For the top tasting rooms to visit and wine basics, we looked to Sarah Sheldon, Server and Wine Expert at Bin On The Lake at our wine country hotel in Kirkland, Washington, Woodmark Hotel & Still Spa.
What are some don’t-miss tasting rooms?
There are a number of wineries to visit in Woodinville, Washington, which is just 20 minutes from the Woodmark, or 30 minutes from downtown Seattle. Woodinville features an incredible amount of tasting rooms (over 100) representing every appellation in Washington. Nearly all of the Woodinville wineries grow their grapes in the warm, arid climate of Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley. Here’s a few of our favorites:
Chateau Ste. Michelle is known as Washington’s founding winery known for their easy drinking wines, beautiful grounds and their Summer Concert Series. They have quite a selection of wine and a number of different tiers to choose from. Their whites (especially Riesling) are immensely popular, but they also have wonderful reds. One of the most notable, among many, is the Artist Series Meritage wines. These are bold, Bordeaux-style blends that celebrate the artistry of winemaking. They also are unique because each year, they select an artist to create a special label to commemorate the vintage.
DeLille Cellars, a boutique artisan winery that makes consistently great red wines. They observe the Bordeaux tradition of blending varietals together and are truly experts in their craft. They have a very charming Carriage House Tasting Room in Woodinville, as well as a Maison DeLille Wine Lounge just down the street from the Woodmark.
Novelty Hill and Januik are two independent wineries that share a destination tasting room and production facility in Woodinville under the direction of Mike Januik, one of Washington State’s most acclaimed winemakers. Novelty Hill and Januik offer great wine tastings, outdoor seating, and tasty food options. They are known for their award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as their sleek, modern winery design.
What are the most popular regions in Washington?
The Puget Sound is the only wine region (AVA) West of the Cascade Mountains, and is popular for its central location and proximity to water, namely the Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. There are about 20 wineries in the Puget Sound AVA that produce wine from grapes grown in this area, while the other wineries here produce wine grown from grapes in Eastern Washington. Walla Walla houses many great wines and has become popular with artists and has more business tourism options. The wineries are distributed across 4 main areas of the town, and each area has its own feel, while all contribute to the whole. The Yakima Valley, located in the southern center of the state, has over 40 wineries. You truly can’t go wrong in any of the Washington AVAs, and we would encourage people to tour all of them so that they understand what makes each one unique and different.
Can you share any little-known facts about Washington wines?
We are on the same latitude line as Bordeaux, France. The dry climate & long daylight hours east of the cascades mountains makes for a great area to grow wine.
What are the most important things to consider when tasting?
When tasting a new wine, first consider the color, then the bouquet, and the way it hits your palate. When first sipping, ask yourself ‘Is it high in acid? Tannin? Sugar? How does the wine finish?’