Woodinville: Where Washington Pours

Since the opening of Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1976, Woodinville, Washington has been a secret treasure on the savvy wine tourist’s map.

Published: 6/24/2014

Since the opening of Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1976, Woodinville, Washington has been a secret treasure on the savvy wine tourist’s map. It’s located just 30 minutes northeast of Seattle—yet it’s a world apart, a chic little town surrounded by natural beauty in every direction. The southernmost part of Woodinville overlooks the wide and fertile Sammamish Valley, which provides much of the town’s fresh produce and many trails for hiking and cycling. Although there are more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms here, there are few vineyard acres. Most of Washington’s grapes are grown east of the Cascade Mountains. But you will find an amazing array of wines from nearly all of Washington’s 13 AVAs, so you can easily taste the whole state in just a matter of days, while staying within just a few miles.

High Scoring Wines

The latest numbers are very impressive. Of the more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville, 74 have wines that have earned 90-plus point ratings and more than 90 percent have won awards—not just regionally, but internationally—like in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, where the region’s Rieslings, Malbecs, late harvest wines, and more routinely scoop up medals. “I believe that when any of our local wineries receive awards or accolades, it benefits our entire community,” says Mike Stevens, managing partner at Brian Carter Cellars. “We are continually pushing each other to raise the bar for quality even higher. When wine fans around the world talk about great wine producing regions and wine touring destinations, Washington State and Woodinville deserve to be in that conversation.”

Considering that the town of Woodinville covers just 5.6 square miles, it could easily have more medals per square foot than any wine region in the nation! Expect to find an impressive range of wines from Bordeaux blends, aromatic Sauvignon Blancs, and crisp Rieslings, to soft Chardonnays, elegant Cabernet Sauvignons, fruit forward Merlots, cool climate Syrahs, and many more varietals and blends.  

Walking the Districts

Woodinville’s tasting rooms can be found in three distinct districts. The northernmost district is aptly called the Warehouse District. Most of the wineries are located side by side in industrial office parks, with banners, flags, and sandwich boards to let you know they’re open. Currently, there are about 40 wineries in this area. Many are family- owned, working wineries that crush, age, and craft their wines on-site. You can easily park and walk from one tasting room to the next. Less than three miles away, the Hollywood District and West Valley District are home to the two oldest wineries in the state (Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery) and many more wineries and tasting rooms. The Hollywood District offers about 25 wineries within walking distance. Walking and tasting is fun and practical, but Woodinville does have wineries well worth a few minutes car ride. JM Cellars is situated on a wooded hillside known as Bramble Bump. Bring a picnic lunch, take a walk on a trail through the trees, and admire the view along with the award-winning wines.  

Staying to Savor

With more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, you’re going to need more than a day trip to explore this intriguing wine region. Accommodations run the gamut, from intimate bed and breakfasts to top tier hotel chains and sumptuous resorts. Willows Lodge provides luxurious lodging along with two superb restaurants on its property: the highly acclaimed Barking Frog and the famed AAA 5- Diamond Herbfarm Restaurant.  

Learning and Playing

All year round, Woodinville’s event calendar is full with a plethora of special events sponsored by the community as well as the individual wineries. Wine seminars, cooking classes, winemaker dinners, live music—you name it—you’ll find it somewhere within this 5.6 square mile area! Beyond wine, there are more exciting things to do, like hot air ballooning, golfing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and shopping. There’s even an adventure park nearby with zip lines and obstacle courses! When it’s time to chill, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for that too, like the Celebrate Woodinville summer concerts in the park including a daylong festival of music, food, and wine in August; and Chateau Ste. Michelle’s renowned summer concerts from June through September. So come to Woodinville and taste, tour, and discover all that Washington wines have to offer.

For more information, visit woodinvillewinecountry.com

As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2014 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.