patterson Cellars, Sparkman Cellars and Long Shadows. Food is abundant in this area as well. The Commons Cafe, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar and Vivi Pizzeria are all great choices for a midday refuel. In the busy summer months, it’s best to make an advanced reservation at a restaurant for lunch, then visit 2-3 wineries before and after. Since the wineries are so close together, it’s easy to visit 6 in a day. Check out this Hollywood District winery & brewery tour for more suggestions.
West Valley Wine District
The outlying wineries all fit into the West Valley Wine District. These include some of the best and biggest wineries in the state, like Chateau St. Michelle, which is the oldest and largest winery in Washington, Columbia Winery, Novelty Hill / Januik Winery and JM Cellars. As these are larger wineries, they are better for larger groups and have more room to spread out for a picnic or group event. They also take a little more patience, as getting a spot at the tasting bar is sometimes difficult.
Columbia and Novelty Hill often serve wood fire pizza on the weekends. Hollywood Tavern or Redhook Brewery are good choices for a casual lunch. They have a lot of space and a big menu.
It’s not wine, but we also like to visit Redhook Brewery when we visit Woodinville. They have a very inexpensive beer tour of their facilities. It’s a great deal – something like $5 for the tour and what amounts to a pint of beer, plus you get to keep the glass.
Willows Lodge is the premier hotel in the area and they provide some of the best food in Woodinville as well, with the charming and elegant Barking Frog Restaurant and the uber-expensive, perfect for a special occasion, Herbfarm. If you’re planning to stay a weekend or an overnight in Woodinville, definitely book a room at Willows Lodge. We love it there.
Whether you’re just visiting Seattle and looking for something to do for a day trip, or you living nearby, wine tasting in Woodinville is a great way to spend some time, especially if you’re a wine lover. I highly recommend spending some time there, trying all of what Washington State wine has to offer.
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