Woodinville is a wine mecca in Washington State, conveniently located just 20 miles from Seattle. While most of the viticulture occurs in the southeast, in places like the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla, much of the production and pouring occurs west of the Cascades in Woodinville. So many, in fact, that you could spend weeks here and not visit the same winery twice.
In wine circles, Woodinville doesn’t quite sound the same as the Willamette Valley or Sonoma. But there’s no denying the expansive scene here, full of interesting players working to further elevate the Pacific Northwest’s already dizzying beverage circuit. More than 130 labels strut their stuff here, amid three distinct neighborhoods in the region. Even cooler, tasters have access to a hugely diverse scene, featuring works from all corners of Washington State (which has 19 U.S. wine zones, and counting).
Here are some outfits that do just that, plus some tips on where to eat and stay when you go. And don’t forget to check with wineries and tasting rooms beforehand to see if reservations are needed or what COVID protocols might be in place.
Cellars of Lille
A classic Washington label, FromLille is a must visit for any wine lover, even remotely near Woodinville. Three decades of experience have allowed the label to master the Rhône and Bordeaux varietals in particular, made from fruit grown in some of the West Coast’s most renowned vineyards. DeLille is particularly interested in Red Mountain AVA, one of the most fascinating wines in the American wine world and one that will require special attention in the future. The three-story tasting room at Woodinville is architecturally stunning – the perfect backdrop for the brand’s fine wine portfolio.
The motto of this well-respected outfit is “Elegantly Towards Excellence”, which pretty much sums it up. It’s a sommelier-run winery, with Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen at the helm. His work is certainly elegant, and it starts with terrific fruit from vineyards like Boushey in the Yakima Valley and some even across the border, like Seven Springs in the Willamette Valley. You can taste the care and passion that goes into the bottle. If you like Rhône wines or a good pinot noir or chenin blanc, this place will seduce you.
There aren’t enough black-owned beverage companies in this country, let alone women-run wineries in Washington. Lashelle is all of the above, producing delicious pink wines as well as classic reds like Mourvèdre, Malbec and Cab. Winemaker Nicole Camp got her start with mead a few decades ago before studying wine and eventually opening her tasting room in Woodinville on June 19 last year.
Many consider JM Cellars a must visit in Woodinville, and we can’t argue with that. The setting is remarkable, landscaped with walking paths that wind through an arboretum on the estate, as well as a fantastic patio and rustic tasting room. Look for memorable red blends, as well as more experimental dishes, like amphora-aged Pinot Noir, Grenache Blanc, and Carmenere. Those who cannot can still play pétanque while tasting, weather permitting.
Tsillan is actually headquartered in Lake Chelan, a scenic and up-and-coming wine country in central Washington. It has long been a country of orchards, but it is increasingly known for its high altitude wine offerings. Fortunately, Tsillan has an outpost in Woodinville, where they pour cooler climate wines like Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. They even produce quality sparkling wines as well as a good Merlot.
Like DeLille, Januik operates in a modern, immaculately clean facility, with wines as beautiful as the surroundings. There are actually two labels at work here (Novelty Hill being the sibling), which means visitors have access to a pair of wine ranges. Winemaker Mike Januik has been working here since 1984, enjoying close ties to famous winemakers on the hotter, driest side of the state. Look for excellent vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon as well as smaller batches of Cabernet Franc, Grenache and more.
There’s also a thriving spirits and beer scene, with places like Woodinville Whiskey Company produce quality items. For exceptional beer and cider, step into Craft Brewery. You’ll find things like Belgian Wits and Strawberry Goses on tap in a space that’s become a real civic heartbeat of the Woodinville landscape.
If you’re looking to make it a weekend or a week, the temptation will be well-earned to stay in Seattle. After all, the metropolis is a 20-minute drive away and is full of amazing hotels and rentals (including stellar houseboats). Additionally, the Emerald City is home to Canlis, a world-class restaurant with one of the strongest wine lists in the country.
But maybe you don’t want to deal with traffic or drive a lot because the wine is in the picture. For those looking to keep things straight, we suggest the willow pavilion for the full resort and spa treatment, not to mention quality catering. For a more intimate stay, discover the pastoral Cottage Lake Bed & Breakfast.