Washington Wine Route suggestions?

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Michael O'Brien
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Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#1 Post by Michael O'Brien » February 29th, 2020, 1:12 pm

I have been energetically reading and copying the information from the thread on Washington wineries to visit. I am getting some great information. My question is more about practical routing of a trip to Washington wine country. I am hoping that someone has already made this trip. We will be making the trip in May.

We need to wind up in Spokane but I am trying to decide if flying to Seattle, renting a car, and eventually winding up at our destination in Spokane is worth it from a winery visit standpoint. If we concentrated our trip on the Walla Wallas area, Spokane is about 120 miles closer than Seattle. But would we be missing too many great producers in route from Seattle to Walla Walla. We certainly will visit wineries in the Walla Walla area since there are several very good producers in that AVA.

If you have 4 - 5 days to visit wineries in Washington before winding up in Spokane, would you fly to Seattle or Spokane? How would you optimize your route and which wineries are must visits along the way?

Not asking for much, am I?
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Matt Mauldin
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#2 Post by Matt Mauldin » February 29th, 2020, 10:45 pm

Seattle's such a great city, and it's a nice drive over the Cascades. Plus flights to Seattle will be more direct. I'd fly into Seattle. Walla Walla is a great wine area to visit.

Have a great trip!
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Michael O'Brien
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#3 Post by Michael O'Brien » March 1st, 2020, 10:35 am

Matt Mauldin wrote:
February 29th, 2020, 10:45 pm
Seattle's such a great city, and it's a nice drive over the Cascades. Plus flights to Seattle will be more direct. I'd fly into Seattle. Walla Walla is a great wine area to visit.

Have a great trip!
Thanks. I have been leaning towards flying into Seattle and finishing in Spokane and dropping the rent car there. If I can find a few interesting quality producers in route to Walla Walla, then all the better.
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#4 Post by Matt Mauldin » March 1st, 2020, 10:57 am

Red Mountain AVA is on the way to Walla Walla from Seattle (or not too far out of the way). Definitely good options there.
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Michael O'Brien
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#5 Post by Michael O'Brien » March 2nd, 2020, 2:18 pm

I guess I should wait a while before we go to Seattle. Six deaths and counting from Coronavirus.
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Brandon R
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#6 Post by Brandon R » March 3rd, 2020, 9:00 am

I understand your concern, Michael, and won't attempt to dissuade your cancellation. Assuming you do this trip at some point, I'd recommend flying to Seattle and driving. The important part about driving would be to avoid rush hour in and around Seattle. I'm a big fan of leaving the city core early for trips, or shortly after lunchtime (if a weekday).

I would probably spend a day and night in the Seattle area and hit a handful of South Seattle wineries: Cadence, K Vintners, and several in the same building as Full Pull Wines (Rotie, Structure, Kerloo, Latta). Bartholomew is a new(ish) place doing some great stuff from less widely-used varieties. A natural question would be, "Why not Woodinville wineries?" Many of those wineries have tasting rooms in Walla Walla as well (I know, some of the ones I just mentioned do too) and it's a pretty long drive in the wrong direction for heading to the other side of the state. After Seattle, I would then head East and plan to stay in the Tri Cities (or Posser / Grandview, but those are pretty quiet towns) for a night and tour wineries on Red Mountain. I would then finish the trip with two days in Walla Walla, planning the easy drive up to Spokane the same day as the departure flight.
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#7 Post by Ron Slye » March 4th, 2020, 8:10 am

I agree with Brandon's recommendations, with the caveat that I think it depends on what sort of experience you are seeking. The advantage of the SoDO/South Seattle recommendation is that you can hit a number of wineries in a small area. So if your aim is to maximize the breadth of wines you are tasting, that is a good bet. If on the other hand you want to see the vineyards, try things off the beaten path, then spending time in the Yakima area and the tri-cities on the way out to Walla Walla might be a better bet. Brandon has more knowledge than I do of the tri cities area -- and for Yakiama in particular there is ChrisinCowichie (on Cellartracker) who can give some good advice. I will say that one of the better wines I have had from WA state recently have been the Cabs from JB Neufeld -- I believe you can only taste their wines at their winery in Yakima. They are making a more restrained style of wine that reflects the typicity of the place and grape. Finally, Walla Walla really has the best of both worlds set out above. That is, the downtown area has lots of tasting rooms that you can walk to or a short drive, as well as the ability to head out to the actual vineyards and taste the wines next to the place where the grapes are grown. Finally finally, if you want the largest density of tasting rooms, then Woodinville is the place -- both the more traditional wine tasting area and the warehouse district. But taking in Woodinville is out of your way for Walla Walla, and with a few exceptions most of the best tasting rooms in Woodinville are also in Walla Walla. Enjoy the trip and report back how it went!

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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#8 Post by Michael O'Brien » March 6th, 2020, 1:45 pm

Thanks Brandon and Ron. Your recommendations are allowing me to put some shape to my itinerary and make some decisions. By way of a little background, I have been collecting for over 30 years now and my palate leans old world. That said, I have found a few excellent new world (Quilceda Creek comes to mind) wines, a few of them from Washington. But I know little about the wines of Washington. The objective of the trip is to find and taste wines made by producers that care. When we travel to wine regions, we focus on finding the small to medium-sized producers of outstanding wine. We typically avoid the high volume wineries. Of course, if we like the wine, we will want to purchase some to ship home as well. I am not likely to join a mailing list and absolutely won't join one that requires that I purchase what they want me to purchase (thinking Cayuse here).

What I know is that I can trust the people on this board to have experience and well-tested palates. Your recommendations will help me build an itinerary. Given the circumstances, we will probably put this trip over until things settle down a little. Now to furiously copy some of the recommendations in this thread to an Excel spreadsheet so I can remember them.

Thanks to everyone offering recommendations.
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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#9 Post by Ron Slye » March 6th, 2020, 5:30 pm

Given your description of your palate, let me make some additional suggestions.

On old world style Cab, I would try Rollat -- I have always been impressed with their wines, and my sense is they will age quite well.

As far as smallish wineries that care and are interesting, two come immediately to mind: Time & Direction; and Elephant Seven. Both make reasonably priced wines -- mostly (maybe exclusively?) Rhone style blends. And really great values.

There are many other good wineries. I am sure others will pipe in, and if I think of others I will as well. Also let us know when you are in the region -- if there is time, a few of us could get together and share some nice wine and food!

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Re: Washington Wine Route suggestions?

#10 Post by Michael O'Brien » March 7th, 2020, 1:21 pm

Ron Slye wrote:
March 6th, 2020, 5:30 pm
Given your description of your palate, let me make some additional suggestions.

On old world style Cab, I would try Rollat -- I have always been impressed with their wines, and my sense is they will age quite well.

As far as smallish wineries that care and are interesting, two come immediately to mind: Time & Direction; and Elephant Seven. Both make reasonably priced wines -- mostly (maybe exclusively?) Rhone style blends. And really great values.

There are many other good wineries. I am sure others will pipe in, and if I think of others I will as well. Also let us know when you are in the region -- if there is time, a few of us could get together and share some nice wine and food!
Thanks Ron. Once we set a date, I will start a thread. Given the circumstances, we will probably put off the trip until next year but I am one of those annoying people that plan years in advance.
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