26 Wineries to Visit in Washington and Oregon
With several consecutive warm growing seasons, record-breaking heat, and near-perfect weather conditions, Oregon and Washington wines are on a hot streak.
While most wineries are open to the public for drop-in tastings, many offer elevated experiences that require reservations, and some are strictly by appointment. It’s best to plan well in advance rather than calling the week you arrive. Beyond the tasting rooms, the Pacific Northwest is also an outdoors mecca of hiking, cycling and skiing activities, not to mention a food lovers paradise.
Oregon’s Willamette Valley spans an area more than 100 miles long and 60 miles wide and is home to more than 550 wineries. Its cool-climate makes it an ideal region for growing Pinot Noir, which accounts for most bottlings, with Pinot Gris and Chardonnay close behind. Pinotphiles should mark their calendar each year for the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC), typically held in July. And the big buzz right now hovers around the quaint town of Carlton, where things are on the up and up—in the fall of 2019, Flâneur Wines unveils a hospitality experience in the iconic Carlton Grain Elevator, while Earth & Sea a new restaurant is catering to a fine dining experience. Rideshare options are also becoming more widely available.
Heading north into Walla Walla Valley, this wine region begins in Oregon and extends up into Washington State with a vast array of varying landscapes. Here, you’ll discover a mix of terrifically rich, broad-shouldered Bordeaux-style red blends primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, alongside elegant Syrahs and Rhône-style blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. One annual event that should be on your radar is Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine, which typically takes place in the summer months.
Even Twin Peaks actor Kyle MacLachlan is making wine in Washington, but unfortunately, he hasn’t opened a tasting room yet. These 31 wineries, however, belong at the top of your list, from icons to upstarts. So, get going and plan your visit!
Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery
Back in 1992, Jill and Brian O'Donnell traded valleys, leaving California’s burgeoning Silicon Valley for the quieter Willamette Valley. They purchased a 70-acre ranch and set about planting Pinot Noir. Brian had been bitten by the winemaking bug in California and made his first wine with purchased fruit from longtime friend Rick Moshin of Moshin Vineyards in Healdsburg, California. O’Donnell’s first vineyard in Oregon went in the ground in 1994 and the winery came next in 1996—just in time for their first vintage. Today, they produce roughly 5,000 cases, mostly of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a smattering of “Aromatic Whites” made from Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Muscat.
Belle Pente is situated in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, the appellation itself is shaped like a horseshoe, with vines mostly on the hillsides and the quaint town of Carlton in the center of the shoe. The name Belle Pente (pronounced “bell-pont”) means "beautiful slope." At about 500 feet in elevation, on a clear day, the Eola Amity Hills and the Dundee Hills are visible, as is the region’s famous Van Duzer Corridor (itself now an AVA). Youthful current releases tend to show the power of Willamette Valley Point Noir, loaded with dark berries, ripe blueberry fruit, dark chocolate and incredible florals with grippy, sweet cedary tannins and silken textures.
Appointments available: open to the public Memorial Day and Thanksgiving Weekend; otherwise, by-appointment.
Fee: From the winery website: “We do not charge a fee for these visits, but request a minimum purchase of 3 bottles per person.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-852-9500
In Burgundy, France, the Drouhin family is synonymous with world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under their Maison Joseph Drouhin label. When they set about looking for an American “Grand Cru” to complement their French roots, it was David Lett and David Adelsheim, who, at the very first IPNC in 1987, introduced Robert Drouhin to the property that would become Domaine Drouhin.
Robert’s daughter, Véronique Drouhin-Boss, a fourth-generation Drouhin, had previously worked at Eyrie Vineyard, Bethel Heights, and Adelsheim Vineyard, effectively laying the groundwork. Today, Véronique oversees winemaking while assistant winemaker Aaron Bell maintains the ship when she’s in France. Bell has worked hand-in-hand with Véronique for an astounding 17 years.
You’d never realize it by sight alone, but the winery is four stories high, nestled into a steep hillside, so that production is entirely gravity-flow. The patio is the place to be on a sunny day, overlooking a panoramic view of the Willamette Valley, or guests might hover inside, scoping out the framed menus of White House state dinners which included pairings of Domaine Drouhin wines.
Today, their 225-acre estate boasts 124-acres of planted vines, mostly of Pinot Noir. With the purchase of Rose Rock Vineyard in 2013, production expanded, while farming and winemaking stayed the same—all sites are sustainably farmed and are L.I.V.E. certified. The Domaine Drouhin Estate Pinot Noirs are textural marvels, with complex cedar spices and dark berry fruit and tea-like mocha-tinged tannins that deliver layers of red, black, and blue fruits.
Appointments available: open to the public 7 days a week from 11am-4pm for drop-ins, although booking an appointment in advance is highly encouraged for large groups
Fee: $25-$55 per person depending upon experience; large groups of 8 or more must make reservations in advance.
Contact: 503-864-2700 or email email@example.com
Domaine Nicolas Jay
Some of you will visit Domaine Nicolas-Jay knowing that the co-founder and winemaker is Jean-Nicolas Meo of Burgundy’s famous Domaine Meo-Camuzet—producers of Grand Cru Burgundy smack in the heart of the famous Vosne-Romanée village. Others will go because of Jean-Nicolas’ partner, Jay Boberg—the music mogul who as the former President of MCA/Universal Records helped launch the likes of R.E.M., The Go-Go’s, Blink-182, Mary J. Blige, Sublime, The Roots and B.B. King. But the real stars of the show are the Pinot Noirs drawn from several premier Willamette Valley vineyards, including their own estate site called Bishop Creek in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.
Guests visit their 100-year-old Dundee House, which is open to small groups by appointment, and boasts a comfortable, warm living and dining-room space with maps of Burgundy and the Willamette Valley gracing the walls. The experience is casual and informative with 4-5 wines poured showcasing a classic earthy style with floral notes bolstered by impeccable minerality and savory spice—you leave as an expert in all things Pinot Noir from Oregon and Burgundy. Guests are invited to explore their 13-acre old-vine Bishop Creek Vineyard. Associate Winemaker Tracy Kendall will also frequently attend and host tastings with guests, and those who visit during the harvest season from September to October may have a chance to meet Jay or Jean-Nicolas.
Appointments available: There are no formally closed dates or times—inquire.
Fee: $30 per person (waived with a 6-bottle purchase of wine)
Domaine Serene, owned by Grace and Ken Evenstad, occupies the upper echelon of Oregon’s best wineries, producing exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are so Burgundian-like, you’d be hard-pressed in a blind-tasting to put them definitively in the Old or New World. But you don’t have to blind-taste, you just have to go and take full advantage of everything this magnificent estate has to offer—and there’s plenty.
Their resplendent clubhouse and tasting room is situated at the pinnacle of their estate, high up in the Dundee Hills, and boasts stunning views, with perfectly manicured rows of vines stretching out below over gently rolling slopes. Whether you’re looking for a casual or more formal experience—the options are plenty and guests are invited to sit at expansive tables in one of their elegant hall salons, or enjoy a special experience in their stone-vaulted private caves, modeled after the owners’ recently acquired Chateau in Burgundy. The terrace is second to none, and for those who are frequent visitors, there’s an exclusive Members’ Lounge for those who sign up.
One of their most popular experiences is the 45th Parallel Experience—a culinary and wine pairing ecstasy. Chef Jason Kupper, expertly prepares four dishes to pair with eight wines, which are a mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Domaine Serene and the Evestad’s Château de la Crée in Burgundy. No matter what you do, don’t leave without tasting their flagship wine — the Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir, a rich and robust wine, with dark cherry aromas tinged with sweet spice and cedar, powerful and spicy on entry with juicy sweet dark fruit up front giving way to clove, candied red berry, cinnamon and crunchy acidity.
Appointments available: open daily to the public; Mon-Thurs 11am–4pm; Fri-Sun 11:00-5:00 pm for drop-in experiences; others by appointment only—inquire.
Fee: $20-$125+ per person depending upon experience booked
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-864-6555
This family-owned estate vineyard and winery dates back to 1977, and boasts some pretty gnarly old vines rooted in rolling benches and beautiful hills of Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Bethel are cooling Aeolian winds that funnel in from the Pacific Ocean through the Van Duzer Corridor, keeping temperatures cool, while acids remain firm and lively. The resulting wines are vibrant and distinctly energetic.
Guests who visit Bethel’s sleek and modern tasting room are offered either a seated tasting at one of their bistro tables or at their wine bar. Flights typically include 5 wines and for those curious to peruse, they’ll offer on-the-spot tours (if staffing allows) and are always happy to take guests through their private library and tasting space. Second-generation winemaker Ben Casteel cut his teeth at Rex Hill under Lynn Penner-Ash, working his way up to assistant winemaker. Expect great things in the glass and be sure to ask about their “Beyond the Blocks” tasting experience, which offers up a taste of some exclusive small production wines in their portfolio.
Appointments available: open daily from 11am – 5pm for drop-ins or by private tasting experiences by appointment
Fee: $15-$75+ per person depending upon experience booked
Contact: email@example.com or 503-581-2262
Perhaps one of Willamette’s best kept secrets is Cristom Vineyards. From the beauty of the grounds to the elegance in the wine, a visit here is rejuvenating. Winemaker Steve Doerner (who in the 1990s and early 2000s made wine at Calera in California), and winegrower-owner Tom Gerrie are focused on the brighter, fresher style of Pinot Noir that results from whole-cluster fermentation of berries off four estate vineyards.
At the entrance to the winery tasting room, you’ll pass through a pair of gorgeous, nearly-200-year-old doors that came from a château in Bordeaux. Then, head to the tasting bar or enjoy a casual lounge amidst plenty of furniture on their patio, or opt for a hosted tasting. There are lush green lawns and spectacular gardens surrounding the vineyards with paved brick pathways—perfect for strolling with a glass of wine in hand. Seasonal flights typically includes 5 wines, while private hosted tastings typically include 8 pours. Very frequently, either Steve or Tom make a guest appearance. A private “Cristom Experience” includes a tour, additional wines and small food pairing.
Their Mt. Jefferson Cuvée—brimming with red berry fruit, orange peel and hints of mocha—is the wine everyone is talking about right now, so be sure to ask for it, but don’t rule out trying their scinitalling white Estate Pinot Gris.
Appointments available: open daily from 11am – 5pm for drop-ins while the “Cristom Experience” is private and by appointment only
Fee: $15-$60 per person depending upon experience booked
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-375-3068
Evening Land Vineyards
Two titans of the wine industry—the highly respected sommelier and author Rajat Parr and super-star winemaker Sashi Moorman—are the partners behind Evening Land, which is situated in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The focus here is on exceptionally well-made Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay from their historic Seven Springs Estate Vineyard. Today, some 85 acres of rocky volcanic soils are planted to vines that were first rooted in 1984. Since 2008, the site has been farmed biodynamically, and Seven Springs' unique location, exposure, elevation, and vine age combine to yield benchmark Oregon wines, with each Seven Springs bottling corresponding to a specific block or section of the vineyard.
Their tasting room in Dundee Hills is modern, clean and inviting with a cozy feel and is open to the public daily. All current release Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gamay wines are poured, and occasionally they’ll toss a library selection into the mix. Their Seven Springs Estate Pinot Noir is a staple, while their Summum Chardonnay, plucked from just 14 rows of vines is a real show-stopper. The La Source Pinot Noir is arguably their “must-try” wine, showing off restrained, pure fruit with great finesse that reveals the essence of their Seven Springs site with a liveliness only possibly thanks to the cool and refreshing winds of the Van Duzer corridor.
Enthusiasts will want to book a tour of their Seven Springs Vineyard, which is a 25 minute drive from the tasting room. As your car climbs in elevation, on clear days you can take in breathtaking views of four mountain ranges. You’ll begin seated around a picnic table with a spread of local cheese and charcuterie, and then with glass in hand you’ll trek around the historic site with your host, Tynan Pierce—and possibly, if the stars align on your visit, with Rajat or Sashi.
Appointments available: Tasting room is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Seven Springs Vineyard tours are by appointment only.
Fee: $20-$55 per person depending upon tasting experience; $65 per person for the tour
Contact: email@example.com or 503-538-4110
Keeler Estate Vineyard & Authentique Wine Cellars
Gabrielle and Craig Keeler have turned their 200-acre farm in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA into one of Oregon’s best-kept wine secrets: Keeler Estate Vineyard is a 40-acre organic and Demeter-certified biodynamically farmed site, planted with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. Their working winery and tasting room are surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens, streams, and lakes.
A charming bistro-style tasting room combines modern French and Tuscan accents and various sitting nooks of comfy leather chairs and couches. In winter months, a wood stove makes for a cozy experience, whereas the summer months offer a spectacular open-air tasting room under a set of grove trees, with truly serene views of the surrounding countryside.
Gabrielle and Craig’s son, Nicholas Keeler is a rising star Oregon winemaker in his own right, producing age-worthy Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays under his own Authentique Wine Cellars label with fruit his family’s Estate vineyard—but you’ve got to ask to sample them. Whatever you do, don’t forget to ask. For one, you’ll get to experience different expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay off the same Estate vineyard. For another, it won’t be long before Authentique joins the “cult” category of brilliant wines from Oregon, that are mailing-list only. Ask for the 2016 Authentique Keeler Estate Pinot Noir, which reveals sumptuous smoky sweet paprika, deep berry fruit, candied cinnamon, and a long mineral finish underscored by rich, creamy fruit textures.
Appointments available: open Thu-Sun from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; or Tues and Wed by appointment
Fee: $20 per person (waived with a purchase of $60+ in wine)
Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards
If you’re looking for a serious education on the major players from Oregon, as well as the opportunity to taste some truly classic expressions of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a visit to Lange is a must. If you’re lucky enough to taste with Jesse Lange, manager and winemaker for his family’s eponymous winery, you’ll learn about Eyrie Vineyard’s David Lett, the “Grand Poobah of Oregon Pinot Noir” as well as Dick Erath, and Dick Ponzi.
As for Jesse, he worked at a fly fishing shop in his youth, and if you look closely at the label, you’ll see one of his favorite tackles. Drive slowly along the dirt roads leading to Lange, but just wait—at 750 feet in elevation, a tasting out on the winery’s recently renovated patio offers sweeping views of Willamette and the volcanic snow-capped peak of Mt. Hood. Lange’s parents, Don and Wendy, founded the winery in 1987—his dad was a self-taught guitar player who jammed with Bonnie Raitt, among other notable stars, and made wine on the side. Don had learned from Richard Sanford and Ken Brown and then from Bruce McGuire at Santa Barbara Winery. It was Dick Erath who convinced Don and Wendy to buy a property in the Dundee Hills, and by 1990, the Langes had produced their first vintage of Pinot Noir.
Today, estate vineyards are interplanted with various Pinot clones rooted in volcanic Jory basalt soils 12-20 million years old, “all rusting away,” as Jesse likes to say. The soils look almost powdery, but chunks of pure iron are sprinkled about are incredibly heavy. These soils lend a quintessential spiciness, and crystalline mineral balanced by Willamette’s classic red and blue fruit notes.
In a typical year, Lange produces roughly eight single-vineyard wines and five blends. His Flagship Pinot Noirs are produced from the Freedom Hill vineyard owned by the Dusschee Family—also a source for Ken Wright, Purple Hands, Walter Scott, and St. Innocent. A selection of Lange’s top 30 barrels each vintage, these wines reveal clove and subtle orange peel notes with brambly red berry fruit character marked by anise and cocoa nibs and fine-grained tannins.
Appointments available: open to the public 7 days a week from 11am-5pm; closed major holidays and the last tasting takes place at 4:30pm; parties of 9 or more, call ahead.
Fee: $20-$45 per person depending upon tasting experience—inquire for more details
Contact: 503-538-6547 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Love & Squalor
Winemaker Matt Berson, who has a bent towards both literature and sarcasm, named his stellar Willamette Valley winery after the famous J.D. Salinger story, “For Esme, with Love and Squalor.” As Berson puts it, “passion and poverty are two of the building blocks of any worthy endeavor.” Berson served as the president of the board of directors for IPNC in 2019 and provided a backdrop of hilarity most anytime he donned the microphone. His wines, however, are no laughing matter.
With a current lineup of 12 different wines in their portfolio, they are known for their dry Rieslings. But don’t miss the Love & Squalor Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir ($54) from Eola-Amity Hills. If this was Burgundy, Temperance Hill would be a Grand Cru vineyard. This tiny production wine offers up gorgeous fresh cherry fruit accented by complex layers of chocolate-covered orange peel and mocha spices. They also make white wines, orange wines, and a Gamay Noir and prices range from $20 up to $54.
Their brand new space is Portland sits on a corner street, with windows that open onto the street, making it light and bright. Peer through a glass wall to see wine aging in barrels and check out the Juke Box loaded with classic R&B and “terrible 80s hits” as Berson puts it. There’s a comfy area with tables and chairs, and a small bar to enjoy wines as flights, by the glass or bottle, as well as for takeaway. Light snacks like gourmet popcorn, cheese and charcuterie will be served, and the space may even host the occasional pop-up dining experience.
Appointments available: At their new tasting room opening fall of 2019 at 3201 SE 50th Ave. in Portland, Oregon. NOTE: In the city, not in wine country, and by appointment only at first, then open to the public with regular hours later in the fall. Ask about group tastings with the winemaker in the barrel room.
Fee: $15 per person / waived with a purchase.
Contact: email@example.com or call 503-320-9956
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
Founded by husband and wife duo Lynn and Ron Penner-Ash in 1998, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars has been nothing short of a trailblazer in the Willamette Valley. Lynn is one of the first women winemakers in the region, and last year celebrated her 20th anniversary. Expect exquisite silky-smooth, richly layered vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs from famous sites like Shea Vineyard and Hyland Vineyard, as well as robust Syrahs and bright and energetic Rieslings that come from exceptional sites throughout Willamette’s major AVAs.
The winery is perched atop a hill overlooking the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, with stunning views (dubbed locally as a “Kick-Ash view”) of the valley. In colder months, book a communal “Winter Seated Tasting” and enjoy flights in the warm glow of a fireplace. In warmer months, there are Adirondack chairs—perfect for soaking in the views, and also a patio with picnic tables, which are available to those who become club members, or if you book a private seated tasting. Expect flights to offer 5-6 wines, typically a current-release white or rosé followed by Pinot Noirs. One of the standout wines to try is their “Pas de Nom” Pinot Noir, which means “without a name,” in French, and is a special cuvée made from Lynn’s favorite barrels in a given vintage.
Appointments available: open to the public 7 days a week from 11am-5pm for drop-ins, although booking an appointment in advance is highly encouraged
Fee: $25-$35+ per person depending upon experience booked
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-554-5545
One of the pioneering iconic estates in the Dundee Hills AVA, founders Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser planted their first vines in 1971, eventually built a house on the property, and produced their first vintage in 1977. Today, at the helm are Alison Sokol Blosser as Co-President and CEO and Alex Sokol Blosser, Co-President and second-generation winemaker.
Vineyards are 100% Certified Organic, and tractors are powered by biodiesel while the family can boast of a new LEED-certified barrel cellar. They’ve also recently opened a “Legacy Lounge” offering self-guided tours showcasing the Sokol Blosser family’s 48-year legacy as makers of Oregon wine. There’s a beautiful library, and also a kitchen available for private events, as well as truly elegant private spaces for members. Picnickers may want to grab a “butcher’s board” for light cheese and charcuterie pairings.
In 2013, the tasting room got a serious sleek-upgrade, and the patio offers one of the finest views in Willamette of rolling vineyards cascading down into a sea of Douglas Firs. Taste through flights of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris to Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Blanc—the house style tends to show wines that are light to medium body, with delicate fruit flavors, juicy acidity, and soft tannins.
Appointments available: open to the public 7 days a week from 10am – 4pm for drop-ins, although booking an appointment in advance is highly encouraged
Fee: $20 per person; the “Farm & Forage” dining experience is currently offered at select times Thursday-Sunday at $95 per person—inquire for more details.
Contact: email@example.com or 503-864-2282
Upon arrival at Soter’s Mineral Springs Ranch—a 240-acre property on the edge of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA with only 32 acres under vine—you’re greeted in the parking lot with a glass of rosé. How’s that for a welcome? In cooler months their beautiful lodge is made warm and inviting by a generous, roaring fire. Guests are seated at a long wooden dining table, and you feel more like you’re in someone’s home than in a tasting room.
While learning all about Tony Soter, the founder, and his biodynamic farming regimine, you’ll partake in one of two experiences: Their Classic Tasting is seated, semi-private and features 5 wines poured over about 45 minutes. Or, spend just over an hour and go with the Provisions Tasting experience, which includes 6 wines paired with small plates and bites crafted by their in-house chef.
Their two flagship wines are produced from fruit off their Mineral Springs Vineyard. The 2015 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir is an intense wine, with a velvety mouthfeel and redolent of sassafras, dried raspberry and cocoa. Their 2013 Mineral Springs Brut Rosé is a sparkling wine produced in the Champagne Method. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it offers up lithe red-berry notes and wild herbs, giving way to a creamy palate bursting with cranberry notes tinged with toasted almonds and finishing with a lemon curd note—affectionately called “Soter Pop” by those who have become ardent fans.
Appointments available: open daily by appointment only
Fee: $30 per person for the Classic Tasting; $100 per person for the Provisions Experience
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-662-5600
Lovers of Rhône and Bordeaux-style wines, listen up. Winemaker Chris Peterson cut his teeth under Chris Upchurch at Delille Cellars for eight vintages before being scooped up by Avennia. Translation: these are remarkable wines of exceptional pedigree.
Situated in Woodinville, a sleek and modern tasting room with tons of natural light presents an open layout with a tasting bar at kitchen counter height to feel less like a barrier and to promote conversation. A few high-top tables are for those who want to hunker down and nose every sip.
Two experiences are offered — their Signature and Reserve tasting during which 4 wines and a 3 wines are offered, respectively. Their flagship wines are their Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah and Sestina Left-bank Bordeaux blend. In terms of uniqueness, the Arnaut (pronounced “Are-no”) is made with Syah from Boushey Vineyard, one of Washington’s most famous vineyards. “It is a unique place for Syrah and we cherish our relationship with Dick Boushey. We are the only winery that gets both of his two oldest blocks, so we think this is a singular expression of Syrah in Washington,” says Managing Partner, Marty Taucher.
Ask for their 2014 Avennia “Sestina” Columbia Valley Red, which is packed with sweet spice on the nose with black cherry fruit. The palate is big, bold and rich showing blackberry compote, clove, blue fruit and chalky tannins. Their Arnaut Syrah from Boushey Vineyard is a standout — pretty floral notes and black cherry fruit emerge, powerful and rich on entry with great spice, mineral and incredible purity of fruit. They also produce a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc called Oliane, which is a knock-out.
Appointments available: open daily 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Fee: $15 per person (waived with purchase of $50 in wine or more)
Contact: email@example.com or 425-482-4364
Winemaker Josh Bergström was trained in Burgundy, and today, his family’s eponymous winery crafts terrific single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The whites in particular are some of the best you’ll find in Oregon—they call to mind the kind of elegance you’d expect from Premier Cru white Burgundy, with their chiseled minerality and marvelous acid-cut. No wonder, given the choice grapes they work with from famous vineyards like Shea and Temperance Hill, along with their own Bergström Estate vineyards—all biodynamically farmed.
The different experiences include their “Signature Tasting,” which lasts about 45 minutes and is ideal for those brand new, looking to sample and see just what the house style is all about. Then, there’s an “Enhanced Tasting,” which is perfect for those wanting to dive deep into understanding the life cycles of wine, from vineyard to bottling. This tasting lasts 75-90 minutes and includes a tour of the vineyards, garden, and winemaking facility.
In their Dundee Hills location, which is home to their estate Bergström Vineyard where founders John and Karen Bergstrom established the family winery in 1999, “The Ekollon Experience” is a brand new 90-minute deep-dive into biodynamic farming principles, a special tasting in their salon of limited production and library wines with a total focus on estate vineyards and includes prepared bites from their gardens.
Appointments available: Bergström Wines Tasting Room (Newberg, OR) varies according to the season and is by appointment—inquire.
The Ekollon Experience (Dundee, OR location) offered daily by appointment—inquire.
Fee: $30-$90 per person depending on experience booked.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-554-0468
Charles Smith Jet City Winery
By now, if you’re not familiar with American wine legend Charles Smith, it’s time to book a flight. And he makes it easy since his utterly impressive 32,000-square-foot Jet City tasting room is housed in an old Dr. Pepper plant overlooking Boeing Field airport. So, before or after your flight, drop in for a tasting flight of his many iconic wines. And what does Charles Smith want you to know about his wines? What does he want them to be about? “I want my wines to inspire others in Washington State to follow integrity, sustainability, and non-interventionist winemaking — and if I can do it, that can the stamp for all of Washington State: ‘Real Wines In America,’” is what he told me.
“I never took a class. Don’t have a book about winemaking,” he said. He did enjoy a fruitful music career, sandwiched between working in restaurants and in wineries. “I took everything I knew about wine, which was deep, asked a few questions from a few friends and made my first wine — that was a 1999 Walla Walla Valley Syrah, just 15 barrels,” he said. And today? He makes a lot more wine. You might know his Charles Smith Wines Kung Fu Riesling, or his K Vintners Sixto Chardonnays, unctuous whites with a solid mineral core and great acidity, or his Charles & Charles label with its abstract rendering of the American flag.
Whatever the case, Jet City is a must-see destination, with a modern feel, plenty of space to congregate and views of Boeing Field and Mt. Rainier in one direction and a working winery in the other. Guests can choose from an array of tasting of many different wines.
Appointments available: Open daily—Inquire.
Fee: Tastings start at $10 per person.
Contact: email@example.com or 206-745-7456
Located in Woodinville, Washington, this boutique winery has long been a champion of Bordeaux-style reds and Rhone-style blends from Washington State. Delille is undoubtedly one of the state’s top producers, and that’s all thanks to winemaker Chris Upchurch who has achieved a great deal of critical acclaim with his focus on the Red Mountain AVA and grape sourcing from what he calls “Washington's leading Grand Cru vineyards.”
Most people visit Delille’s Carriage House Tasting Room in Woodinville for tastings where guests can sample 5-7 different wines in a flight, as well as some limited production wines for an extra fee. For a less traditional tasting experience, visit their wine lounge—Maison DeLille in Kirkland, Washington—where you can enjoy wines by the glass or bottle along with flights and a light fare. Their Chateau is a private wedding and event venue with just a few ticketed winery release events open to the public each year.
Three must-try wines are: the D2, a rich and decadent Merlot-dominant Bordeaux-style blend; their Four Flags, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon blended from four select vineyards in the famous Red Mountain AVA that is packed with red and black fruit and baking spice, and Chaleur Blanc, a creamy richly layered white that has a crème brûlée finish and has been a favorite at White House dinners over three administrations.
Appointments available: open daily to the public
Fee: $20-$25+ per person depending upon experience selected
Contact: Visit their site for all locations and contact
If you want to experience the delightfully pure, focused wines of EFESTĒ (pronounced “F S T”), there are two options to choose from. There is the spacious tasting room located in the suburban wine mecca of Woodinville, as well as a city haunt in downtown Seattle’s SoDo district, only a block away from T-Mobile Park. Tastings include six wines from their portfolio, which is at once broad and high quality across the board.
To get a sense of how far the EFESTĒ portfolio extends, try pro-golfer-turned-winemaker Mark Fiore’s stunning Outfield Estate Rosé. Provence-like, this offers crispness, minerality, and fragrant aromas of orange blossom and fresh-picked strawberry. Or, if you’re in the mood for a classic, try the flagship Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon. Named for winery founder Daniel Ferreli’s father, the Big Papa is grown from old vines in Red Mountain and the Columbia Valley and offers the kind of complexity that only mature vines can deliver.
Appointments available: The Woodinville tasting room is open daily from 12pm - 5pm. The Sodo tasting room is also open daily from 12pm - 6pm.
Fee: $15 per person (waived with $30 wine purchase).
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 425 398-7200 for Woodinville, (425) 398-7200 for SoDo
Driving down quiet 13th Avenue in Walla Walla, you could easily miss the tasting room of world-renowned Gramercy Cellars. The signage is minimal—just look for the white, wraparound, fenced-in porch—but the wines are unforgettable.
Greg Harrington, founder and winemaker at Gramercy is more or less a wine prodigy, having passed the Master Sommelier exam at age of 26. He worked in Manhattan at some of the city’s top establishments until a tasting of Washington wines prompted him to drop everything and move west—everything, that is, except for the wrought iron fence of Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, which graces the label of Greg’s wines. His palate and by extension his wines, bridge the gap between the Old and the New World, balancing richness with the elegance and savoriness of classics like those from the Rhône and Bordeaux.
Stop by the inconspicuous tasting room—the inside mirrors the restrained elegance of the wines—to try the Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is intense and powerful yet graceful with supple tannins bracketing rich dark fruit accented by Bordeaux-like graphite, tobacco and espresso grounds. In addition to the remarkable wines, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and hospitable.
Appointments available: The tasting room in Walla Walla is open Saturdays from 11am to 5pm and Tuesday through Friday by appointment—inquire.
Fee: $15 per person (waived with the purchase of a bottle).
Pioneering Washington winemaker Mike Januik’s eponymous winery is located in Seattle’s most oenologically inclined suburb: Woodinville. Home to more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, Woodinville is where much of the Columbia Valley’s greatest fruit gets made into wine. Januik’s winery exists in tandem with Novelty Hill Winery (Januik is winemaker there as well) in what can only be described as one of the hippest, and most sophisticated yet comfortable spots in Woodinville. Guests who visit for a tasting can choose from a list including wines from both wineries or opt for a guided tasting from the knowledgeable staff. Specialty tastings which include seasonal food pairings also available by appointment.
By no means does the experience at Januik end in the tasting room, however. With a glass in hand, you can stroll the catwalk above the winemaking facility, watching the team in action, explore the gardens surrounding the winery, or play a round of bocce (dogs are permitted outside). What you take with you in hand is, of course, an important choice. Mike’s Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon comes highly recommended. The Champoux Vineyard is one of Washington’s great vineyards—a sandy, 175-acre site in the Columbia Valley—and in Mike’s experienced hands its extraordinary fruit is harnessed to its full potential. Think ripe, juicy dark fruit, balanced by the acidity of cool, Columbia Valley nights, all supported by the supple, velvety tannins that have become Washington State’s calling card.
Appointments available: The Woodinville winery facility and tasting room is open daily from 11am - 5pm. Specialty tastings are available by appointment only—inquire.
Fee: Walk-in tastings are $15 per person. Large group tastings (8 or more people) are $25 per person and require a reservation. Specialty tastings including seasonal food pairings are $65 per person.
Contact: To make an appointment visit noveltyhilljanuik.com or call 425-481-5502.
High up on Red Mountain, the tasting room at Kiona Vineyards overlooks the estate vines, which produce some of Washington’s best, and most wallet-friendly, Bordeaux blends. The views are panoramic and the wines are comprehensive—complex, layered, and deep.
When Jim Holmes and John Williams purchased 80 acres on Red Mountain in 1975, most people thought they were crazy. The region was like a desert with blasting sun (two more hours per day than Napa Valley) and very little water (an average of five inches of precipitation annually). But massive diurnal temperature shifts and well-draining, sandy soils proved ideal for grape growing, specifically for Cabernet Sauvignon, and Kiona became a pioneer in what is now recognized as one of the world’s great terroirs.
The tasting room is open daily between noon and 5:00 p.m. and all visits are free with the purchase of a bottle. Try the Red Bordeaux Blend Reserve, a Cabernet dominant blend that punches well above its weight class in terms of value, as well as the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a true Red Mountain classic, offering muscular dark fruit layered with baking spice, cedar, and crushed stones.
Appointments available: The Red Mountain estate is open daily from 12pm - 5pm.
Fee: $15 per person (waived with the purchase of a bottle)
In the 13 years that Andrew Latta has made wine, he’s seen just about every vine that is planted in Washington State. How? He spent a decade making wine for K Vintners and Charles Smith Wines before launching his own Latta Wines. “The vineyards that I work with are what I feel represent ideal pairing of varietal and site,” says Latta, who, when time permits, will host tastings at his winery. Housed in a former Sears & Roebuck receiving warehouse in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle, the space dates back to the 1940s, but has been stripped back to its bones showcasing a contemporary minimal and functional space for casual, friendly, and informal tastings of absolutely delicious wines.
But don’t come here looking for classic Bordeaux varieties. “I don't make a bunch of Cabs and Chards and we are delighted to explain the ‘why?’ of Roussanne and Mourvedre to the masses,” he says, and I’d suggest taking him up on the offer. Tastings typically include flights of 5-7 wines and there isn’t one “must try” as they’re all exciting bottlings. His single-vineyard Grenache gets most of the attention, for its spicy red fruit, power and rusticity while his GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blends from Columbia Valley are show deep colors, earthy and red berry aromas, brimming with sweet black cherry fruit, red berry compote, vanilla, garrigue, and smoky clove, cedar and intense spice notes on the finish. But don’t miss out on the whites either — Latta’s Lawrence Vineyard Roussanne from Columbia Valley delivers aromas of cream, apricots, honeysuckle and candied pairs, is richly textured with tremendous energy and poise.
Appointments available: open Thurs-Sun from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Fee: $15 per person (waived with purchase of wine; complimentary for wine club members)
Contact: email@example.com or 206-466-1336
L’Ecole No 41
Get ready to get educated at L’Ecole—after all, you’re tasting in a century-old schoolhouse. So, think of this as Earth Science class with adult perks (drinking wine). Winemaker Marty Clubb has been instrumental in helping put Walla Walla on the map. Two decades ago, in partnership with Norm McKibben of Pepper Bridge Winery and Gary Figgins of Leonetti Cellar, they expanded one of the regions most iconic sites—Seven Hills Vineyard—from 20 to 200 acres. That site is now the cornerstone of a major expansion called SeVein—a project that is bringing global attention to Walla Walla and is the site of L’Ecole’s Estate Ferguson Vineyard. At the winery, you can examine basalt rocks from Ferguson, or samples of Loess soils from their Estate Seven Hills Vineyard site.
Situated in an old French settlement town just west of Walla Walla, the tasting room is housed upstairs in the original classrooms that held first-, second-, and third-graders. The tasting bar is appropriately finished with a chalkboard surface, and chalk is readily available for relieving math class arithmetic, or showing off your artistic rendition of your best emoji. Tasting flights include pours of 7 wines—typically 3 whites and 4 reds. Their Semillon from Columbia Valley is a richly aromatic white with a generous mouthfeel, grapefruit citrus, creamy peach and dazzling minerality, while the Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah is teeming with crushed purple florals, red berry fruit, tinged with savory and smoky notes, not to be outdone by their Estate Ferguson Cabernet which has energy, tension and focus and is light on its feet with generous black cherry, graphite and new wood cedar.
Appointments available: open daily 10am – 5pm, some tastings by appointment only
Fee: daily wine tasting $10 per person (waived with any purchase of wine); appointment only experiences range from $20-$40 per person and are available April through November.
Contact: 509-525-0940 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pepper Bridge & Amavi Cellars
Both of these wineries share common ownership and the impeccably talented Swiss-born winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet. Before settling in the Pacific Northwest, Pellet spent four years making wine at the famous Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley. Both Pepper Bridge and Amavi Cellars share a tasting room in Woodinville, Washington, and have their own tasting room locations in Walla Walla—within a mile of each other. The reds from each label are decidedly opulent with rich textures and showcase terrific minerality that Pellet expertly coaxes from his estate fruit. The whites tend to be unctuous and packed with citrus and tropical fruit flavors.
The Woodville tasting room is a dual tasting room that offers guests an opportunity to taste both labels in a fun atmosphere located in the Hollywood District — the heart of Woodinville Wine Country. Typical tastings are 4-5 wines per flight. The Walla Walla Pepper Bridge tasting room sits on a hill, nestled in their estate vineyard and boasts a comfortable, warm setting. The Walla Walla Amavi Cellars tasting room has floor to ceiling windows with sweeping views of the Blue Mountains the estate vineyards. Both tasting rooms offer outdoor decks for taking in terrific views between sips.
At Pepper Bridge, in addition to a tour and tasting, by appointment guests can book a food and wine pairing experience, which takes place in their private library. Jean-Francois’ “Trine” is a “must try” which blends together all five estate Bordeaux grapes in every vintage, and is either Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon dominant depending on the year.
Appointments available: open daily to the public and by appointment
Fee: $15-$60 per person depending upon experience selected
Contact: Visit their website for all locations and contact
Seven Hills Winery
Founder and winemaker Casey McClellan is one of Walla Walla’s most respected grower-producers, who alongside his dad, planted the area’s famous Seven Hills Vineyard back in 1982. A visit to Seven Hills is not only casual and fun, it offers up the chance to really dive into the history of winegrowing in the region. So, soak it all in.
Tastings are held in an old woodworking mill called the Whitehouse Crawford building, which is open, light and airy. Flights offer tastes of 3-6 wines, and those looking to fill out their cellar with some aged gems should ask about the library wines available. For a more formal and deep dive into Seven Hills, ask about their newly launched “Food & Wine Experience.”
Because the original plantings in the Seven Hills Vineyard were of Merlot, a must try is the 2014 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot, culled from the original vines that were planted in 1982.
Appointments available: Monday - Saturday, 10am – 5pm // Sunday, 10am - 4pm
Fee: $10-$55 per person depending upon experience selected
Contact: email@example.com or 877-777-7870
When locals talk about the Airport district in Walla Walla, they’re actually referring to a historic, WWII era Army Air Base that has been refurbished and repurposed. Today, it’s home to more than 20 wineries including Tamarack, which takes residence in an old Firehouse. The feel is unpretentious and character-driven, much like the wines. The highly acclaimed Firehouse Red, which has twice been named to Wine Spectator’s “Top 100” list is a must-try, and frankly, worth taking home by the case. It offers densely concentrated red berry fruit, enticing suppleness, and the complexity and balance of a wine with a much higher price tag.
Founded in 1998 by Ron and Jamie Coleman, Tamarack can count itself as one of the pioneering estates in a region that has grown exponentially in the last 20 years. Being the 12th winery to set up shop in Walla Walla has allowed Tamarack to forge strong relationships with the best growers in the area. For a taste of their single-vineyard prowess, try the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Reserve, a tiny production blend of Bordeaux varieties sourced exclusively from Ciel Du Cheval, one of Red Mountain’s greatest sites.
Appointments available: The Tamarack tasting room is open daily from 10am - 5pm and at other hours by appointment only—inquire.
Fee: $10 per person (waived with the purchase of a bottle or membership to wine club)