Summer 2011

Ultimate Wine Guide: Washington Wine Country

Washington is -- by far -- the largest wine region in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, one winery (Columbia Crest) makes more wine than all of New York or Oregon, the Nos. 3 and 4 wine-producing states respectively.

Is bigger better? In Washington's case, more than 700 wineries produce wines from four dozen varieties of grapes, providing plenty of diversity and giving wine lovers the opportunity to explore products from giant producers as well as those crafting just a few hundred cases.

Washington is a stunning wine region to explore. In the state's traditional wine-producing area east of the Cascades, conditions are arid and generally lacking in trees, providing near-perfect conditions for 40,000 acres of wine grapes.

Yet only about half the wineries are near the vineyards, while the rest of the industry is closer to the majority of Washington's population: The Puget Sound region. From there, wineries dot the Interstate 5 corridor from the Columbia River to the Canadian border. And they spread out through the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Peninsula and right to the Pacific Coast.

Yakima Valley

The Yakima Valley is Washington's original wine country. William Bridgman planted wine grapes near Sunnyside in 1917, and Dr. Walt Clore of Washington State University used Prosser as his base when he talked farmers into planting grapes throughout the Columbia Valley in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. In 1983, the federal government made the Yakima Valley the Northwest's first official American Viticultural Area.

Today, the Yakima Valley remains a focal point of the wine industry. With more than 16,000 acres of vineyards in the ground, it grows more than a third of the state's wine grapes. It is a huge area, stretching from Red Mountain in the east to the town of White Swan in the west. Inside the Yakima Valley are three smaller appellations: Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain and the Rattlesnake Hills.

Wineries

Winery regions can basically be broken into two areas (with exeptions): Prosser and the Rattlesnake Hills. Prosser is home to three dozen wineries. A large group is at the Vintners Village on the western end of town, off exit 80 on Interstate 82. These wineries are within walking distance of each other. On exit 82, you will find another grouping, including Alexandria Nicole, Hogue, Kestrel, Mercer and Snoqualmie. Other wineries are scattered in and around Prosser.

The Rattlesnake Hills, in the western part of the Yakima Valley, is home to about 20 wineries in such towns as Zillah, Wapato, Outlook and Granger. Snipes Mountain, which is near Sunnyside, is home to one winery. East of Prosser but before you reach Red Mountain, don't overlook Chandler Reach, a gorgeous Italian-style winery with stunning views.

Though the city of Yakima is not in the Yakima Valley, it is home to a growing wine industry, so take some time to explore that area, too.

Two big wine-touring weekends to put on your calendar are Spring Barrel Tasting in late April and Thanksgiving in Wine Country in late November.

Restaurants

Until recently, the Yakima Valley was a tough place to find a good meal. But Prosser has developed a good restaurant scene in recent years. First on your list should be Wine O'Clock at the Vintners Village. It's inside Bunnell Family Cellar, and the food is stunning. At Desert Wind Winery, chef Frank Magana operates Mojave by Picazo for lunches and dinners.

Lodging

Accommodations are mostly limited to motels, with the Inn at Horse Heaven in Prosser quite convenient to touring the valley. A few B&Bs have sprung up, including the Vintner's Inn at Hinzerling Winery in Prosser.

Other attractions

The Darigold Dairy Fair in Sunnyside is a fun detour where you can see how cheese is made.

More information

Wine Yakima Valley maintains a superb website (wineyakima valley.org), which has an interactive map and tons of information about the valley. The Rattlesnake Hills wineries maintain a separate website (rattlesnakehills.com).

Red Mountain & the Tri-Cities

Red Mountain is Washington's smallest appellation at 4,040 acres, but it's also becoming one of the most important. Not only is Red Mountain the warmest grape-growing area in Washington, but it also has attracted top grape growers and winemakers.

Just to clarify, Red Mountain is neither red nor a mountain, but "Brown Ridge" doesn't sound sexy.

Red Mountain is on the edge of a region known as the Tri-Cities, home to one of the state's largest populations. But you won't find "Tri-Cities" on many maps. Instead, you'll find the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. (To further confuse things, the communities of West Richland, Benton City, Finley and Burbank are considered part of the "Tri-Cities.")

The WSU Tri-Cities campus houses the university's viticulture and enology program. It is in the process of building a wine science center.

Wineries

Red Mountain is a small area and easy to get around. To get to the wineries, take Exit 96 from Interstate 82. Follow the directions to the wineries from there (if you cross the Yakima River, turn around).

Red Mountain wineries can be accessed primarily from Sunset or DeMoss roads. On DeMoss Road, you'll be able to visit Terra Blanca and Oakwood, while Sunset Road leads you to such wineries as Cooper, Kiona, Fidelitas, Blackwood Canyon, Hedges, Hightower and Tapteil. If you want to visit Col Solare (call ahead), backtrack to Highway 224, turn left from Sunset and turn left on Antinori Road.

In the Tri-Cities, you can visit several wineries at once. Bookwalter, Barnard Griffin and Tagaris are neighbors, and Hamilton Cellars and Powers/Badger Mountain aren't far away in south Richland, and other wineries are in north Richland, across the Columbia River in Franklin County and in the Southridge area of Kennewick, along Highway 395.

Restaurants

There are no restaurants on Red Mountain proper, but you'll find plenty of local and chain restaurants in West Richland, Richland, Kennewick and Pasco.

The highlights include Tagaris Winery's on-premise restaurant in south Richland just off Interstate 82 and Picazo 717, which relocated this spring from Prosser to Kennewick's Southridge district. For those looking for brewpubs, Atomic Ale in Richland is well known for its artisan pizzas and Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick has two locations.

Lodging

Red Mountain and the Tri-Cities have a distinct lack of bed & breakfast establishments, but you can find plenty of accommodations from chain hotels and motels in the Tri-Cities. In Kennewick, the locally owned Clover Island Inn provides unmatched views of the river and the magnificently lighted cable bridge.

Other attractions

In the Red Mountain/Tri-City area, many of the outdoor attractions are around the Columbia River. One of the highlights is Columbia River Journeys, which provides jet boat rides up the Columbia to the Hanford Reach National Monument. The area also has about a dozen golf courses to take advantage of the 300 days of sunshine, and more than 23 miles of paths line both sides of the Columbia River.

More information

The Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau (visittri-cities.com) provides extensive information about wine touring.

Walla Walla Valley

In the past decade, no wine region in the Pacific Northwest has gained more global attention than the Walla Walla Valley.

Through the 1970s and '80s, fewer than 10 wineries operated in the Eastern Washington town best known for wheat farming and the state penitentiary. But in the mid-1990s, a few new wineries began to piggyback on the fame of such producers as Leonetti, Woodward Canyon, L'Ecole and Seven Hills. Today, more than 100 wineries call the valley home.

Walla Walla is perhaps nearly as famous for its sweet onions, which are in season during the summer and sold at roadside stands. And the valley is home to three colleges. Walla Walla Community College has a viticulture and enology program that has trained and educated many of the valley's winemakers.

Wineries

In Walla Walla, wineries tend to be clustered together, so planning a wine tour is as simple as deciding where to spend a morning or an entire day.

As you enter the valley from the west, the first two towns you'll drive through will be Touchet and Lowden. Slow down in Lowden because it's home to two of the valley's oldest and finest producers, Woodward Canyon and L'Ecole No. 41. As you continue on Highway 12 toward Walla Walla, a new portion of the highway now bypasses a number of wineries, including Cougar Crest, Reininger and Three Rivers. Getting to these wineries is a simple one-minute detour, so don't overlook them.

In Walla Walla, most of the wineries are clustered either downtown or at the airport.

Downtown, about 30 wineries are within a five-minute drive, and those clustered around Main Street are within walking distance.

Another 30 wineries are east of town, with the majority at the airport, often in World War II-era buildings. They are anchored by such stalwarts as Dunham and Tamarack. Be sure to stop by Le Chateau to check out the 100-foot-wide trompe l'oeil mural that gives the building the look of a Bordeaux chateau.

Head south of town about 10 miles and you'll come upon a group of about 30 wineries, a half-dozen of which are south of the border in the town of Milton-Freewater, Ore. Basel Cellars, with its mansion-like architecture, might be the crown jewel of this area, though you'll also want to visit such wineries as Northstar, Pepper Bridge, Saviah and Dusted Valley. On the Oregon side, don't miss a chance to visit Zerba Cellars, our 2011 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.

Restaurants

Locals can thank the wine industry for the region's abundance of fine dining. Though the recession has taken a toll on Walla Walla restaurants, there is still no shortage of choices. For starters, we recommend Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, Whitehouse-Crawford and the Backstage Bistro.

For breakfast or lunch, head to Olive on Main Street. The Ice Burg is a local favorite for burgers and shakes.

Just west of town is Cugini's, an Italian grocery that cures its own meats and maintains a wide selection of cheeses. Also check out Andrae Bopp's rolling eatery. The chef runs a mobile kitchen that changes locations throughout the valley. Follow him on Facebook to find out where he will be on a given day.

Lodging

The Marcus Whitman in downtown Walla Walla is one of the most famous hotels in Eastern Washington. Built in the 1920s, it found new life a decade ago with a complete refurbishment that brought it back to its past glory. In addition to being the finest hotel in the region, it's also home to The Marc, a great dining experience.

Walla Faces, an unconventional downtown winery, also provides two lodging choices: a downtown hotel on Main Street and guest suites amid vineyards east of town.

The valley also is home to many B&Bs. A favorite for wine travelers is the Inn at Abeja, east of town. There are six suites, and they fill quickly, so make your reservations well in advance.

Other attractions

There is no shortage of things to do in Walla Walla.

Check out the Fort Walla Walla Museum and the Whitman Mission for a big dose of history.

More information

The Walla Walla Wine Alliance (wallawallawine.com) provides maps and directions to wineries. Tourism Walla Walla's website (wallawalla.org) is the best place to go for lodging, food and events. Walla Walla Wine News (wallawallawinenews.com) is an event calendar and blog about the wine industry. And Catie McIntyre Walker is the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman (wallawallawinewoman.com), a blogger and wine merchant.

Spokane

Many continue to wonder what the Lilac City would look like were it not for Expo '74.

Preparations for staging the World's Fair were staggering and it resulted in transforming the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis from a gritty railroad town into an All-American City. Before that, a mother would clutch her child's hand when walking downtown as train trestles and winos were a blight on Spokane's riverfront.

Four decades later, families continue to enjoy the fair's greatest legacy -- Riverfront Park. And across the Spokane River from the IMAX Theatre is a tasting room for two wineries.

Washington's second-largest city (208,916 pop.) serves as home to 17 wineries, and each is family operated.

Wineries

The group has made it easy for wine tourists to get a handle on the area by creating self-guided "trails" associated with a map that can be downloaded from the SWA website.

-- Scenic Bluffs Tour: Arbor Crest, Mountain Dome and Townshend Cellar.

-- Spokane Valley Tour: Knipprath, Latah Creek, Liberty Lake and Nodland.

-- Historic East End & River Falls Tour: Arbor Crest's River Park Square tasting room, Caterina, Lone Canary, Overbluff and Vintage Hills.

-- Historic Downtown and Carnegie Tour: Barili, Barrister, Bridge Press, Emvy, Grand Ronde, Robert Karl and Whitestone.

Restaurants

No other place in Spokane can rival Anthony's combination of regional cuisine, local wines and view of the Spokane Falls. Italian-themed Europa Restaurant and Bakery also supports Spokane vintners, as does Latah Bistro. Luna is well-worth the trek to the edge of the South Hill. Masselow's at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino spotlights local wines at approachable prices. Fondue-focused Melting Pot wins awards for its wine list. Sante' and its charcuterie is a favorite among local winemakers. Scratch, which also has a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene, features a number of Spokane-area wines and half-price bottles on Wednesdays. Wild Sage American Bistro continues to support local wineries.

The Nectar Tasting Room, operated by a wine blogger, pours for five non-member wineries at the corner of Main and Stevens. Small plates are available, and there's live music Friday and Saturday.

Lodging

With the wineries, restaurants, shopping, nearby Spokane Arena and the park, bedding downtown can be a logical choice. Worthy options include the historic Davenport Hotel and boutique inns such as Hotel Lusso, the art deco Montvale Hotel and remodeled Hotel Ruby. Several historic homes in the city have been turned into B&Bs, among the recommended are Muzzy Mansion and Roberts Mansion. Regional and national chains downtown are clustered around Riverfront Park. In Spokane Valley, there's Mirabeau Park Hotel. West of town and near the airport is the luxurious Northern Quest Resort & Casino, operated by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

Other attractions

Riverfront Park features walking trails, the 1909 Looff Carousel, the Spokane Falls SkyRide gondola, the IMAX Theatre and ice skating from October through February. On the South Hill, Manito Park's beautiful grounds include the Japanese Garden, completed in time for the World's Fair. Indian Canyon, with views of the Spokane skyline, is the crown jewel of Spokane's four popular and affordable municipal golf courses (spokanegolf.org). There's a broad network of biking, hiking and walking trails. To get a real feel for Spokane without leaving the car, there's the 32-mile City Drive, which is well-marked and stretches from Riverside State Park to High Drive on the South Hill.

More information

The Spokane Winery Association recently revamped its website: spokanewineries. net. The Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau's site is visitspokane.com. River Park Square provides additional information on downtown at riverparksquare.com.

Columbia Gorge & Horse Heaven Hills

It is rare for wine regions to cross political boundaries, but the Columbia Gorge in Washington and Oregon is an exception.

In the past decade, this region where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade Mountains has gone from simply being one of the most beautiful drives in America to a wonderful wine destination.

The Columbia Gorge can be defined several ways. For touring purposes, we define the Gorge as stretching basically from Hood River, Ore., in the west to Goldendale, Wash., in the east.

We've also added the Horse Heaven Hills to this part of our guide. This Washington appellation is vast in size but home to few wineries.

The Gorge is naturally divided into two parts: Oregon and Washington. To the south, the Oregon side is more developed, thanks to Interstate 84, which provides easy access to Portland. The Washington side is more rural. Each provides equally interesting touring opportunities.

Wineries

Hood River is the fastest-developing town in the Gorge, and it is now home to more than a dozen wineries, including Cathedral Ridge, Naked, Pheasant Valley and The Pines 1852. Cascade Cliffs, a longtime winery in the eastern Gorge, opened a Hood River tasting room this spring. A few miles east of Hood River is The Dalles, where wineries are beginning to set up shop.

Across the Columbia River, most of the action is around the otherwise nondescript town of Lyle, Wash., suddenly a hub for wineries. No fewer than five wineries have set up shop in Lyle, led by Syncline Cellars. Head west on Highway 14 to the towns of Bingen, White Salmon and Underwood to catch another half-dozen producers.

To the east, Cascade Cliffs, Maryhill, and Waving Tree wineries are not far apart on the Washington side of the river. In the past decade, Maryhill has defined itself as one of Washington's top destination wineries. The stellar wines, gorgeous views and 4,000-seat amphitheater make Maryhill a primary stop.

As you travel east on Highway 14, you will soon be in the Horse Heaven Hills. Wineries such as Alexandria Nicole and McKinley Springs maintain tasting rooms, as does famed Champoux Vineyard. And Washington's largest winery, Columbia Crest, has a popular tasting room well to the east. Washington's oldest winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle is planning to open a tasting room at its Canoe Ridge facility.

Restaurants

Your best bets for food are in Hood River, where several chefs are finding a happy home. Leading the way is Celilo Restaurant and Bar under the tutelage of chef/managing partner Ben Stenn. He ran the Sixth Street Bistro, another favorite spot, before focusing his efforts on Celilo. Mark DeResta, executive chef at the Riverside Grill at the Hood River Inn, hired Stenn for Sixth Street Bistro. Stonehedge Gardens & Bistro is owned and operated by Michael Caldwell, author of Varietal Tendencies, a delicious novel set in Oregon wine country.

In a region abundant in great views, there might be none better than that from the dining room inside the Columbia Gorge Hotel, which sits atop a cliff and waterfall overlooking the Columbia River. And the cuisine at this historic property spans from fresh seafood and beef to luscious vegan offerings.

For a great cup of coffee, we suggest Doppio, which is not far from Cascade Cliffs' tasting room in downtown Hood River.

Across the river, the Lyle Hotel is well known for its delicious and regionally inspired dishes. And one of our favorite stops for lunch is Walking Man Brewery in tiny Stevenson, Wash.

Lodging

Hood River tends to dominate the choices for places to stay in the Gorge, starting with the famous Columbia Gorge Hotel, whose history dates back a century. One of Best Western's top West Coast properties is the renovated Hood River Inn.

Many B&Bs have opened in the Gorge, especially around Hood River. Consider Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge for a unique Gorge experience.

On the Washington side, the Skamania Lodge and Lyle Hotel are great choices.

Other attractions

One of the most popular activities in the Gorge is windsurfing. In fact, more than a few wine industry folks have set up shop here to take advantage of the near-constant breeze that makes this sport so popular.

On the eastern end of the Gorge, the Maryhill Museum was built by Sam Hill as a home, but his wife didn't want to live there. Today, it's a museum with an amazing and eclectic collection of art. Nearby, Hill built a replica of Stonehenge as a World War I memorial.

More information

The Columbia Gorge Winegrowers' website (columbiagorgewine.com) is the best source for up-to-date information on wineries. The Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association (crgva.org) focuses on amenities and activities in the Gorge. Columbia Gorge Magazine (columbiagorge.com) also offers a wide array of information.

Wenatchee, Wahluke, Basin

Wenatchee might not be considered "classic" Washington wine industry but, in fact, the state's first two known wineries opened in East Wenatchee and Wenatchee back in the 1870s. Today, the Apple Capital of the World has no plans to change its moniker, but Wenatchee's winery and restaurant scene is growing. To the west into the Cascades, the picturesque town of Leavenworth is attracting tasting rooms to go along with its Bavarian theme that attracts visitors.

The Wahluke Slope is the backbone of the Washington wine industry, thanks to its thousands of acres of vineyards and consistent ability to perfectly ripen grapes. Alas, the region's remoteness has attracted few tasting rooms, and the Slope's only town (Mattawa) is not likely to attract tourism.

The wide swath of land between these two regions and stretching to Canada, known as the Columbia Basin, is beginning to build a wine industry, especially in George, Quincy and Moses Lake.

Wineries

Starting in Leavenworth, you will find about a half-dozen wineries and tasting rooms, led by Kestrel Vintners, which has two other locations in Prosser and Woodinville. Follow the Wenatchee River through Cashmere to Wenatchee and East Wenatchee and you'll find a few more wineries, including Martin-Scott and Fielding Hills, which are across from each other on the Columbia. Saint Laurent is just downriver.

Continue following the Columbia River south and you'll arrive at the crown jewel of wine-touring experiences in Cave B, which overlooks the Columbia near the Gorge Amphitheater (In fact, Cave B's owners created the amphitheater to help sell wine back when they owned Champs de Brionne in the 1980s.)

From here, jump onto Interstate 90 and drop into Moses Lake for stops at Dry Falls Cellars and Kyra. If you want to get into the outer limits of wine country, head north on Highway 17 to the town of Wilbur, home to Whitestone Winery (which also has a tasting room in Spokane). If you have plans to go to the Okanagan Valley from this direction, a handful of wineries have popped up in such towns as Omak and Oroville.

Restaurants

Wenatchee and Leavenworth are home to several good restaurants. Our favorites include Visconti's, an Italian eatery with locations in both cities. Visconti's is a perennial winner in our annual wine list competition. Also in Wenatchee, Chateau Fair le Pont was one of the state's first wineries to open an on-premise restaurant. Cave B near George runs Tendrils at the winery.

Lodging

Leavenworth, being one of the most tourist-friendly towns in Washington, provides many lodging opportunitie. And not to be redundant, but Cave B's inn provides dramatic views, and its Chiwana Village offers 25 luxury yurts.

Other attractions

One of the greatest marvels in the West is the Grand Coulee Dam, which was completed in 1942. Lake Roosevelt, created by the dam, is a favorite spot for boaters. And on most summer evenings, a laser light show is projected on the dam.

More information

The Wenatchee Valley Visitors Bureau (wenatchee valley.org) and the Cascade Valley Wine Country (cascade valleywinecountry.com) are excellent sources of info.

Lake Chelan

Washington's newest wine region is Lake Chelan, a region in the North Cascades that is home to North America's third-deepest lake.

For decades, orchards along the shores of Lake Chelan grew some of the world's best apples and cherries. But the rise of China's apple industry led to a crash in Washington. In a great example of turning lemons into Cabernet, vineyards began to replace orchards in 1998, and nearly 300 acres of vines now dot both shores at the southern end of the lake.

And for decades, Washington residents have spent their summers frolicking in the lake's waters under blue skies, so the communities of Lake Chelan have long understood how to cater to visitors.

In the past decade, visionaries have been building beautiful wineries and creating a destination that has effectively extended Lake Chelan's tourist season from two months to nine. Meanwhile, top winemakers have begun to relocate to Chelan while homegrown producers have quickly improved their skills. In 2009, everything came together when the federal government approved the Lake Chelan AVA.

Wineries

Touring Lake Chelan wine country is simple enough. Either pick the south shore or the north shore. All the wineries are in a 20-mile stretch.

The south shore is highlighted by Tsillan Cellars, an Italian-inspired winery owned by Dr. Robert Jankelson, who envisioned creating a world-class destination. Between the beautiful architecture, on-site restaurant and award-winning wines, he has succeeded. Not far away, Karma Vineyards also sports an on-site restaurant. Tunnel Hill, also nearby, is also home to Sunshine Orchards fruit stand.

On the north shore, the first winery you'll come across is Vin du Lac, our 2010 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year. Owner Larry Lehmbecker not only makes superb wines on a bluff overlooking the southern end of the lake, but he also runs an on-site bistro. Lake Chelan Winery puts on a great barbecue in its vineyard throughout the summer, and sister winery Wapato Point Cellars features the Winemakers Grill, a restaurant that provides white tablecloth service. Be sure to make time to visit Tildio Winery, Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards and Benson Vineyards. The latter rivals Tsillan for architectural and natural beauty.

Not in the Lake Chelan AVA but just a short drive north of town on the Columbia River is Rio Vista Wines, the state's first winery with a boat-accessible tasting room.

Restaurants

In addition to the wineries that have on-site restaurants, Lake Chelan provides a number of dining choices. The Vogue Liquid Lounge downtown offers tasty food and plenty to drink, while the Veranda Grill at Campbell's Resort features Washington's best wine list. For breakfast, head to Blueberry Hills Farm.

Lodging

Lake Chelan offers dozens of choices for places to stay, from high-end resorts to budget motels. With 170 rooms facing the lake and more than 1,000 feet of sandy beach, Campbell's Resort is the quintessential Chelan experience. And on the north shore in the town of Manson, Wapato Point is a resort on a spit that sticks into the lake that provides plenty of amenities.

Other attractions

The big attraction here is, well, the lake. That's the focus of most visitors staying here in July and August. To get the most out of Lake Chelan, you can take the three-hour boat ride from Lake Chelan to Stehekin on the north end of the lake (and another three hours back after a 90-minute layover). Prefer to see the region from the air? Check out Chelan Seaplanes. Golfers will enjoy the challenging Bear Mountain Ranch, high above the lake's south shore.

More information

The Lake Chelan Wine Growers Association (lakechelanwinevalley.com) keeps up to date on winery hours and events. The Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce (lakechelan.com) provides listings of restaurants, lodging and activities.

Woodinville/Seattle

While you'll find wineries scattered throughout Western Washington, Woodinville, east of Seattle, has become the center of winemaking in Western Washington. What started with Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1976 has grown into more than 80 wineries and tasting rooms in close proximity.

Wineries

From I-405, take exit 20 to NE 124th Street, then turn north onto Highway 202 and start making some choices among the wineries clustered around Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia. A short drive away is the warehouse district, which includes dozens of tasting rooms mostly within walking distance.

In Seattle, check out The Tasting Room at the Pike Place Market. A more recent addition to Seattle is Urban Enoteca on First Avenue South, while the Library Lounge offers small plates in addition to the wine.

Restaurants

Isn't this the year you check off The Herbfarm in Woodinville from your bucket list? Also in the Woodinville area, check out the Barking Frog, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Italianissimo and The Twisted Cafe.

In Seattle, the choices are even more numerous, in the Pike Place Market neighborhood, check out The Pink Door, Chez Shea, Matt's in the Market and Steelhead Diner. Also in Seattle look for the Waterfront Seafood Grill, Icon Grill, Poco Wine Room, Smash Wine Bar, Portfolio, Place Pigalle, Canlis, Lark and El Gaucho.

Lodging

In Woodinville, your best lodging choice is Willows Lodge, next to Columbia Winery. Several chain hotels and motels are not far away.

In Seattle, consider the Fairmont Olympic, Sorrento Hotel, The Roosevelt Hotel, the Inn at the Market, the Edgewater Hotel, Hotel Deca and, if you're saving your cash for wine and dinner, the Green Tortoise Hostel.

Other attractions

Near Woodinville, you can walk or bike the 10-mile Sammish River Trail between Blyth Park in Bothell and Marymoor Park in Redmond.

Teatro ZinZanni offers a Tom Douglas multi-course meal with a cabaret-inspired show under a vintage circus tent.

Everybody goes, but that's no reason not to stroll the Pike Place Market. Then continue your walk along the waterfront to Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park.

Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill offers expansive views of Seattle's skyline. Also check out The Elliott Bay Book Co.'s new Capitol Hill location. It moved from its funky Pioneer Square home but kept that distinct scent of old books.

The rest of Western Washington

As we said, you'll find wineries scattered throughout Western Washington. Here are some recommendations, by region:

Whatcom and Skagit counties: This is rich agricultural land situated between the Salish Sea and the North Cascades. Mount Baker Vineyards along the Mount Baker Highway makes a fine destination. Other wineries include Legoe Bay on Lummi Island, and Dakota Creek and Glacial Lake Missoula Wine Co. in Blaine. Restaurants that make the most of the valley's bounty include the Oyster Creek Inn, clinging to a hairpin curve along Chuckanut Drive and benefiting from its next-door neighbor, Tayor Shellfish Farm; and the Rhododendron Cafe in Bow. The Ridge Wine Bar offers a Northwest-and-beyond wine list as well as small plates and live music in downtown Bellingham.

Olympic Peninsula: The Northern Olympic Peninsula along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, offers several wineries, including Harbinger, Camaraderie Cellars, Olympic Cellars and its Working Girl wines, Sorensen Cellars, FairWinds Winery, Wind Rose Cellars and Finnriver Farm and Cidery. Farther south along the southern end of Hood Canal is Walter Dacon. Bella Italia restaurant in Port Angeles features Walla Walla and other Northwest wines on its list.

Washington Coast: Westport Winery in Aberdeen earned Wine Press Northwest's 2011 Winery to Watch designation. Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips proves a restaurant in a small town can have a great wine list.

San Juan Islands: Two fine reasons to visit the San Juans: Lopez Island Winery on Lopez and San Juan Vineyards in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Restaurants with Northwest wine lists include Coho Restaurant and Bluff at Friday Harbor House in Friday Harbor and the Duck Soup Inn on Roche Harbor Road on San Juan Island.

This story was originally published June 15, 2011 12:00 AM.

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