Seattle and Woodinville Day One
What to do before going wine tasting for the day out in "wine country"? Let me tell you, eat, stuff yourself with enough food to get you through the day, but of course you don't want to over-stuff yourself so that you don't want to wine-taste. It's a delicate line that we examined and decided to accomplish with a big breakfast. My veggie friend is also a big advocate for not eating factory eggs, and if anyone ever shows you photos of where most eggs come from - you will embrace farm fresh, local, well raised chickens laying your eggs too, don't watch documentaries. Because of this we took advantage of what Seattle has to offer and went to a breakfast joint open 7 days a week (since it was Monday) so she could eat eggs there.
PORTAGE BAY CAFE: There are a few locations of this local and organic breakfast/brunch/lunch cafe around Seattle, so there is no reason to miss their deliciousness on your next trip. Two of us at breakfast had the Oatmeal Cobbler French Toast, which was to die for. Anything on the "sweet section" of the menu was accompanied by the ability to go up to the fruit bar. Yes, a bar of fruit, and nuts and coconut shavings and real whipped cream as well as more maple syrup to put you right over the edge into a diabetic coma. It was heaven for me, I added strawberries, huckleberries, coconut and whipped cream to my already indulgent breakfast. Others had the Vegetarian Farmer's Hash, The Migas and some Eggs and Toast. Each was amazing, and huge portions that got us ready for a big day.
We headed out towards woodinville "wine neighborhood" as it is best described, just a half an hour from Seattle. You drive northeast of downtown and end up in an area you think is just the suburbs until you come around the corner to a pretty little area called the Hollywood region. If you are considering something fun for a few days while near Seattle, this was a great retreat and we walked everywhere, had everything we needed and had a retreat with wine tastings 30 mins from downtown Seattle. The best part about the area is that you felt you were hours from the city. We stayed at the Willow's lodge, the only hotel in the area that is walking distance. The hotel was great, the lodge had beautiful grounds, as was a decent price. Certainly a fraction of the cost of what it would be to stay somewhere in California wine country. The lodge was at the center of things, sort of joining the 'nice strip mall' area of nice restaurants and tasting rooms, and the 'winery' area. I say 'winery' just because there are no grapes grown in this area of Washington. All the vineyards are over the mountains and in the different valleys that have much more of a dessert type weather than the wet seattle forests.
We decided to walk our first day and head over to a few different wineries and see where it got us. We had this whole plan mapped out, starting from the farthest and ending up back at the lodge. Hahaha, it was maybe a half a mile to the farthest and there was a cute forested path taking us right there.
We had quite a few things and places for wines etc we wanted to try while in Woodinville, so we decided that if there was one tasting menu at these places, we would split it, and if there were two we would split up the tastings and share so we could experience everything. We definitely tasted a LOT over the two days, and I think we accomplished a fair amount of wine drinking especially since we started at noonish on both days.
NOVELTY HILL JANUIK - The winery was beautiful, and this was a great place to start our tour with a five minute walk from the hotel. It's really that close! The grounds were lovely, but they only do tours on weekends. The nice part about Januik is that you can choose what you taste. With your tasting price you can pick which ones off the menu you like. This way you can just get what you want from the tasting.
WOODINVILLE WHISKEY - As you already learned, I had a whiskey lover as a companion for my trip, so we headed here next. The tasting was free, hoping you would like something that they had to offer, so it was definitely worth the stop. They are less than five years old, so they are making micro-barrels right now for the purpose of getting product out to consumers at a much faster rate. The bourbon was def. my fav, but it was a drink on the rocks kind of drink, and I just couldn't get there. The smart people they are here did some aging of honey and of vermont maple syrup in their used micro-barrels, which was incredibly delicious, and I will have to use for a special breakfast occasion soon :)
COLOMBIA - Columbia winery is another of the "biggies" in woodinville, and honestly if you are looking for good tastings, not just ok ones, then you could skip this place. The only thing I liked here was the Chardonay, which was not oakey at all, which was probably why I liked it. Beautiful spot, big facility, but nothing to brag about.
CHATEAU ST. MICHELLE - After 3 stops tastingI thought that I would hate this place. They are actually the biggest producers of Reisling in the world, and produce so much of it that it's the only thing that they make at this location. They are a huge producer of wine, a factory you might say, but I was not disappointed. Our server at the tasting was incredibly lovely, and we enjoyed every minute here. If you go on a tour you get a tasting at the end free, we decided to skip it and go directly for the wine. There are three tasting menus, a reisling, a red and a sparkling. I did the reisling and my friend did the red, so we could get a good variety. Plus it was a warm day, and without some AC or a breeze first I needed some white wine. I liked the dry reisling best, and it was their cheapest. Sometimes hard to find in our quirky state of RI, but easily found around the world. I think it's a great everyday white, and perfect for a white Sangria. There were two cabs on the red menu, the Indian Wells and the Ethos Reserve. We loved both but the Ethos was more than double the price of the Indian Wells, but not twice as good. The Indian Wells is well priced, fruit forward cab that everyone can like. One of the best value in wines I think we found.
DELILLE CELLARS - DeLille was not on our initial list of places to go in Woodinville, but I think it would have been sad to miss it. The 'carriage house' as they describe it is a cute stand alone building that has a AC tent on each end to accommodate a good number of tastings at a time. They had really nice and well versed servers which is key. The DeLille was a step above any other tasting we had prior to this, and definitely my favorite overall wines. The tasting started off with one of the best white wines I have ever had the pleasure of trying, the Chaleur Estate Blanc, which is hearty but light at the same time. The powerful white has been served at multiple state dinners at the white house, accompanied with hearty soups as the first course. I am not sure you could find a better white wine to go with a butternut squash bisque. Literally.
I could go on and on about how much I loved DeLille, and will find out more information on how to find their wines again, because I loved every sip of everything we tasted. We got some of the 2011 D2, some of the 2011 Four Flags Cab as well as the DeLille Cellars 2011 Chaleur Estate which is a red blend with the most fabulous lavender notes. This bottle will be saved for when my friend and I can get together again and share it in memory of the trip :)
VILLAGE WINES - we knew our palettes had been spoiled by DeLille at this point so we headed to sit outside at Village Wines, we had some truffle popcorn (HELL YES) and some sparkling rose and cheers to the best birthday trip ever, and the best seattle weather you could dream of asking for. Don't forget to stop by and get some lovely popcorn in your stomach between some tastings.
REDHOOK BREWERY - we enjoyed some AC in our hotel and a nice refresher nap before heading next door to the brewery. Red hook beers aren't really my style. I am a girl who likes white wines and girlie beers, so sue me. Any beer brewed west of Denver is usually too hoppy for girls like myself that grew up with Boston Beers. The casual dinner at the bar was great, and the restaurant really gets hopping even on a Monday over at Red Hook. the Black Bean burger was delicious, and I also recommend the pretzel. Some nice protein and carbs with a cold beer is exactly a remedy for a long day of wine tastings in the sun.