A Guide to Wine Tasting in Washington

The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of winery activity. There’s the Willamette Valley, home to some of the best Pinot Noir in the world.

Then there’s Walla Walla, Washington, which is known for producing some excellent Merlot. And, of course, there’s Washington state’s Columbia Valley, where many top-notch Rieslings are produced.

With so many great options there really is no shortage of choices when looking to experience the best wine tasting in Washington.

I really wish I would have taken advantage of more of these wineries when I was living in Portland, Oregon, but I was young and thought I had plenty of time.

Now I kick myself just thinking about it. You don’t want to miss out on this part of the country if you love wine as much as I do.

Best Places to Go for Wine Tasting in Washington

  1. Cave B Estate
  2. Chateau Ste. Michelle
  3. Novelty Hill – Januik
  4. Canoe Ridge Vineyard
  5. Airfield Estates
  6. Barnard Griffin Winery
  7. L’Ecole No. 41
  8. Col Solare

1. Cave B Estate

cave b estate
Image: caveb

When Vince and Carol Bryan first started growing grapes 40 years ago, there were only 13 wineries in the whole state.

Their intention was to sell their grapes to the other wineries. It didn’t take long for them to realize that what they really wanted to do was make their own wine.

The gorgeous natural setting and the landscape of their property lend themselves well to growing grapes and producing wine. They now have a stunning tasting room where you can sample their wines while enjoying the view.

As the Cascade range tumbles through the backdrop, you can enjoy their handmade amphitheater, where they frequently have live music. Sit on the grass and enjoy your wine while you pass the time away, or stroll through one hundred acres of vineyards.

The owners have painstakingly planted their vines according to where they’ll grow best, with red varieties closer to the river and white varieties planted to the east, where it’s cooler with a shorter growing season.

They know how to bring out the best in every wine they make, and you’ll never have a better Riesling.

2. Chateau Ste. Michelle

chateau ste. michelle
Image: ste-michelle

Remember when I said you’ll never have a better Riesling? Well, I didn’t exactly lie, but Chateau Ste. Michelle is a close second, and it’s distributed nationwide so you can get it at your local store! Even better, I say.

However, if you want to get it from the source, you’ll have to visit their amazing winery in Woodinville, Washington. The grounds are gorgeous and the tasting room is top-notch. They often have special events and live music, so it’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

The Columbia Valley is home to some of the best Riesling in the world and Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the biggest producers in the area.

They also make some great red wines and the grounds are simply majestic. This is a huge production facility, so there is no shortage of things to experience while you’re here, including:

  • Picnics on the lawn
  • Private cabanas
  • Grand Estate tours
  • Secret Garden indoor tastings
  • Library tastings
  • Private VIP tastings
  • Winemaker for a day
  • Brunch boxes
  • Charcuterie making experiences

You can really make a day of it here. Just, you know, don’t drive home after.

3. Novelty Hill – Januik

novelty hill
Image: noveltyhilljanuik

If you’re looking for a modern spin on the winery experience, this swanky joint is calling your name. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Novelty Hill – Januik is a great place to spend an afternoon.

The winemaking facility is top-notch and the tasting room is something out of a magazine. They have an extensive wine list, so you’re sure to find something you like. They also have a great food menu, which pairs perfectly with their wines.

They use local, farm-fresh ingredients and focus on a Northwest-style cuisine, curated by none other than their in-house chef. Their tasting room experts are happy to suggest a wine and food pairing for you.

I will say that their story is a bit unusual. Novelty Hill and Januik are two separate wineries that formed a partnership in 2000.

Mike Januik is one of the world’s most renowned winemakers, and when he consulted with Stillwater Creek Vineyard owners on their vineyard, he was intrigued by what the landscape offered.

He urged them to form a partnership with a shared Novelty Hill tasting room destination.

4. Canoe Ridge Vineyard

canoe ridge vineyard
Image: canoeridgevineyard

The Canoe Ridge Vineyard tasting room is located in downtown Walla Walla, but you also don’t want to miss the Barrel Room.

It’s located in what used to be the town’s streetcar and train facility in the early 1900s and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Canoe Ridge focuses on making only a few different varietals and doing it well. They feature Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, a few red blends, and a small production of Chardonnay.

They’ve perfected the process and are passionate about doing industry research to find new ways to improve their farming, processes, and wines.

5. Airfield Estates

airfield estates
Image: airfieldwines

Airfield Estates is a unique winery experience because it’s located in an airport. It’s no longer a working airport, but the aviation history here is where they got their name. Founder H. Lloyd Miller acquired the land and the buildings for $1 in the 1940s.

The airfield was built in 1907, and in 1941, it was turned into a flight school for the war. After the war was over, all of the buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder, which means Miller got a heck of a deal.

He turned the location into his farm and installed irrigation systems. When his son became interested in growing grapes, they planted three varietals in 1967. By 1971, they had a commercial planting. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, they have 30 different red and white wines, but if you join the Officer’s Wine Club, it will give you exclusive access to even more!

You can enjoy wine and music in the vines, a taste from the cellar, wine release parties, and blending events. They also have some pretty cool merch.

6. Barnard Griffin Winery

barnard griffin winery
Image: barnardgriffin

Nestled in the heart of Washington wine country, Barnard Griffin Winery is a must-visit. They’ve been around since 1983 and have won over 700 awards for their wines.

Their focus is on Rhone varietals, which means they make a lot of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Viognier. They also make some red blends, as well as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Their tasting room is open every day from 11 am to 5 pm and they offer a wide variety of wines by the glass or bottle. If you’re feeling hungry, they have a small food menu with items like cheese plates, charcuterie, and bruschetta.

7. L’Ecole No. 41

l'ecole no. 41
Image: lecole

L’Ecole No. 41 is one of Washington’s most iconic wineries. It was founded in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson, and they were one of the first wineries to plant vines in the Walla Walla Valley.

The name comes from the old French-Canadian schoolhouse that is on the property.

They make a wide variety of wines, but they’re best known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. They also make some great red blends, as well as white wines like Chardonnay and Riesling.

In the summer of 2022, they will be hosting a Rhone River Cruise through the south of France where travelers will enjoy two L’Ecole No. 41 bottles in their stateroom, three tasting seminars, and three L’Ecole No. 41 paired dinners.

8. Col Solare

col solare
Image: colsolare

This vineyard and winery is a collaboration of two of the most influential winemakers in the industry.

When Marchese Piero Antinori came to Washington in 1992, he discovered a region flourishing under the leadership of Chateau Ste. Michelle consultant, Andre Tchelistcheff. The two decided to plant vines and make wine together, and Col Solare was born.

They focus on making Bordeaux-style wines, and their flagship wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. They also make a white wine blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon.

They provide private barrel room tours and tastings and estate vineyard tours and tastings. This winery is most known for their exceptional attention to detail and high-quality wines.

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