Walla Walla wine country is only 4 hours from Seattle. Cross the mountain pass and you’re in Eastern Washington with a completely different climate and landscape than the Western side of the state. With its arid farm land, hot Summer sun and cold Winter weather, the Walla Walla Valley and the other 12 American Viticultural Areas of Washington State are producing some of the world’s top wines. And while Washington State’s wine industry is relatively young, it is the nation’s second largest wine producer.
Recently some girlfriends and I decided to take a trip over to Walla Walla to eat, drink and be merry. We are all wine drinkers and food lovers and thought it might be a fun, quick trip away for the weekend. There are a number of different hotels in town, but we decided to rent a little cottage about a mile outside of the main downtown area which was perfect. We set up a wine tour for Saturday afternoon, they came to pick us up right on time and the adventure began!
The first winery we visited was Amavi Cellars. We had heard that from the deck outside their tasting room you could see almost every other winery we’d be visiting that day, so thought it would be a great way to get the lay of the land. Amavi’s Syrah is their flagship wine and we figured out why with our first sip. With a few wines to taste, some incredibly comfortable chairs, a nice breeze and a beautiful view, we ended up lingering at Amavi for quite a while before moving on to our next stop.
The second winery of the day was the Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard and Winery, a Spanish-style winery known for their Tempranillo. Here we sampled a number of different wines including the light and refreshing “Miercoles” blend and a nice Malbec. At the end of our tasting, we even ordered a pitcher of cold sangria which we enjoyed on their beautiful patio. It was very hot outside at this point in the day, but they have misters surrounding the patio area to keep you cool while you sip your beverages. A great place to relax!
Next up on our itinerary was Dusted Valley. They had been one of my favorites at Taste Washington this past March so we made sure to include them on our list. Dusted Valley had a fantastic lineup of wines to taste, from a cool and refreshing Rosé all the way to the “BFM Bordeaux” Merlot Blend. We heard quite a few different takes on the acronym, the most popular being “blow your freaking mind”. Dusted Valley has a small, no frills tasting room but they are serious about their wines and have a fun and knowledgeable staff there to tell you everything you want to know. They also provided us with a dinner recommendation for the night (Whitehouse-Crawford) and our next tasting room, Rotie Cellars.
Rotie Cellars tasting room is in the middle of the small downtown Walla Walla stretch, right near all of the shops and restaurants and conveniently located for our last stop before dinner. They were recommended to us thanks to their recent stellar Wine Advocate reviews and we instantly discovered why they came so highly rated. Each wine we tasted was absolutely amazing, paying homage to wines of the Rhone Valley. The staff there was easy to talk to and explained the background of the winery, their growing regions and what makes their former-geologist-turned-winemaker owner so adept at creating such brilliant wines. A perfect way to cap off our day of tasting.
If you’re looking to take a quick weekend trip to Washington wine country, I highly recommend checking out all that Walla Walla has to offer. If you’re in Seattle this coming November or next March, check out two fantastic events that bring many Washington wineries together in one spot- 20something – The New Vintage and Taste Washington! Which Washington wineries and growing regions are your favorite? I’d love to hear about them for my next trip!