A food-and-wine playground ripens in Seattle’s backyard.
In many respects, the Woodinville wine scene reflects the incredible growth of the Pacific Northwest’s wine industry. This otherwise suburban setting, about 20 miles northeast of Seattle, is home to not one, but two wine-tasting districts. And overall, the town boasts about 115 total wineries and tasting rooms, compared to just 20 or so in the mid-2000s.
Dozens of Eastern Washington wineries have opened tasting rooms in the walkable Hollywood district, home to the granddaddy of Washington’s wine industry, Chateau Ste. Michelle, aka CSM. (The Hollywood district takes its name from the holly trees planted in the early 1900s on the estate that later became CSM).
In the aptly named Warehouse district, about 3 miles away, dozens of artisan producers are making wine with grapes shipped in from Eastern Washington. Most Warehouse district wineries offer on-site tastings on weekends only, or by appointment. However, a few have opened Hollywood district tasting rooms that are open throughout the week.
A wide range of restaurants are located among and near the tasting rooms. These include an array of easy-to-get-to options in the Hollywood district. And a growing number of craft beer, cider and spirit producers are adding to the fun. Bonus: The Hollywood district also became the new long-term home of Teatro ZinZanni this past winter.
Also in the Hollywood district, the country-chic Willows Lodge offers an ideal wine-country escape. In nearby Bothell, the McMenamins group tranformed a shuttered middle school into a hotel and entertainment center. The McMenamins Anderson School grounds comprise a 72-room hotel, multiple bars and restaurants, a movie theater and an indoor swimming pool. After these two properties, lodging in the immediate area gets tricky. But the tasting rooms are pretty easy to reach from Kirkland, Bellevue and Seattle. (Be smart: Designate a driver or hire a ride service when heading over.) And a growing number of tour companies offer pickup and drop-off at hotels in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and elsewhere.
No, they don’t grow wine grapes in Woodinville. But the wineries have tapped into elements from the area’s agricultural past. This includes setting up shop in repurposed farm houses, cottages and other buildings, such as the historic Hollywood Schoolhouse (pictured above). By doing so, they are keeping the “country” in this truly unique wine country destination. Map it.