Travel and Taste
A Food and Wine Weekend in Charming Woodinville, Washington
By Marguerite Cleveland
Amidst the Sammamish River Valley sits the charming town of Woodinville. With over 130 tasting rooms, Woodinville, Washington, is a wine drinker’s heaven. There are four distinct wine districts each with their own vibe. If you want to learn more about wine production, head to the Warehouse District for a behind-the-scenes look. For city lovers, the Downtown District has lots of new tasting rooms, breweries, shopping and restaurants. The West Valley District is situated on the west side of the Sammamish River and has a slower, more relaxed atmosphere with the tasting rooms spread out. The landmark Hollywood School is where the Hollywood District gets its name. For a food and wine weekend, Hollywood is where you want to be with a Conde Nast gold-rated resort, destination restaurants and more than 40 tasting rooms within walking distance.
Where to Stay
For a high-end super luxurious stay, the Willows Lodge is a gold-rated Conde Nast resort on 5 beautifully landscaped acres within walking distance of the Hollywood District. The private patios overlook the peaceful gardens dominated by old-growth trees. Truly a special place and worth the splurge.
It can be challenging to find lodging in Woodinville, especially during busy fall weekends. Just a 10-minute drive, the Hilton Garden Inn Redmond Town Center is more like a boutique hotel with its modern, upscale décor. It is a great option, and if you don’t feel like driving, there are a variety of transport options on the Woodinville Wine Country website.
Where to Eat
So many great choices from charcuterie boards at wineries to multicourse fine dining can all be found in the Hollywood District. For fine dining, The Barking Frog elevates the farm-to-table experience with creative menu items and gorgeous presentations. Executive Chef Bobby Moore and team are inspired by fresh, local ingredients and the cultural diversity of the Pacific Northwest. Make sure to try the Penn Cove Mussels in a flavorful curry broth. Divine!
Heritage Restaurant is chef and owner Breanna Beike’s baby. She serves up elevated comfort food moderately priced at this local favorite. Her food is seriously good. Her Citrus Honey-Brined Half Chicken is a work of art. The roast chicken’s crisp, caramel-hued skin is served with in-season vegetables, cheddar whipped potatoes and a rich, red wine-enhanced chicken jus.
Foodie nirvana is a wine bar with great food. The Purple Café & Wine Bar offers an extensive wine list. The wine flights are themed small pours of three different wines; just enough, and you can pair one with each course. The café is known for its Baked Brie, which is a wonder of gooey melted cheese smothered with apricot, caramelized onions and candied walnuts encased in pastry. It is served with fruit and crackers. The dine-in menu has a wide variety of starters that are perfect to share with your table and make a meal out of it. This gives you the opportunity to try a variety of food and wine pairings.
What to Do
Frankly, visitors come to Woodinville to drink wine, so that should be the focus of your visit. With 130-plus tasting rooms, it can be overwhelming. Plan to visit one in the morning followed by a great lunch, then visit two in the afternoon. In the Hollywood District you can easily fit in more with so many wineries right next to each other, but it will give you a much less relaxed experience. Also, with COVID-19 protocols, it is not as easy to just drop in and taste. Research prior to your visit and make reservations for the places you want to try to avoid disappointment.
Here are three worth trying. Dusted Valley is a family owned business creating the American Dream. With a dentist in the family, wine-stained teeth have inspired the names of both wines and the Stained Tooth Wine Club Society. Good wine grows in the vineyards, and Dusted Valley’s sustainable farming practices are creating excellent fruit. The 2018 Stained Tooth Syrah is a standout with its rich purple hue. It is a gorgeous wine of 97 percent Syrah with a 3 percent hint of Viognier.
Lauren Ashton Cellars is in the Apple Farm Village, a darling collection of historic cottages that are nestled in beautiful gardens, which give outdoor space to the tasting rooms. Kit Singh, owner of Lauren Ashton Cellars, is a gifted winemaker who crafts beautifully nuanced wines with his own take on the French style of winemaking. Singh makes both red and white wines, but he produces a greater variety of whites than most Washington winemakers. For those who love white wine, you will have a difficult time choosing your favorite. A unique wine worth trying is the 2020 Roussanne, as Singh is one of the few in Washington who creates a wine from this complex white grape varietal, which is indigenous to the Rhone Valley of France. Its delicate flavor pairs perfectly with shellfish.
The tasting room for Obelisco Estate is also at the Apple Farm Village. General manager and winemaker Ken Abbott carries on the legacy of his uncle, famed winemaker Doug Long, while continuing to work with Aunt Betsy Long. They are known for their big, bold Red Mountain (AVA) reds, and you are going to want to take home a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or a red blend to age for a special occasion. Abbott also makes some unique wines such as a Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is 100 percent juice unlike most Rosés which have water added. The winery staff have dubbed it the “Brose” due to its big fruit flavor while remaining dry. It is the “white wine” for red wine drinkers. Another unusual wine is the Late Harvest Cabernet, which is sweet enough to be a dessert wine. At the end of the harvest season, Abbott and all the staff pick the final grapes of the season for this wine.
Before visiting Woodinville, take the time to visit the Woodinville Wine Country website and view the event calendar. There is usually something going on every weekend. A fun activity is Yoga and Wine at Gard Vintners Woodinville. You’ll take a yoga class which is a mixture of Hatha and Vinyasa followed by a wine tasting flight or glass of wine. On Friday evenings, check the schedule for happy hours with live music at a tasting room. If you feel like getting some outside time, walk the Sammamish River Trail, which, as its name suggests, follows the river.
Insider Tip: If you are new to wine tasting, make your first stop the iconic Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. This gorgeous chateau hosts multiple tasting rooms and offers a variety of wine experiences and classes which will increase your wine education.
Where to Stay
The Willows Lodge - WillowsLodge.com
Hilton Garden Inn Redmond Town Center - Hilton.com
Where to Eat
The Barking Frog - WillowsLodge.com/barking_frog
Heritage Restaurant - HeritageWoodinville.com
Purple Café & Wine Bar - PurpleCafe.com/woodinville
What to Do
Yoga and Wine - YogaWineatGard.eventbrite.com
Lauren Ashton Cellars - LaurenAshtonCellars.com
Obelisco Estate - Obelisco.com
Dusted Valley - DustedValley.com