Just a half hour from downtown Seattle, Woodinville is Western Washington’s very own wine country. Set in a quiet valley with ample open green spaces and trails, Woodinville’s wineries and tasting rooms are a treat to visit, in part because—of course—wine is involved, but also because of their close proximity to each other.
Woodinville’s wineries don’t have their own vineyards and instead bring in grapes mostly from vineyards in neighboring Eastern Washington. The result? The small town of Woodinville has more than just a couple of wineries. There are more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, as well as about 10 microbreweries, distilleries and cideries all located within a few miles. Yes, wine fans and connoisseurs, you have found your heaven.
There’s quite a selection of places to go tasting, so how do you choose the best? The answer—start with the biggest and best wineries in the area. These wineries have the largest selection to choose from, tours so you can get up close and personal with the wine making process, food to try, and sometimes onsite restaurants. Get a feel for what Woodinville does best, and then branch out from there.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is Woodinville’s largest and most prominent winery. As a result, you can taste Chateau Ste. Michelle wines at just about any local grocery store, but tasting at the winery itself is a treat. Start with the winery tour, where you’ll not only get to try a sampling of the winery’s best-known varietals, you’ll also get to see how and where the wine is made. This is a great overview for Woodinville and the wine world overall, too, especially if you don’t know what you like yet because Chateau Ste. Michelle’s selection is vast. You can also taste wines only found at the winery in the Wine Shop, or buy some cheeses and other smaller bites. Once you have your wine picnic assembled, kick back right on the expansive Chateau Ste. Michelle grounds, which are a picturesque treat on warmer days. In summer months, also keep an eye out on events at this winery. They hold a full outdoor concert series as well as other events that make great date nights.
Like Chateau Ste. Michelle, Delille Cellars has a beautiful, sprawling estate known as the Delille Chateau, but unlike Chateau Ste. Michelle, the chateau here is more for events than wine tasting. If what you seek is wine tasting, head to the Carriage House Tasting Room for rustic chic appeal and a wine tasting experience. The tasting room is best visited on a sunny day when you can spend some time in the outdoor spaces, gathered around a wine barrel (cleverly used as tables), sipping on a glass of your new favorite wine. There’s also an indoor tasting space, so you can wine taste all year round. Each day’s tasting menu might vary, but watch for the Roussane and Doyenne, as you can’t go wrong with either.
Another of Woodinville’s biggest and best wineries – and also one you’ll spot in local grocery and wine stores – Columbia Winery offers a well-balanced and varied wine list headlined by some wine standards—Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but also backed up by a solid selection of wines you won’t see in the stores. Enjoy a sampling of wine tastes or buy a glass, and pair it with some mixed nuts, a cheese or charcuterie spread, or one of the flatbreads also available in the tasting room for a light lunch or dinner. Columbia’s tasting room has a more modern aesthetic than many others in the area with a larger space, bold colors and a fireplace at its center.
Efeste is a little off the beaten path so is often a bit quieter than some of the larger wineries, but it’s still by no means small. The tasting room is spacious and the staff are always willing to tell you a bit about each wine on the tasting menu. Efeste is known for a few of its most popular wines, namely Nana (a Bordeaux-style red), Big Papa (Cabernet Sauvignon), Final Final red wine and Lola (Chardonnay). If you find yourself a fan of their wines, you can join the Efeste Wine Club to get allocations of the spring and fall wines, discounts on wine, free tastings and special events access.
JM Cellars is especially ideal if you want to spend your time sipping in an outdoor space that has some stunning Northwest appeal as the winery doubles as a private arboretum. In addition to natural beauty galore, the outdoor seating area has a bocce ball court and a small waterfall, towering fir trees and Japanese maples. The outdoor area is also dog friendly. It’s lovely, but if it’s not nice out or if stunning Northwest appeal just isn’t your thing, there’s also an indoor sitting area where you can enjoy a lineup of wines.
One of the best things about Woodinville is that you can not only visit wineries, but you can also head to the Warehouse District and visit tasting rooms galore. Where the wineries are more spread out, the Warehouse District tasting rooms are walkable to each other. In fact, there are more boutique wineries per square foot here than any other wine region in the world. Woohoo!