Woodinville Wine Country
It’s home to 118 wineries and tasting rooms and has become a mecca for wine enthusiasts around the world.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information for this article was obtained from Woodinville Wine Country’s website — www.woodinvillewinecountry.com. The website includes a complete list of all 118 wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville and is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to visit this suburban Seattle wine destination.
Nestled in the beautiful Sammamish River Valley just 30 minutes northeast of Seattle, Woodinville Wine Country is home to over 100 wineries and tasting rooms representing every wine grape growing region in Washington.
From the historic and beautiful grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle to the quaint boutique wineries where you are likely to have winemakers themselves pour you a glass of his or her finest blend, a wonderful variety of wine tasting experiences awaits you.
Nearly all of the Woodinville wineries grow their grapes in the warm, arid climate of Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley where vineyards boast sandy, gravelly soils providing an ideal medium to plant vines. Protected from Seattle’s marine climate by the Cascade Mountains, Columbia Valley vineyard temperatures consistently hover in the mid-80’s during the summer. Come fall, warm days and cool nights protect the grapes natural acidity and ripen the fruit to perfection.
There are currently 118 wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville, a town that has become a mecca for wine enthusiasts throughout the world since Chateau Ste Michelle introduced its first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1976. It took about 30 years for Woodinville to become a wine destination after that point. Columbia Winery moved into Woodinville in 1989, and then in the 1990s, DeLille Cellars, DiStefano Winery, JM Cellars, Betz Family Winery and Novelty Hill Januik arrived.
Woodinville Wine Country is divided into four distinct districts –The Hollywood District, the West Valley District, the Warehouse District and the Downtown District.
They don’t call it Hollywood for nothing. Actually, the name comes not from Tinseltown, but from Woodinville’s landmark Hollywood Schoolhouse — which is where you’ll ﬁnd some of the most educated palates in Washington State.
This is the most camera-ready part of Woodinville Wine Country, sitting right in the heart of the Sammamish River Valley. It’s a place to see and be seen, but in a decidedly Northwest fashion: easy, relaxed, North Face pullover optional. A place of patios, ﬁreplaces, bike trails and pizzerias, but also home to 90+ rated wines, destination restaurants, and the Conde Nast gold-rated Willows Lodge. It all depends on what scene you’re into.
For wining and dining, Hollywood’s selection is deﬁnitely not out of Central Casting. There’s a staggering mix of large and lavish, micro and boutique. This is the crossroads where small, artisan wineries meet some of the biggest names in Washington wine.
Eight-course dining is served right next door to tasty pub grub. The 40-plus wineries/tasting rooms located in the Hollywood District include Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Delille Cellars, Cave B, Airfield Estates, Chandler Reach, Goose Ridge Estate Winery, Dusted Valley, Fidelitas, Betz Family Winery, Brian Carter, Mark Ryan, Purple Café and Wine Bar, Alexandria Nicole, J. Bookwalter, Pepperbridge, Long Shadows..and many more.
For a complete list of all of the wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville, visit: woodinvillewinecountry.com. The site includes a map showing the locations of all 118 wineries and tasting rooms in all four Wine Country districts. It’s a handy resource to find your way around town.
WEST VALLEY DISTRICT
If there’s a new frontier in Woodinville Wine Country, it’s the West Valley District. Settled by a half dozen boutique wineries and distillers along the west side of the Sammamish River, this fast-growing district offers a more wide-open, relaxed atmosphere for your tasting travels.
Hop on Woodinville-Redmond Road at the Hollywood Tavern and head north to ﬁnd wine makers and spirit distillers nestled to the left and right. With fewer wineries, you’ll spend more time at each, and the simple pace pairs well with the complex ﬂavors to be found, making for an experience that both stimulates and unwinds.
It’s enough to work up an appetite, and you couldn’t pick a better spot for one. Circle back to the south and east, and you’ll ﬁnd a veritable cuisine convergence zone: more eateries, pubs and restaurants within half a mile than you can shake a corkscrew at.
Located on the hill above Woodinville and Highway 522, the Warehouse District is a bit like the Meatpacking District of New York. This is a smaller, grittier, no-frills style of winemaking. The results, however, are anything but.
What it lacks in scenery and façade, the Warehouse District more than makes up for in vibe and taste. For wine enthusiasts, there’s a density here that’s to die for. This is the home of more boutique wineries per square foot than any wine region in the world — right in Seattle’s backyard. Let that sink in for a minute, and then ﬁgure the odds you’ll ﬁnd something here you love.
The Warehouse District has become such a popular quarter for winemakers that it’s spawned two adjacent neighborhoods: The Junction and Artisan Hill. The Junction forms the gateway to the Warehouse District with a clutch of stellar wineries sharing space with a trend-bucking craft brewery. It’s a taste island all its own, but also a great prelude to what awaits further down the road.
Artisan Hill lies just south of North Woodinville Way as it winds up the hill. The name is all too ﬁtting, as this burgeoning enclave is home to a growing community of wine and food craftspeople. It’s bursting with distinctive ﬂavors and characters, but it’s easy to miss, so be sure you don’t.
You’ll know when you’ve hit the heart of the Warehouse District because you’ll hear the buzz. With winemakers packed tooth-to-jowl, there’s an energy here that fuels both friendly competition and amazing cooperation. So much so, that you’ll often see wineries borrowing and lending equipment, expertise and manpower to one another — especially at crush season.
This is where the person pouring is often the winemaker himself or herself and the personalities you’ll meet and the methods and opinions they share make the perfect pairing to any glass. You’ll learn as much about the process as you do about the palate. Then, for a completely different experience, simply take ten steps over to the next winemaker.
With so much happening all around Woodinville, don’t sleep on the Downtown District. Truth is, if you haven’t been to downtown Woodinville lately, you really haven’t been there. With a bevy of new food and beverage offerings, it doesn’t just hold its own against the surrounding wine districts, it also makes an ideal place to begin or conclude your wine tasting journey.
No trip downtown is complete without a stop at that shrine to Northwest gardening, Molbak’s Garden & Home. After ogling the annuals, you’ll enjoy an amazing food and wine menu at their Garden Café, a tasty offshoot of nearby Russell’s Restaurant.
Or cross the tracks to the north and ﬁnd a huge selection of food and drink. The food community here just keeps growing, with stalwarts like Pasta Nova and newer venues like Big Fish popping up all the time. With loads of delicious options, plus a winery all its own (Woodinville Wine Cellars), downtown Woodinville has blossomed into a lively, lip-smacking hub from which to explore in nearly every direction.
PASSPORT TO WOODINVILLE
Anyone who was a fan of Woodinville Wine Country from 2002 and 2014 knew about The Passport to Woodinville event, which was held once a year, usually in April. It provided the public with an opportunity to sample many of the area wineries for a single tasting fee.
Participants received a passport filled with labels and information, a glass, and the opportunity to tour many local wineries, some of which were not regularly open to the public.
However, Passport was criticized for limiting people to visiting all of the wineries in a single weekend, which often led to public intoxication and an under-appreciation of the subtle differences in wine flavors. It also put a huge burden on wine tasting rooms, because of the crowds of people swarming the tasting rooms all at once.
In 2016, Passport to Woodinville was reinstated as a year-round event, rather than a single event on a particular weekend. For a yearly Passport fee of around $50 to $60, the buyer is granted a free tasting at all participating wineries listed in a red, life-sized Passport book, which is stamped or signed by each winery to indicate that a free tasting has been redeemed.
The new annual Passport is good at any participating winery during the entire year, except during busy weekends at a small number of select wineries. Because it is distributed year-round instead of concentrated in a single weekend, the new Passport to Woodinville has approximately twice as many participating wineries as the old one (around 60 vs 30).
To purchase a Passport, contact WoodinvilleWineCountry.com or call them at (425) 287-3298.
New Visitor Center
To enhance the experience of wine enthusiasts who come to Woodinville each year to visit the town’s 100-plus wineries, the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new Visitor Center this past September.
Located in the heart of Woodinville’s Hollywood District at 14700 148th Ave. N.E, the Center is open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Visitors’ Center provides a “one-stop shop” for visitors to make the most of their time in Woodinville, from finding the wineries they came to visit, locating the many top restaurants in town…even finding the right flower arrangement or souvenir from Woodinville’s famed Molbak’s Nursery
Because of the ever-growing number of wineries locating in Woodinville, the once sleepy suburban Seattle town has become a year-round magnet for tourists from around the world.
To learn more about the new Visitors’ Center, call (425) 287-6820, or visit: visitwoodinville.org. The Visitors’ Center became a reality because of the combined efforts of the Woodinville Chamber, Visit Woodinville, and the Woodinville Wine Country Association.