As summer starts to fade, enjoy lazy August days of wine-tasting — or plan for the fall crush season — in Walla Walla, Washington. After a (roughly) five-hour road trip from the Seattle area to Walla Walla, find yourself immersed in six wine districts amid lush Blue Mountain and vineyard views.
The Walla Walla AVA feels European but only crosses state lines. Ancient lava and flooding scoured the region’s landscape, leaving behind rich, layered soil perfect for cultivating grapes. The area is a red wine lover’s dream — top varieties include cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot, with white grapes only 5% of the viticulture.
As you approach from the Tri-Cities, you’ll first come upon the Westside Wine District. Popular destinations include L’Ecole No 41, housed inside a 1915 schoolhouse, the picnic spots at the Woodward Canyon Winery (established in 1981 and the Valley’s second), and Waterbrook Winery and Kitchen‘s tasting room and pondside patio for appetizers, sides, sandwiches and burgers.
Closer to downtown Walla Walla, Foundry Vineyards curates art alongside grapes — check the calendar for yoga, estate vineyard tours and exhibit openings. To accompany your wine, stop by Cugini Italian Imports and Deli, which serves authentic, fresh-made deli goods, imported pasta and sauces, and take-and-bake lasagna, meatballs and other frozen options.
Downtown Walla Walla wineries
Walla Walla’s historic downtown lays out more than 30 wine rooms, all within walking distance of shopping, restaurants and several hotels (including The Finch and The Marcus Whitman) clustered along and near Main Street. Many wineries even deliver to hotels.
Downtown wineries of note include the women-owned Dama Wines and the comprehensive array at Gard Vintners and Browne Family Vineyards, including many white wines. Seven Hills Winery was one of the region’s first estates, and a converted auto-repair warehouse is now the House of Smith Walla Walla Tasting Room. Retired NFL player (and hometown hero) Drew Bledsoe founded Bledsoe Family Winery, a comfortable spot with rich leather seating.
But of course, you can also enjoy a serendipitous experience, walking from one parklet-adjoining winery to another, enjoying a glass as you go.
Just east of downtown, wine fans flock to the Airport District to find tasting rooms inside quaint hangars, light industrial buildings and mess halls. Among them are up-and-coming options like the rosé-exclusive Smak Wines in the Port of Walla Walla’s Winery Incubator Program, as well as more established labels including Dunham Cellars, Adamant Cellars and SYZYGY.
To remain on theme, stay overnight at Eritage Resort just north of Walla Walla, surrounded by vineyards and wheat fields, with rooms positioned for perfect sunset views from 22 luxury suites. Two suites incorporate kitchens and spacious living areas, and self-contained bungalows provide extra privacy with small patios overlooking the bright blue Lake Sienna, teeming with frogs, dragonflies and flitting birds. Overnight stays include a generous made-to-order breakfast. Borrow one of the resort’s bikes to pedal through the adjoining vineyards, then pop into the restaurant for the crushed results — wine made from the same vineyards. Complimentary paddle boards and kayaks are available to guests, and an on-site pool rounds out the resort’s joys.
Southside wine district
Save one long, lazy day to explore the undulating two-lane roads south of downtown Walla Walla — and many of the region’s most delicious views paired with tasting rooms at 21 wineries, cellars, vineyards and vintners. You’ll glimpse compact vineyards, Blue Mountain, bee-heavy lavender blossoms and pale wheat fields with every turn.
And most turns also take you directly to family-owned, artisanal or unique wineries. Reservations are recommended or required at most tasting rooms, with tastings starting at around $20. That fee may be waived with a wine purchase of a specific amount or more (such as $40).
A song by Heart may greet you upon approaching the ultracool Sleight of Hand Cellars. The newly renovated, modern tasting room boasts hundreds of vinyl albums for sale, and you can select a record to accompany a tasting. T-shirts featuring wine-related twists on rock classics can attest to your “Appetite for Fermentation.”
At Canvasback, find plentiful outdoor seating and a flight of five wines to guide you through the nearby Red Mountain AVA or a “flights and bites” featuring locally sourced seasonal ingredients paired with Red Mountain and Walla Walla Valley AVA wines. Through September, enjoy Canvasback’s “Sunday Suppers,” complete with food and live music.
The family-owned Saviah Cellars’ estate vineyards produce for the winery’s tastings, which you can enjoy along a rotating art exhibit. Dog-friendly outdoor areas include a covered pergola and firepits — enjoy Saviah’s certified sustainable and Salmon Safe wines by the glass or bottle or with a flight.
For an only-in-Walla Walla experience, try the Tuscan-aesthetic Northstar Tasting Room’s Blending Experience to learn the science behind blending. Make a bottle to take home — or reserve a private cabana with a bottle of wine, charcuterie board, warm blankets and lawn games by request.
Walla Walla wineries with dining and entertainment
Just east of town, Abeja offers tastings by reservation amid a lush, charming landscape and a restored century-old farmstead, now an inn with guest rooms and on-site dining. The Kitchen at Abeja takes reservations for its $165/per person five or seven-course prix fixe menu, with add-on Abeja wine pairings at $55 per person.
At Amavi Cellars, find beautiful, panoramic views, with plentiful seating looking out on the cellars’ Pepper Bridge Vineyard estate and the Blue Mountain. Indoor and outdoor seating, a small selection of gourmet foods, and a daily happy hour from 5 — 7 p.m. with pizza, beer and wine available — no reservations required.
Bring picnic blankets and lawn chairs to Tranche Estate‘s sprawling, family-friendly landscape for evening entertainment, a food truck and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Of course, there’s also a tasting room, guided flight tastings, and ATV vineyard tours during regular operating hours by reservation.
Or make a dinner of authentic tapas paired with Washington and Rioja wines at Valdemar Estates. Valdemar serves Spanish cuisine amid a waterfall wall, couches and reflection pool.
Use the Map My WA Wine to find wineries while in Walla Walla. The sheer number of options may seem overwhelming, but most properties are near one another, even in the Southside Wine District. If you think you might visit more than one room, consider booking one of Walla Walla’s many wine touring companies — you can go by bicycle, limo, accessible van, luxury sedan, and, yes, Tesla.
Note: The upcoming Fall Release Weekend runs November 4-6, 2022. Check for other wine-centric Walla Walla events year-round including Walla Walla Restaurant Month, Tour of Walla Walla, Spring Release Weekend and concert and film weekends.
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