Welcome to the birthplace of Washington state wine. In 1954, Washington’s first winery, the American Wine Co., was founded. By 1976, it became Chateau Ste. Michelle and erected a French-style manor and winery on 105 acres in Woodinville, Washington. Today, the winery, part of parent group Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, is the largest producer of wine in the state, with an annual production of more than 3 million cases spanning eight different varietals and is the world-leader in Riesling, producing more than nine different styles.
The winery once singlehandedly brought visitors to Woodinville, just 30 miles east of Seattle, and is now joined by producers numbering in the triple digits, even without the billowing fields of sun-plump vines and basalt-rich soils sported by other wine regions in the state. This is suburban wine country—home to more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, five distilleries, eight breweries, two cideries and a developing restaurant scene amidst a small town community and the flowing Sammamish River.
THE WAREHOUSE WINERY DISTRICT
In one fell swoop, wine enthusiasts, tour buses and bachelorette parties alike can access premium Woodinville wine in one central industrial neighborhood, split by two main arterials and all within walking distance.
Baer Winery: Meet one of the first micro wineries to the area and try Ursa, the signature blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from this father-daughter operated winery.
Guardian Cellars: Trained by fellow Warehouse district winemakers, full-time police officer Jerry Riener bottles crime-themed Bordeaux-style blends like The Alibi.
Sparkman Cellars: Winemaker Chris Sparkman produces roughly 25 wines, like the wild yeast fermented Lumière Chardonnay, while “employing” his two daughters, wife and parents in the winery.
Armstrong Family Winery: New and noteworthy, this family-run winery makes value-driven, Bordeaux-inspired wines such as the 100 percent varietal Celebration Series Cabernet Franc.
W.T. Vintners: Handcrafted by Seattle sommelier Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen and his business partner, George White, choose the mineral-rich, high elevation Grüner Veltliner from the Columbia Gorge.
Savage Grace Wines: Also producing racy, high acid wines is W.T.’s next-door neighbor Michael Savage. Try his Sauvignon Musque clone Sauvignon Blanc from storied Red Willow vineyard.
Refuge and Prospect Winery: In a farmhouse-fashioned winery and tasting room, half a dozen wines are poured from this dramatically artistic label, like the vibrant Mortal Remains red blend from Yakima Valley’s Two Blondes Vineyard.
EFESTĒ: Known for boisterous, full-bodied reds such as the deeply concentrated Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon, taste the wines while gazing into the high-vaulted ceilings of a stacked barrel room.
Triplehorn Brewing Co: Refresh from wine with a pint at this Viking-influenced storeroom brewery fermenting more than 20 beers like the flagship Landwink India pale ale, which uses whole Simcoe hops.
Elemental Hard Cider: Nosh on gluten-free fare with a handful of Washington-grown apple ciders from an extensive rotating in-house tap list, such as the acai-infused Nitrogen.
Locust Ciders: This brother-run operation and modest tasting room breaks the mold with limited releases such as a bottled blend of French and English bittersweet apples from imported juice.
Avennia: Open by appointment only, this sleek Bordeaux-branded powerhouse also steps outside the regional style lines and produces a juggernaut of a Syrah in its Arnaut.
Kevin White Winery: A few garage doors down is Microsoft program manager Kevin White’s namesake nano winery, also open by appointment to try his three Rhône-style blends.
J.P. Trodden: One of the first in the state to bottle purely Washington-made bourbon, this single-spirit distillery splashes tastes of its four-year aged whiskey and samples it mixed in a Manhattan.
THE HOLLYWOOD WINERY DISTRICT
Named for the eponymous and historic Hollywood Schoolhouse that sits in the center, Woodinville Wine Country pioneers call this scenic region home and several Warehouse wineries have slid in with secondary digs as well.
Betz Family Winery: The patriarch of the area, this winery has been producing elegant and highly acclaimed red blends since 1997, like the velvety La Côte Rousse Syrah from Red Mountain.
Novelty Hill and Januik: The eastern tip of the Hollywood district is pronounced by these two wineries, made under the same stone-clad, mod-contemporary winery and expansive tasting room ran by master of Merlot, Mike Januik.
Matthews and TENOR: Winemaker Aryn Morell crafts Bordeaux-inspired wines for the former and single-varietal, Old World-influenced bottles for the latter. Both are poured at the tasting room set aback a thriving outdoor garden.
Mark Ryan Winery: One of the godfathers of the Woodinville garage winemakers, this tasting room boasts sweeping high-beam ceilings, reclaimed hardwood floors, vintage display motorcycles and powerhouse reds like the flagship Long Haul Merlot-dominant blend.
Darby Winery: Minimalist winemaker Darby English bottles small-batch, native fermentation wines like the inky Purple Haze, poured in this dark and romantic tasting room.
Gorman Winery: Taste the powerful Evil Twin Red Mountain blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Chris Gorman, rock out to 90s grunge and play on with arcade games that line the walls like artwork.
Patterson Cellars: An adjoining neighbor, this winery pours a variety of wines like the multi-vintage, fruit-forward Due Anni on the expansive, open-air patio.
Brian Carter Cellars: In a stand-alone sunflower-coated cottage, taste European-style wines from one of the area originals, like Oriana, the white Rhône-style blend of Viognier and Roussanne.
DeLille Cellars: One house over is this paragon producer synonymous with Woodinville since 1992, pouring its broad-shouldered, acclaimed wines, such as the Four Flags Bordeaux-style red blend.
Woodinville Whiskey Co.: The proprietary distiller recently opened the doors to its expansive and stunning tasting room and distillery, introducing its flagship Washington-grown straight bourbon whiskey to the people.
Redhook Brewery & Forecasters Pub: The 22-year-old iconic Bavarian-themed brewpub lays claim to one of the best patios east of Seattle, lined by trees and kitted out with rolling fields of grass that host an outdoor summer theater.
THE WEST VALLEY WINERY DISTRICT
As the main thoroughfare rounds the corner and straightens out, the smallest yet most diversified section of Woodinville Wine Country comes into view just west of the Hollywood scene.
The Woodhouse Wine Estates: A warm and spacious tasting room showcases a commercial kitchen and hosts yoga during the summer to pair with its three different brands: Dussek, Kennedy Shah and Hudson Shah.
Sumerian Brewing Co.: This local brewery newbie is lit by Old World chandeliers and characterized by signature ales like the quaffable India session ale in its open wood-dressed taproom.
Facelli Winery: Longtime West Valley resident, Lou Facelli and his family winery have been operating since 1988, serving wines like the bright Sagemoor Vineyard Barbera.
Grapeworks Distilling: This new distillery makes spirits (vodka and brandy) exclusively from Washington grapes such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris.
FROM THE OUTSIDE IN
Regardless of where the grapes are coming from, Woodinville is a hot bed for tasting rooms and wine tourism. The rest of the state caught on, with Eastern Washington wineries like Otis Kenyon, Basel Cellars, Patit Creek Cellars and Isenhower Cellars opening up shop, along with a few from Oregon.
Lachini Vineyards: Find this vineyard winery in the Hollywood area, which holds the latest open hours and invites guests to pair Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with nosh ordered in from Purple Café next door.
Kestrel Vintners: This Warehouse District patio is the place to be when the sun is out and inside with live music when it isn’t, with a glass of Falcon Series Sauvignon Blanc in hand.
J.Bookwalter Winery: This red blend doyen was one of the first to make an additional move west, opening its tasting room across from the Hollywood Schoolhouse in a garage that once kept the house owner’s classic car collection.
Pepper Bridge Winery and Amavi Cellars: These Walla Walla Valley favorites opened a few doors down, showcasing European-influenced single Bordeaux varietal reds and fresh, approachable wines, respectively.
Castillo de Feliciana: This family-owned Walla Walla-based winery brings wines like the Albariño to its Mediterranean-outfitted tasting room nestled into the bottom floor of a home ringed by trees.