Washington State or Oregon?

My wife and I are planning a 5-6 day trip to wine country some time this upcoming spring. Neither of us have been have ever been to either Washington State or Oregon. The main purpose of this trip is to visit small wineries to both purchase wine now and get aquatinted with the wineries for future purchase.
Does anyone have any recommendations to wine country and or AVA to visit? Our main passion is Pinot and Syrah.
Along the same lines, how do most people plan their trips? Where do you go about starting to pick which wineries to visit?



While I haven’t been to either, my understanding is that Oregon (Willamette) is easier to get to and closer to a major city, where Washington (Colombia) is harder to get to and farther separated from a major city. Either state has its charms, it’s just which charm fits your style.

Partially true about Washington.

If you want to go to wineries where grapes are grown, then yes, you’ll need to travel to Eastern Washington. From Seattle, you can get to the Yakima valley in about 2.5 hours and to Walla Walla in about 4.

However, just 30 minutes NE of downtown Seattle is a town called Woodinville that has over 90 wineries/tasting rooms. You’ve got big guys like Columbia and Chateau Ste Michelle. Power names like Betz, Mark Ryan, DeLile, Baer and up & comers like Patterson, Lauren Ashton, Guardian, Gorman, etc. Quite a few of the places are based in areas like Yakima and Walla Walla, but have tasting rooms in Woodinville to capitalize on the folks who can make it to Seattle, but can’t take the trip to the country. Check out woodinvillewinecountry.com.

Honestly, if you have 5-6 days, do both. From Seattle, you can be in Newberg, OR (heart of Willamette) in about 3.5 hours.

If you prefer Pinot - Oregon…
If you prefer Syrah / Cab - Washington.

If you really like/require meeting the winemakers/ owners - better chances in Oregon vs the tasting rooms in Woodinville (different if u can go to Yakima/WallaWalla).

Both places has its charms indeed… we go to Oregon regularly, and live in Woodinville.

A couple points of clarification. First, Newberg is not in the heart of wine country. Newberg is an impediment to getting to Wine Country. You need to get to Carlton or McMinnville (or up in the hills around Dundee) to really be in Wine Country, both of which are another 20-30 minutes down the road. Second, 3.5 hours only happens if there is no traffic, which means you’re travelling early or late on a Saturday or Sunday, or in the middle of the night during the work week.

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I’ve been to Walla Walla and really enjoy tasting there and would highly r;ecommend it. It can be a PITA to get to, but you may want to look into flying into Pasco (Tri-cities) and driving from there. I think it is 45 minutes away. I am lucky and have a direct flight from Minneapolis to Pasco. A few different airlines fly into there, so you may get lucky and have good flight.

With that said, Walla Walla is a great place to taste and am looking to get back there in late October.


If you have five or six days, you can do key parts of OR and WA without feeling rushed.
Let’s say you fly into Portland and wake up there on a saturday morning. Spend two full days exploring the WV and then drive four hours through the Columbia Gorge to Walla Walla, Wa. Spend two full days there and then drive back to Portland, maybe spending one day in the Columbia Gorge AVA, spending the night in Hood River, OR.
Then fly home.
You can make it even easier no yourself cutting out Walla Walla and just doing Woodinville and Oregon, but you really should see Walla Walla. Plenty of threads in “wine talk” about specific vineyards, but PM me if you want a more detailed itinerary idea.
FWIW, I’ll be doing a 5 day WV/Walla Walla swing in early 2015.

+1- this is right on. I`d go to Willamette Valley and have some visits already in place beforehand.

Interested in getting the Walla Walla area and Willamette (McMinnville) during perhaps Sept or Oct. Any thoughts about viability of flying in to Pasco on perhaps a Thursday, visiting the Walla Walla area wineries and then driving to McMinnville for a few days and flying out of Portland on a Tuesday? 4 full days, with ability to be in Pasco by roughly 12:30-1pm on Thurs (so might be able to do a little on arrival day). Too short/rushed?

I recognize Sept / Oct is harvest… Is that a bad idea?

Have zero interest in Woodinville.

Here’s kind of what I was thinking:

  • Thurs: Flight, arrive 1pm, visit a winery or two impromtu(?)
  • Friday: Walla Walla area winery visits
  • Saturday: Drive to McMinnville + see Columbia Gorge
  • Sunday / Monday: McMinnville area winery visits
  • Tues: Fly home

Walla Walla does have a small airport, not sure how the schedule/routes compare to pasco. The area around the airport has a bunch of wineries too- (aptly named airport district)

Only other add is that columbia gorge seems quite the opposite direction as mcminnville

Yes just realizing that the area marked Columbia River Gorge national scenic area on my Google Maps is actually along the Hood. Go figure.

So I guess the question is whether that drive from Walla Walla towards Portland is a nice one worth doing a bit of exploring along the way.

Definitely better off flying into Seattle and visiting the AK Grill again :wink:

The drive along the Columbia River Gorge is fantastic and worth going. Unless you are dead set on visiting Walla Walla, I’d fly in/out of Portland and either spend all the time in the Willamette or spend one day in Hood River (~1 hr from PDX airport) and taste at the many wineries around there (Analemma, Loop de Loop, Syncline, etc) then head to the Willamette Valley. Less driving and less rushed, but still great scenery and wineries.

Harvest time will present challenges and will limit your ability to visit some wineries, especially the smaller ones, but those with dedicated tasting rooms should still be available.

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Shows my ignorance as I always think of the washington gorge in central wa.

Some good beer and bbq in Hood River, too. Hope you’re not wind averse…

Trip with wife, so looking to do somewhere we’ve not been, but thinking I may also have a Seattle work visit this fall as well, so will definitely give you a heads up if that firms up!

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