Washington Wine Trail

Columbia Valley vineyards

If you are headed out west this summer, you can’t miss a scenic drive through Washington State’s wine growing region.

Washington is the second largest wine producing state in the United States with over 400 wineries and 30,000 acres of vineyards. The Columbia River meanders along through Eastern Washington, separating Washington from Oregon and providing much needed irrigation to both states. Unlike the saturated, gray weather of Western Washington, Eastern Washington boasts 300 days of sunshine and hot, dry summers. The population drops dramatically in the rural farmlands too. Expect sweeping views of the Columbia River, quaint bed and breakfasts, friendly locals, and great Pacific Northwest cuisine (and fantastic wine, of course).

Map of Washington AVA's. The yellow zone indicates the Columbia Valley.

Although you will find many wonderful wines from the smaller AVA’s of Horse Heaven Hills, Red Mountain and Rattlesnake Hills, your best bet to discover a wide array of wineries is the Columbia Valley. Columbia Valley is the largest wine growing region in Washington. It spans over 11,000,000 acres; 17,000 of which are planted vineyards. Don’t be overwhelmed by the expanse of the Columbia Valley however, as many of the vineyards are within a short drive of each other and located just outside of the Tri-Cities. If you feel like splurging, there are numerous guided wine tours that will tote you and your friends to your favorite wineries without the worry of nominating a designated driver or getting lost on the back roads.

If you don’t have the time to make it over to the East Side of the state, a quick 30 minute drive north of Seattle to Woodinville in the Sammamish River Valley is a great weekend diversion. In Woodinville you will find over 60 wineries, large and small, most located within a 5 mile radius of each other. Since most of the grapes are sourced from the Columbia Valley, you can get a great feel for the wines of the East Side without having to venture too far from civilization.

Must See Columbia Valley Wineries:

K Vintners – The tasting room and winery are located in Walla Walla, but the majority of their grapes are from Columbia Valley. You can’t miss the big K on the barn door as you drive up the driveway. Make sure to visit in summer as they close up their tasting room during the winter months.

Barnard Griffin – Just outside of Tri-Cities off Highway 182, this family owned winery will make you feel right at home. After a tour of the winery be sure to check out the fine art gallery showcasing Deborah Barnard’s glass art.

Milbrandt Vineyards – Located in the small town of Prosser, their tasting room is newly opened in 2008. While the property has been in the family since the 1950’s, their main business was producing grapes solely for other vineyards. In 2006 they started producing their own wine with their own sought-after grapes.

Wines You Are Likely To Sample in the Tasting Rooms:

Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc

Getting there:

Major airlines fly into Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. From there you can hop a short flight to Tri-Cities Regional Airport, or rent a car and take the scenic 3 1/2 hour drive over the Cascade Mountains into Eastern Washington.

Where to Stay:

If you are looking for a historic, laid back town, check out Walla Walla. Sunset Magazine voted Walla Walla’s Main Street, “Best Main Street in the West”. Officially in the Walla Walla AVA, but surrounded by the Columbia Valley. Check out wallawalla.org for lodging information.

Decanted Wines is located at 1418 Pine Ridge Road in Naples, FL. For more information please visit http://www.decantedwines.com.

Posted on August 4, 2010, in Wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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