Here’s how to toast romance on a tasting-room getaway.
DATE NIGHT. Whether it’s an exciting first date complete with butterflies in your stomach or a carefully planned excursion with your spouse to escape from the kids, Woodinville offers a wine-themed getaway just 20 miles from downtown Seattle.
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- Woodinville’s wineries can offer the perfect date
The hardest part will be choosing which of the 130 tasting rooms fit your type of romantic destination. The beauty is that it’s easy to plan a route that includes several wine experiences and ends with a great meal.
Here are a few ideas to turn Woodinville into a vintage experience:
• Avoid the hordes. Woodinville is popular. Hence all the tasting rooms, and traffic can get a little crazy. Go just about any weekend, and good luck finding primo parking. If you’re planning to take a date wine-tasting, avoid the big weekend festivals — perhaps try a weeknight.
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• Ambience. Woodinville is wine country, but, with few exceptions, it doesn’t have the vineyards one finds in, say, the Yakima Valley. This makes it harder to find the ideal spot for an intimate picnic. A cozy substitute, especially on a drizzly day, is fireside sipping. Take advantage of the big fireplaces at Goose Ridge, Chandler Reach, the Alexandria Nicole Cellars club room (which also provides food service) and the Fireside Lounge at Willows Lodge. Novelty Hill-Januik Winery also offers food service at its outdoor fireplace.
• Build tasting around an event. Let’s say you score tickets to a favorite musical act at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Head out to Woodinville a few hours early; hit Fidelitas, Dusted Valley and Sparkman Cellars tasting rooms; catch dinner at Purple Café; then walk down the hill to the concert.
• Eat. Thanks to the wine industry, Woodinville has become a food destination. Restaurants such as The Barking Frog at Willows Lodge, Italianissimo, Purple Café and Tandem Dinner & Wine Bar are great choices for a romantic meal. Sora Sushi was described by one tasting-room manager as the best sushi west of the Cascades. The Commons has understated ambience, delicious food and great coffee. Offering small bites and an intimate setting is Matthews Winery. For a special occasion, plan far enough in advance to get reservations at the legendary Herbfarm, home to splendid nine-course meals and the finest Northwest wine list in the world.
• The granddaddy of them all. Washington’s original destination winery is Chateau Ste. Michelle, our state’s oldest, largest and most popular winery. Before the château was built in 1976, there was no such thing as wine touring in Washington, and virtually nobody had heard of Woodinville. Now 300,000 people a year visit the former estate of logging baron Frederick Stimson. The tasting room and immaculate grounds provide a great location for a date — bring your picnic, buy a bottle of great wine and find a secluded corner for your quiet conversation. With a little luck, you might meet the resident peacocks that roam the property.