There’s a growing confidence and vibe to Spokane these days, a verve and sense of optimism reminiscent of the Lilac City’s rebirth surrounding the 1974 World’s Fair.
Among the legacies that stand out is the Great Northern Clocktower, a tribute to the railway that donated the land for Expo ‘74 and modern-day Riverfront Park.
Next year, Spokane and the Inland Northwest return to the national spotlight as home to the 2020 Public Relations Society of America Travel and Tourism Conference. Headquarters will be at the Davenport Grand Hotel on June 7-10, and Visit Spokane officials see the Cork District as a major attraction for the PRSA and its entourage of food and travel writers from across the country.
“This is a pretty prestigious event for us and Spokane,” said Jim van Löben Sels, co-owner and viticulturist of Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. He poured wine in Philadelphia as part of the announcement ceremony earlier this year.
So just how soon can these influentials — or anyone else — be immersed in Spokane’s wine scene?
“Our unique selling proposition is that you can fly into Spokane, touch down, check into your hotel downtown and be tasting wine in 40 minutes,” points out Mike Allen, executive director of the Cork District, the winery alliance he created as a Spokane City Council member in 2015. “There’s a culinary scene here now, and you are within a half hour of almost any recreational thing you want to do.”
Rebecca Gunselman, co-owner of Robert Karl Cellars, said, “We really are a gateway here. If you are a skier or a hiker or a rafter, Spokane International Airport is a great spot to fly into.”
Allen, now a professor of business and entrepreneurship at Spokane Community College, came up with the marketing concept during his six years on the city council. He took a look around at the state’s third largest city and noticed its small footprint in the growing wine industry. He sensed there was a burgeoning wine scene in the urban core of Spokane that was ripe for promotion.
“We had these tasting rooms within walking distance of each other and you can get to hotels, to Riverfront Park, to live theater and shows,” Allen said. “You can go shopping. It was all here.”
The Cork District collaborates with Visit Spokane, hotels, restaurants, Spokane International Airport and Alaska Airlines. The Seattle-based carrier allows mileage plan members to check a case of wine for free when they fly out of Spokane. Before that, if they present their Alaska Airlines boarding pass, they pay no tasting fees in most instances.
“It’s interesting to see folks from Seattle who are visiting relatives in Spokane,” Gunselman said. “The Spokane folks will taste and says, ‘I’ll take two bottles.’ The people from Seattle say, ‘Wow, I’ll take a case!”
Wine lovers and foodies realize Spokane is on the rise, and there’s renewed pride in the city’s past and century-old architecture. This summer, residents of Browne’s Addition just west of downtown voted to tax themselves to create a historic district. Meanwhile, a culture of farm to fork and vine to bottle continues to build.
“We have a nice blend of wineries from Walla Walla and Red Mountain as well as our own home-grown wineries and award-winning chefs now,” Allen said. “It’s a really good mix.”
Each of the Spokane-area wineries offers a different experience. At the core of those are picturesque Arbor Crest, downtown denizens Barrister Winery and Robert Karl and second-generation operations at Latah Creek Wine Cellars and Townshend Cellar. Longtime residents Craig and Vicki Leuthold recently built a showpiece satellite tasting room for their Maryhill Winery that overlooks the Spokane River.
A tipping point for them all, but particularly for downtown Spokane, came in 2002 when the historic Davenport Hotel came back to life after 17 years of darkness, thanks to Walt Worthy’s investment of a reported $38 million. Worthy Hotels Inc., now operates four luxury hotels within the Cork District. Last year, Worthy spent $35 million to buy a 400-room Red Lion property along the Spokane River and across a suspension walking bridge from Riverfront Park. Worthy rebranded it The Centennial Hotel because it is a stone’s throw from the 37-mile Centennial Trail.
“Our community owes Walt Worthy a great bit of gratitude for restoring the Historic Davenport and doing it right,” Allen said. “It’s funny that he’s morphed from this office baron to a hotel baron. Each one of his hotels has its own look and feel. The Doubletree at the Riverfront Park is a fantastic location, too.”
There now are 14 tasting rooms in the downtown core, with six more in the suburbs. Research indicates the average wine tourist will explore three tasting rooms per outing.
“That leaves them a number of times they can come back to visit us in Spokane,” Allen said.
The respect that surrounds the Washington state wine industry and its premier producers explains why Barrister co-founder Greg Lipsker sits on the board of directors of Visit Spokane, as does Davenport executive Matt Jensen.
And while the rat race and cost of living in Seattle continues to rise, Spokane has benefited by offering a quality of life that helps it naturally recruit culinary talents. Leading that movement is entrepreneurial chef Adam Hegsted, a visionary and the Inland Northwest answer to famed Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas.
Hegsted, also a Visit Spokane board member, operates nine restaurants under his Good Eat Group. He also founded Crave! Northwest, a delicious three-day festival that attracts wineries from Walla Walla and beyond.
Kristina Mielke-van Löben Sels, winemaker/co-owner of Arbor Crest, says, “Spokane has become a place where people really want to move to, and the demand for good restaurants has come with that. We’ve seen that shift in the past 20 years since we’ve moved here. Every new restaurant that’s good will be supported, and I would not separate Spokane and Coeur d’Alene when it comes to a wine-and-dine experience. People from Coeur d’Alene travel to Spokane to eat, and people from Spokane go to Coeur d’Alene to eat.”
In recent years, the local vine-to-table movement also has been embraced by these restaurants. A growing number of Spokane-area wineries have earned placement on wine lists in just the past five years.
Hotels, restaurants and clubs are not the only businesses that have benefited from the influx of conventions being staged in Spokane. There were about 140,000 room nights in 2018, a 43% increase. Downtown tasting rooms such as Barrister and those ringing around the Davenport properties have seen a rise in traffic, too.
There’s an edgy industrial feel to many of these downtown wineries, particularly those along Pacific Avenue southeast of the Davenport. It begins with the historic nature of the brick buildings. Robert Karl’s home once served as a firehouse. Overbluff Cellars moved into the Washington Cracker Building. Bridge Press Cellars recently added another layer of renovation to the Foresters of America Hall, built in 1910.
And while a handful of wineries and tasting rooms have gone dark in the past five years, there is the exciting young Winescape project rising just southeast of downtown.
True, aside from a couple of wineries east of downtown, there are no commercial vineyards. That hasn’t slowed down Woodinville or Spokane because winemakers in both cities pull from many of the same top vineyards in the Columbia Valley.
The Allen estate, however, features a couple rows of the winter-hardy hybrid Leon Millot.
“I started those in my backyard about 15 years ago,” said Allen, who envisions creating a winery management and marketing program at Spokane Community College. ”Some years I mix them with some Cab. Other years, I mix it with Syrah or whatever else I might find.”
Downtown Spokane Cork District
When attorneys Greg Lipsker and Michael White took their families on a trip in 1997 to Ainsworth Hot Springs in British Columbia, someone forgot to bring the booze. However, there was a five-gallon home winemaking kit available at a local store in Canada. Zinfandel sounded like a fun thing to try.
"If I had brought a bottle of gin and some tonic, our lives would be totally different," Lipsker says. "This never would have happened."
Seven years later, with help from their friends at Walla Walla Vintners, they turned a 100-year-old building on Railroad Avenue into Barrister Winery. The rumbling of trains across the nearby tressel imparts subtle vibrations on their underground barrel room, creating a unique Northwest experience. Recently, they made young winemaker Tyler Walters a partner in the business, which won a trio of best-of-class awards at the 2019 INDY International Wine Competition.
Local thirst for Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and their balanced Rough Justice red blend has essentially maxed out Barrister’s capacity at 6,500 cases. Nearly all of it is sold within the Inland Northwest and to the winery’s 1,800 club members.
Their event space is popular year-round, especially on First Friday for local artists, and the courtyard provides a stage to their casual Summer Concert Series. A regular headliner is acclaimed blues singer/guitarist Sammy Eubanks.
“We have seating for 200 people, and it will be standing room only,” Lipsker said. “We offer it the second week in May to the second week in September, and we’re already booked through 2020. We tell people to bring whatever you want to eat. Some people bring cheese and crackers; others a fancy picnic. Some people call Domino’s for pizza.”
Gary Hustad and Russ Feist have ushered this downtown winery into its second decade riding a string of success in major regional competitions for Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends. Just a couple of blocks north of Interstate 90, their two-floor tasting room/winery is named the Italian word for barrels.
Once inside the door at the corner of Brown and Pacific, Brian and Melody Padrta — who met during a bridge tournament — and son Andrew have created an atmosphere and stage for big reds, a lineup that features the Right Bank-inspired Evil Queen, a Walla Walla Valley Cab and Grenache from Tapteil Vineyard on Red Mountain. The Brick Room, a second-floor ballroom and their outdoor patio play host to top regional musicians while the kitchen keeps cooking.
Longtime winemaker Jerry Gibson, as funny as the late Jimmy Durante, remains a favorite in the tasting room that’s open Fridays and Saturdays. Their fans are staunch supporters, having showered Overbluff with an astounding 4.9 out of 5 rating on Facebook. Established in 2006, Gibson’s suave reds, now poured in the historic Washington Cracker Building, continue to be sourced from the Walla Walla Valley without stuffiness. Guests can ask questions about a glass of wine or buy coffee since the owners also operate Anvil Coffee Roasting.
Robert Karl Cellars
The Gunselmans committed to Horse Heaven Hills grapes in 2003, and their prescience has paid off with bright and finesse-filled red wines inspired by Bordeaux from vineyards such as Phinny Hill and McKinley Springs.
“We scoped out that region as early as 1997,” said Joe, an anesthesiologist and private pilot. “We used to drive and drive and drive everywhere. The first two or three years we made wine, we got grapes from just about every appellation there was.”
His wife, Rebecca, added, “We talked to winemakers around the state like Wade Wolfe and Rick Small and they all said, ‘Cabernet and Horse Heaven is pretty spectacular.”
They came out of the chute with a 2001 Claret that wowed judges at the Washington State Wine Competition. Nearly two decades later, the Gunselmans, who named the winery after a family member on each side of the family, are slowing down. They’ve scaled back to 2,000 cases, led by Cab and their Claret, the elegant flagship wine they price at $22.
“We were hoping one of the boys would take over the business,” she said.
Dr. Joe adds, “This was our adventure. You can’t make it be their adventure.”
V du V Wines
A decade ago, John Morrow and Kirk Phillips launched V du V, a playful reference to their early days of making vino in the back of a van. Their lineup, which includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir, is served along Scott Street inside one of the Inland Northwest wine industry's youngest buildings — constructed in 1953 for Morland Tire Co.
A pair of Washington State University medical professors - Phillip and Patricia Butterfield - are behind one of the most charming young winery projects in Eastern Washington, buoyed by a brilliantly named and striking brand. The Butterfields hired renowned Seattle architect Tom Kundig to map out their winery/tasting room as they transform their 14 acres east of Lincoln Heights. They opened in November 2017.
"It really was a hobby that got out of hand," Phillip said.
A 20-minute drive from downtown puts you within reach of delicious Cabernet Sauvignon made with Red Mountain grapes grown by the Williams family of Kiona Vineyards fame. Winescape’s lineup also includes their proprietary Marmot Incarnate, a red blend from the Walla Walla Valley, a Provence-inspired rosé and a richly textured Chardonnay.
Cork District tasting rooms
Across the Spokane Falls from Riverfront Park is Kendall Yards, a remarkable example of urban renewal named for the man who built the first bridge across the Spokane River. Spokane natives Craig and Vicki Leuthold, owners of decorated Maryhill Winery in the Columbia Gorge, immediately became smitten with the development while attending a 2016 holiday dinner there.
Less than a year later, Maryhill opened its first satellite tasting room within Kendall Yards. (They will have opened two more in 2019 before the year ends.) The combination of sipping on award-winning wine while sitting on the patio gazing down upon the Spokane River has taken off.
“Pretty cool, huh?” Leuthold exclaimed. “Kendall Yards is really something else.”
Joining them in Kendall Yards in Craftsman Cellars, a brand started in 2013 by Greg Shelman, a former pharmacist who returned to Washington State University to earn a winemaking degree. He worked at Hogue Cellars and Arbor Crest before taking a run at his own project that’s focused on Bordeaux-inspired reds and Pinot Noir.
On the other side of the river, as the Davenport Arts District developed, Walla Walla wineries have taken an interest. In 2011, Cougar Crest Estate Winery planted its flag kitty-corner from The Davenport. Helix by Reininger and Tempus followed.
In 2016, Va Piano Vineyards, owned by Gonzaga grad Justin Wylie, opened a tasting room inside The Davenport. Terra Blanca Estate Winery on Red Mountain moved into the Chronicle Building.
Barrister enjoys success at its young satellite tasting room across Washington Street from The Davenport Grand near The First Interstate Center for the Arts — built for Expo ‘74 as the Washington State Pavilion.
Bluff to Lake Tour
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
When the Mielke family started Arbor Crest in 1982, they pulled from Sagemoor Vineyard and early estate plantings on the Wahluke Slope. Those wines, served on the first floor of historic Cliff House mansion, helped create the foundation for the wine industry in the Inland Empire as just the state's 29th bonded winery.
A 2009 fire inside the Cliff House inspired Sonoma-trained talent Kristina Mielke-van Löben Sels, and her husband, Jim, to create a new tasting gallery that has served them and their customers well. The Cliff House and the marvelous Hearst-like grounds that the Royal Riblet created in 1924 continue to attract wine lovers and concertgoers to this estate, which overlooks the Spokane River and the Spokane Valley.
Some nights, more than 1,000 fans stroll the manicured grounds, listen to local musicians and sip on wines from the Arbor Crest, van Löben Sels and Avansino labels. The dangers of the 450-foot high basalt cliffs and historic structures make it an adult-only facility.
Her favorite wines to produce remain Cabernet Sauvignon, the Meritage-style Dionysus made with Cab from Sagemoor Vineyards, and longtime star Sauvignon Blanc. Those three wines account for about 25 percent of her total production. This spring, they launched a stunning sister project named Weather Station, a 3,000-case lineup that includes a "fumé" style Sauvignon Blanc, a marvelous Merlot and a charming Pinot Noir — all from Conner Lee Vineyard.
Latah Creek Wine Cellars
For a bit of perspective, it was just eight years after Expo ‘74 when Mike and Ellena Conway started Latah Creek Wine Cellars in Spokane.
Perhaps just as remarkable, in 1982 he was not only the winemaker for his own winery but also for a startup in Prosser called Hogue Cellars. The Air Force veteran’s résumé included E & J Gallo, Franzi and Parducci. He knew promising vineyards when he saw them, which explains why Latah Creek was among the first to source from the Wahluke Slope and Ancient Lakes.
His daughter, Natalie Conway-Barnes, earned a biology degree at Eastern Washington and moved into the cellar in 2004. Together, they’ve burnished Latah Creek’s reputation for award-winning and approachable wines at affordable prices with production of around 15,000 cases. They shine with aromatic whites, their huckleberry blush and food-friendly reds such as Barbera and Zinfandel. And in their fascinating gift shop near the Spokane Valley Mall, Ellena sells her multi-volume cookbook with recipes for each bottling.
Liberty Lake Wine Cellars
Mark and Sarah Lathrop were club members for several years at Liberty Lake Wine Cellars. In 2016, they became the winery’s owners. Mark, the winemaker when he’s not overseeing a stainless steel fabrication firm, has made esteemed Red Mountain fruit his focus, particularly that of Scooteney Flats and Kiona’s Heart of the Hill.
The Lathrops’ 2016 Meritage-style Bud Burst Red ranks among the most textured and hedonistic reds by an Inland Northwest producer, serving as a snapshot of their program. He’s received acclaim for his 2016 Syrah and a nice buzz for his sparkling Sangiovese rosé that’s on tap in the tasting room and an orange Gewürztraminer. Now, the Eastern Washington University grads are positioned for more traffic. Soon, their corner of the business development will include Snow Eater Brewery and the Trailbreaker cider house.
“People who live in Liberty Lake don’t want to hit the freeway,” he said. “They want to stay here.”
There are several winemaking attorneys in the Pacific Northwest, and Tim Nodland continues to rank among the best. Construction downtown prompted him to abandon his jazz club/tasting room in the Chronicle Building, so he adopted a members-only approach at his Spokane Valley production facility. He uses Walla Walla Valley grapes to earn national acclaim for his Malbec, Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bad Attitude red blend.
Last year, Don Townshend and his sons celebrated the 20th anniversary of their value-focused brand, and they've become the largest producer in the Inland Northwest at 25,000 cases.
"This is one of the largest barrel facilities in the state for someone other than the huge corporate guys," said Brendon, 31, who has taken over the winemaking while still serving in the Air National Guard. "That barrel aging is one of the reasons why customers like our wines so much."
Michael, 28, in charge of sales and marketing, grew up "slapping labels on bottles after the school," he said with a chuckle. "I couldn't imagine starting a winery today. We're so fortunate to have the market share already."
The brothers produce and sell more than 20 styles of wine, and they praise longtime grower Jim Willard in the Yakima Valley for supplying many of their grapes. Their whites and rosé of Grenache retail for $10. None of their four sparkling wines go for more than $20. Of their eight sweet wines, half are fortified, including a huckleberry dessert.
But at the core are the suave, nicely priced and well-known nonvintage red blends on the shelves — Purple Table Wine ($10), Red Table Wine ($10), Right Bank Bordeaux-inspired Vortex Red ($15) and Left Bank-inspired T3 ($18). Their most expensive red wine is Tempranillo ($28).
"If I had my way, it would all be nonvarietal, nonvintage and it would just say, 'Washington' on the front," Brendon said. "All that matters is that you remain consistent, and we've been making T3 and Vortex - our flagships - for 12 or 13 years now. I like making them because you have so much more freedom, and you are making a better wine."
Their production facility not far from Spokane Community College is 20 minutes south of the Townshend Cellar tasting room in bucolic Green Bluff.
Trezzi Farm Winery & Vineyard, Colbert
Don’t look for them on the Cork District map. Owner/winemaker Davide Trezzi operates a 6-acre vineyard vineyard and winery within his 22-acre farm in the charming farm community of Green Bluff — a mile east of the Townshend Cellar tasting room.
Trezzi, a native of Milan, established his vineyard in 2005 with Barbera, which set the table for his Italian-themed program that has branched off into Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Franconia, the name for the Lemberger grape in Friuli.
Their wines are poured in a former tractor barn, and Davide offers Italian-inspired items for the Trezzi catering business and visitors to take home and bake. The store is heavy on pasta dishes and bowls of minestrone that come with baking instructions.
Don’t look for them on the Cork District map. And the Trezzi tasting room operates with limited hours, primarily Saturdays only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wine tourists also have reason to venture beyond Stateline and its reminders of those dangerous days when the Gem State dragged its heels until 1987 on raising the drinking age from 19 to 21.
Montana native Shelly Crawford, a wine lover for two decades, is putting her winemaking education through Washington State University to work in the Lake City. She and her chiropractor husband, Scott, work with a handful of varieties from the Yakima Valley, including Albariño, and Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills. Their wines are available within the shopping gallery at The Resort at Coeur d’Alene.
Coeur d'Alene Cellars
A decade ago, Wine Press Northwest named Coeur d'Alene Cellars as the Idaho Winery of the Year, and the focus remains on reds sourced from top vineyards in Washington such as Stillwater Creek on the Royal Slope, McKinley Springs in the Horse Heaven Hills and Olsen Brothers in the Yakima Valley.
Pend d'Oreille Winery
Longtime assistant winemaker Jim Bopp and Panhandle native Kylie Presta took over the winery from founders Steve and Julie Meyer, and 2020 will mark the 25th anniversary of this brand in Sandpoint.
The Meyers renovated the historic Belwood Building, and the new owners continue the tradition of award-winning wines made from Columbia Valley grapes. Exciting varieties such as Albariño, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Primitivo can be enjoyed on-premise with fresh thin-crust pizza, which often is accompanied by live music. Its proximity to Lake Pend d'Oreille and Schweitzer Mountain Resort makes this a year-round destination.
Anyone who visits Spokane owes it to themselves to spend at least one night at The Historic Davenport, built in 1914. Relax with a cocktail in the Peacock Room Lounge before moving to the Palm Court Grill, then start their morning with a coffee in the lobby that lives up to its original style of Spanish Renaissance.
However, no one can go wrong with any Worthy hotel on either side of Riverfront Park. Those who naturally gravitate to the river should consider the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Spokane City Center, which overlooks the First Interstate Center for the Arts and is adjacent to the convention center. The Davenport properties and the DoubleTree all offer “sip and stay” packages.
Nearby, there’s the pet-friendly Ruby River Hotel. Marriott Bonvoy members might lean toward Courtyard Spokane Downtown at the Convention Center. Spokane Valley features the Mirabeau Park Hotel. Visit Spokane recommends the 1899 House B&B and the Marianna Stoltz House B&B near Gonzaga.
The world-famous Coeur d’Alene Resort offers first-rate accommodations and service. Those looking for something less touristy should look at the historic Roosevelt Inn B&B. In Sandpoint, the luxurious Talus Rock Retreat is a mile from downtown but wouldn’t be out of place in Sun Valley or Tahoe.
When quality local wine is blended with dinner, it’s a winner, and a number of vintners credit the emergence of fine dining as a key spark that inspired more interest in Spokane-area wines.
Adam Hegsted’s empire falls under his Eat Good Group, and if you track #EatINW, you will learn about his nine restaurants that span downtown Spokane and the Idaho Panhandle. Wandering Table in Kendall Yards is across the street from Maryhill Winery’s tasting room. The Gilded Unicorn is downtown, while over in Idaho there is Farmhouse Kitchen, Silo Bar, Republic Kitchen and Taphouse and Honey — not only a restaurant but also a social club.
Anthony’s Restaurants, with perhaps the Northwest’s most regionally focused wine programs across its 30 locations, operates scenic waterfront restaurants overlooking the falls at Riverfront Park and Coeur d’Alene at Riverstone Drive.
Two of the Spokane wine industry's early supporters and farm-to-fork restaurants — Luna on the South Hill and Latah Bistro along Cheney-Spokane Road ± remain supportive.
Downriver Grill has been a destination for winemaker dinners featuring some of the Northwest’s top producers, including John Abbott of Abeja and Devona fame. Fans of Barrister Winery will find a prime lot of Cab from Red Mountain that is specially made for acclaimed Churchill’s Steakhouse on Post Street.
Clinkerdagger is just upstream from Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, and it’s been a mainstay since the days of the World’s Fair.
The Steam Plant Kitchen + Brewery is easy to spot because it’s within the Steam Plant complex, with its circa 1916 stacks serving as icons visible from the freeway.
Luigi’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street offers an extensive wine list. Spencer’s For Steaks and Chops inside the Doubletree supports a number of Spokane wineries, including Arbor Crest’s new Weather Station project.
Steelhead Bar & Grille bills itself as an upscale public house downtown with a daily happy hour. Suki Yaki Inn brings fresh sushi and authentic Japanese food, including rice wine. Wild Sage Bistro caters to gluten-free diners and supports Spokane-area wines on a remarkable scale, and it’s a short walk from Barrister Winery.
Ceviche bar Zona Blanco is the brainchild of buzzworthy celebrity chef Chad White, who has appeared on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef. For those into Greek food, winemakers pointed out Azar’s on Monroe. Local standout Travis Dickinson, who married into a Mexican family and fancies pork, opened Cochinito Taqueria in the space vacated by longtime Niko’s Greek Restaurant and Wine Bar.
In the Spokane Valley, Hay J’s Bistro is in its second decade as a two-generation family restaurant with locally focused cuisine driven by chef Patrick Fechser and his brother Jeramie Entner. And Max at Mirabeau Restaurant and Lounge would be a fitting transition after attending the opening night of Crave! Northwest nearby.
Masselow’s Steakhouse at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino near Spokane International Airport offers surf and turf with regional wines to match.
For a quick sandwich, there is Spokane legend Domini’s downtown and three spots in the Inland Empire for Caruso’s, which also serves pizza. There’s a cult-like following in Coeur d’Alene for Hudson’s Hamburgers and Cafe Carambola.
The young Vine & Olive Riverstone Eatery and Wine Bar, the dream of owner/wine buyer Naomi Boutz, was featured by Wine Press Northwest as part of its Match Maker series in 2018. It’s a delicious collaboration between Chicago-trained chef Paul Mason and the thoughtful wine list curated by Boutz. Her mentor? Who else but Adam Hegsted. Anthony’s Restaurants, the seafood group headquartered in the Puget Sound area, opened its first Idaho restaurant near the Riverstone development. The Bluebird Midtown Eatery features New American cuisine and a Northwest-focused wine list. Garlic lovers and fans of Greek fare will enjoy The White House in Post Falls. Rod Jessick, longtime executive chef of Hagadone-owned Coeur d'Alene Resort, has performed at the famed James Beard House in New York City. Hagaone’s portfolio includes Beverly’s on the seventh floor of the resort and The Cedars Floating Restaurant. For those who overnight in Idaho, there’s The Garnet Café for breakfast.
Vino! A Wine Shop opened in 1995 on Washington Street two blocks north of Interstate 90, and proprietor John Allen remains one of the Northwest’s leading authorities on wine. He and his knowledgeable team offer drop-in tastings on Fridays and Saturday.
Josh Wade moved Nectar Wine and Beer from near the Parkade to Kendall Yards and hasn’t looked back. This summer, not far from the historic Fox Theater, chef/businessman Adam Hegsted opened Pocket Bar for local beer and wine. LeftBank Wine Bar leans Old World but still supports the Northwest. Bulldog Liquor & Wine, within walking distance of Gonzaga University, stocks Inland Northwest wine. And the monster that is Total Wine & More has two stores in the area.
Among the locally owned grocers that support area wineries is Huckleberry’s, Petunias Market and Yoke’s Fresh Market.
In Coeur d’Alene, Studio 107 is enjoying its second decade after moving into the spot on Sherman Avenue that Coeur d’Alene Cellars once occupied.
Portland and Vancouver USA brag about their coffee cultures, but Spokane has caught up. Last year, National Geographic Travel magazine ranked the Lilac City as one of the country’s top coffee cities based on coffee houses per capita.
Some of the top coffee houses also are licensed to sell wine and beer. Heck, the operators of Overbluff Cellars, moved their Anvil Coffee Roasting into the historic Washington Cracker Building.
There is Atticus, across Spokane Falls Boulevard from Riverfront Park, the 40-year-old 4 Seasons Coffee Co., and 25-year-old Rocket Bakery, which opens before dawn at seven locations throughout the area. Indaba Coffee Roasters is a local chain with a trio of shops in the Cork District downtown. They roast their own, their Lavender Latte is a hit and latest Riverside Avenue shop boasts its Avocado Toast. First Avenue Coffee recently launched the Modbar system, and there is a definite buzz for its Nitro Fashioned F-Bomb cold brew coffee.
An even larger presence belongs to Wake Up Call with its nine stores and iconic, oversized red telephone booths that have attracted the attention of RoadsideAmerica.com.
Bruttles Gourmet Candies boasts a 60-year-old recipe for soft peanut brittle. Halletts Chocolates is a veritable newcomer, opening not long after the World’s Fair. Fans go crazy for its caramels and buttercream-filled Huckleberry Bliss. Spokandy’s history predates the Steam Plant, starting in 1913, and earns its delicious reputation for truffles and its work with huckleberries.
Inland NW Ale Trail
The legion of beer producers in the Inland Northwest stands at 40 producers and climbing. After all, brewmasters don’t have far to reach considering the dry side of the state leads the world in hop production.
And thanks to pioneering No-Li Brewhouse, the federal government has officially established a Spokane Style” of beer, making it the equivalent of an American Viticultural Area.
And akin to the Mt. Hood Territory Beer Trail in Oregon, Spokane-area producers have created a self-guided trail map and corresponding app. Keep track of your stops and qualifying for glassware and other swag.
Among the cider producers is North Idaho Cider in Hayden.
Dry Fly Distilling on East Trent blazed the trail for craft distillers throughout Washington state when it became the first since Prohibition. The brainchild of a pair of fly fisherman, they’ve made headlines with their Triticale Whiskey, made from grain on a Palouse ranch that’s been in the hands of the same family for 117 years, and its bourbon.
Warrior Liquor on Lee is operated by veteran service members whose offerings include flavored vodkas and ciders.
Spokane’s riverfront continues to attract thoughtful development and builds upon the legacy of the World’s Fair. The SkyRide over Spokane Falls, named by CondeNast as one of the world’s top scenic cable rides, provides breathtaking views of the river as it first did in 1974. The young Riverfront Skate Ribbon, across Spokane Falls Boulevard from RiverPark Square Mall, now spans four seasons for ice skating or roller skating.
The Looff Carousel, dating to circa 1909, has made Riverfront Park its home starting in 1975 and boasts more than 300,000 riders each year.
Boo Radley’s is the place for nerdy adults to hang out at while their kids are riding the carousel across the street. It’s a great spot for Comic-Con fans or those shopping for thoughtfully greeting cards that carry a whiff of patchouli. Owner/mastermind Jen Menzer can boast of Inlander magazine’s Best Gift Shop, the area’s top-ranked coffee shop, Atticus, and the adjoining kitchen store which she also owns.
Below the iconic Washington Water Power substation and the Monroe Street Dam is the City Plaza and Huntington Park, a gift to the city by the regional power company. It opens up the lower falls to the public.
The best way to get a feel for Spokane is the self-guided, well-marked City Drive. The 90-minute round trip tour takes in historic homes, landmarks, Manito Park and other natural features.
Wholesome activities also await at the Green Bluff Growers, particularly at the family-themed Walter’s Fruit Ranch. Call ahead to schedule a tour and trip on the Fruit Loop Express. North of Coeur d’Alene is the regionally acclaimed Silverwood Theme Park.
Spokane boasts one of the country’s best collections of municipal golf courses, with scenic Indian Canyon as the crown jewel. The Inland Northwest counts 33 courses, public and private. Perhaps the most famous is the Coeur d’Alene Resort course with its floating green.
Cycling is huge in the region. The 37-mile Spokane Centennial Trail runs through Riverfront Park and connects with the North Idaho Centennial Trail to create a 60-mile path with Coeur d’Alene.
There’s a proliferation of Scoot Spokane, the lime-green scooters that buzz around the city. Visit Spokane lists “scootable neighborhoods” such as the historic Browne’s Addition with its Victorian-inspired mansions just west of downtown.
The 7.5-mile Lilac Bloomsday Run is always the first Sunday in May. There were a record 61,298 runners in 1996, but interest has fallen off by a third since then, reflected in the 38,541 participants for the 2019 race.
Spokane Hoopfest, the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament, takes over 42 blocks of downtown during the last weekend in June.
The Spokane Indians play baseball at Avista Field and as a member of the Northwest League, perhaps its most famous alumni is future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy. He began his managerial career as skipper of the Indians.
The Cork District helps orchestrate three major wine events each year: ValenWine Weekend (the week prior to Valentine’s Day), Spring Release Weekend around Mother’s Day and the Holiday Wine Festival - one week prior to Thanksgiving.
This November, the 38th annual Epicurean Delight gala will gather 14 wineries, 29 restaurants and more than 1,000 guests to the Spokane Convention Center in support of Vitalant, the Inland Northwest Blood Center Foundation.
The third annual Coeur d’Alene Food and Wine Festival returns Feb. 7-9, 2020 to The Resort at Coeur d’Alene, which lures some of the top winemakers in Walla Walla.
Crave! Northwest, an Adam Hegsted event that features a partnership with the Spokesman-Review and supports Wishing Star, has booked its fourth annual festival for July 16-18, 2020.
Next summer will mark the 10th annual Vintage Spokane consumer tasting, typically the third Sunday in July at The Davenport Grand Hotel ballroom. The annual Northwest WineFest at Schweitzer spans in late July two days.