Woodinville is a wine hot spot in Washington state, conveniently set just 20 miles outside of Seattle. While most of the wine-growing happens to the southeast, in places like the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla, a lot of production and pouring happens west of the Cascades in Woodinville. So much, in fact, you could spend weeks there and not hit the same winery twice.
In wine circles, Woodinville doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as the Willamette Valley or Sonoma. But there’s no denying the vast scene here, full of interesting players working to further elevate the already sky-high Pacific Northwest drinks circuit. More than 130 labels strut their stuff here, amid three distinctive districts within the region. Even cooler, tasters gain access to a wildly diverse scene, which showcases work from every corner of Washington State (which has 19 American Viticultural Areas, and counting).
Here are some outfits doing just that, along with a few tips on where to eat and stay when you go. And remember to check in with wineries and tasting rooms beforehand to see if reservations are required or what COVID protocols might be in place.
A classic Washington label, DeLille is a must-visit for any wine enthusiast even remotely close to Woodinville. Three decades of experience has gifted the label a tight grasp on Rhone and Bordeaux varietals especially, made from fruit grown in some of the most lauded vineyards on the west coast. DeLille has a particular interest in the Red Mountain AVA, one of the most fascinating in the American wine game and one to pay close attention to in the future. The three-floor tasting room in Woodinville is architecturally stunning — the perfect backdrop for the brand’s lovely portfolio of wines.
This much-respected outfit’s motto is “with elegance towards excellence,” which pretty much sums things up. It’s a sommelier-led winery, with Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen at the helm. His work is certainly elegant, and it starts with tremendous fruit from the likes of vineyards such as Boushey in the Yakima Valley and some even across the border, like Seven Springs in the Willamette Valley. You can taste the care and passion that goes into the bottle. If you like Rhone-style wines or a good Pinot Noir or Chenin Blanc, this place will impress.
There aren’t nearly enough Black-owned drinks businesses in this country, let alone female-led wineries in Washington. Lashelle is all of the above, turning out delightful pink wine as well as classic reds like Mourvedre, Malbec, and Cab. Vintner Nicole Camp got her start with mead a couple of decades back before studying wine and ultimately opening her Woodinville tasting room on Juneteenth of last year.
Many deem JM Cellars a mandatory visit while in Woodinville, and we can’t argue with that. The setting is remarkable, set up with walking trails that meander through an estate arboretum, along with a fantastic patio and rustic tasting room. Look out for memorable red blends, along with some more experimental fare, like Pinot Noir aged in amphora, Grenache Blanc, and Carménère. Those who can’t can still get a bocce game in while tasting, weather permitting.
Tsillan is actually headquartered in Lake Chelan, a picturesque and up-and-coming wine region in central Washington. It was long orchard country but is increasingly known for its higher-elevation wine offerings. Fortunately, Tsillan has an outpost in Woodinville, where they pour cooler climate wines like Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir. They even turn out some quality sparkling as well as a good Merlot.
Like DeLille, Januik operates out of a squeaky-clean modern facility, with wines as pretty as the surroundings. There are actually two labels at work here (Novelty Hill being the sibling one), meaning visitors get access to a pair of wine lineups. Winemaker Mike Januik has been at it since 1984, taking advantage of close ties with celebrated growers on the warmer, drier side of the state. Look out for excellent vineyard-designate Cabernet Sauvignon as well as smaller lots of Cabernet Franc, Grenache, and more.
There’s a burgeoning spirit and beer scene here too, with places like Woodinville Whiskey Company crafting some quality stuff. For standout beer and cider, pop into Métier Brewing Company. You’ll find things like Belgian Wits and Strawberry Goses on tap in a space that’s become a real civic heartbeat of the Woodinville landscape.
If you’re looking to make a weekend or week of it, there will be a deserved temptation to stay in Seattle. After all, the metropolis is a 20-minute drive away and full of amazing hotels and rentals (including some stellar houseboats). Plus, the Emerald City is home to Canlis, a world-class restaurant with one of the strongest wines lists in the country.
But perhaps you don’t want to deal with traffic or drive much at all since wine is in the picture. For those looking to stay out in the thick of it, we suggest the Willows Lodge for the full-on resort and spa treatment, not to mention quality dining. For a more intimate stay, check out the pastoral Cottage Lake Bed & Breakfast.
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