Wine, food and country charm create a complete experience.
The fun in Walla Walla wine country begins in the city’s historic downtown. There, you’ll find about 30 tasting rooms, interspersed among shops, cafés and restaurants in century-old brick buildings. Most noteworthy among these are Rotie Cellars, Mark Ryan Winery, Charles Smith Wines and Browne Family Vineyards. But you can barely walk a block without passing another spot to sample.
When you’re ready for wine tasting among the Walla Walla Valley’s vineyards, head south to J.B. George Road, home to Amavi Cellars (pictured above), Pepper Bridge, Va Piano and others. Or head west, to Lowden, where the highlights include Woodward Canyon and L’Ecole No. 41, the area’s second and third modern wineries. Both date back to the early 1980s.
Local trivia: Gary Figgins established Walla Walla’s first modern winery, Leonetti Cellar, in 1977. The label is now part of Figgins Family Wine Estates, led by Gary’s son Chris Figgins. Due to the fact that these wines sell out so quickly, Leonetti does not operate a tasting room.
Dining, lodging and ride services
The opening of two restaurants in downtown’s renovated train depot, following a massive renovation, re-energized the area’s dining scene. Of the two, Walla Walla Steak Co. offers a dark, intimate setting. While its sister establishment, Crossbuck Brewing, is a bright, casual brewpub. Among downtown’s most-respected restaurants, Passatempo Taverna (rustic Italian), Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen (southern European/north African) and Brasserie Four (French) bring international influences to the table. Because Walla Walls is also a college town (Whitman College, Walla Walla University and a community college), several fun, casual options are also available.
Eritage Resort, which opened last summer on a 300-acre vineyard and wheat farm north of downtown, brings an exclusive element to the area’s lodging scene. Its 10 rooms and 10 villas, alongside a picturesque manmade lake, each offer stylish modern design. In addition, the resort’s on-site restaurant, open to non-resort guests for dinner, offers exquisite Northwest cuisine.
A variety of other lodging options are also available in and near town. These range from the historic (Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center) to the romantic (Cameo Heights Mansion) to the serviceable (a few national brands are represented). Plus, attractive options are also available through Airbnb and VRBO.
Wine Country 2 Go and Main Street Drivers offer two of the more interesting—and affordable—ride-service options. Each allows you to hire a driver to drive you in your own car (or rental) to the wineries. Overall, you’ll find 20 tour and transportation companies listed on Visit Walla Walla’s website.
Walla Walla is about 270 miles southeast of Seattle and 250 miles east of Portland. Alaska Airlines serves Walla Walla Regional Airport (ALW) with flights from Seattle. Also: Alaska waives baggage fees for mileage-plan members for up to one case of wine, and offers other benefits, in select wine regions, including Walla Walla. Alaska and Delta Airlines both serve Tri-Cities Airport (PSC), about 50 miles west of Walla Walla. Map it.