The Washington state wine scene, while a much younger industry than its counterparts in California, is catching up fast with the wine industry sitting up and taking notice of the wines produced in this evergreen state.
While most of the grapes are grown inland in the east of the state relatively far from the urban centres of Seattle and Olympia, many vineyards have opted to house their tasting rooms and wine-making operations in Woodinville, which lies just west of Seattle, where most of the state’s population live and work.
While Woodinville is part of the Seattle metropolitan area, it has a small-town feel and attracts busloads of visitors annually wanting to experience the best of what’s on offer in this scenic wine mecca. With its 100 and counting tasting rooms, small boutique experiences and beautiful outdoor offerings, Woodinville wineries make a fabulous day trip or even a weekend away.
So sit back and relax while we provide a cool round-up of the Woodinville winery scene starting with a little background and context before we outline our suggestions on the eight best wineries in Woodinville to visit and what they offer.
But first a little background.
A Little Context
Back in 1981, there were only 19 wineries in Washington. This has grown currently to around 900 wineries and more are being established every month, according to the Washington State Wine Commission.
This extensive growth has placed WA state as the second-largest premium wine producer in the United States, second to California. Add to this that more than half of the wines produced there have been placed in the 90+ category by Wine Spectator. This is high praise indeed.
Ways to taste wine are a year-round experience as wine events are held throughout the year in WA state: From one of the largest Taste Washington held in March, to the Spring Barrel Tasting (April-May), and the Washington State Wine Month in August. Naturally, the wine industry harvests and crushes in October and the year ends with the annual fall barrel tasting in November. Please make a note to check Woodinville wineries’ websites as many, if not most, close during the winter months.
Wonderful Woodinville Wineries
As the majority of Washington vineyards are in the east and most people live in western Washington with the Cascade Mountains in between, winemakers needed to find a way to reach and penetrate the wine-loving market. Woodinville was perfect and Chateau Ste. Michelle became the first winery to establish a presence in the town with its singular chateau style. Columbia Winery followed in 1989 and the rest is, as they say, history.
Woodinville is a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle with umpteen different experiences for the whole family. Woodinville boasts more than 130 wineries. Grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot are widely grown. While Woodinville wineries are known for their production of red wine, very good white and rosé wines are also made here. Malbec and Petit Verdot also feature on Woodinville’s wine scene.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is Woodinville’s largest and most prominent winery. As a result, you can obtain their wine in just about every grocery store in the area. It also happens to be the oldest Woodinville winery originating way back in 1934.
Things To Do
There are artisanal crafts and produce to browse at the Farmers Market, right in the centre of Woodinville, where visitors can buy fresh cut flowers, locally-grown berries, delicious relishes and jams to go with freshly baked bread and pastries.
The Best Wineries In Woodinville You Must Visit
The Woodinville wine scene is said to be unpretentious as Woodinville winemakers are not steeped in wine traditions and subsequently freer than their Californian or French counterparts to be creative and adopt innovative approaches to their winemaking.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
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If you like your wine tasting in a traditional French chateau-like vibe, this is a must for you. The winery is grand and elegant with a majestic tasting room. The winery is located on 105 acres of forested woodland and offers a large range of tasting options from including private library tastings, feature flight patio tastings, and VIP private tasting experiences.
Chateau Ste. Michelle has a beautiful patio and cocktail lounge with the patio boasting a tented section allowing punters to take in the scenery during inclement weather. The winery also hosts events from time to time, such as summer concerts and watercolour painting classes.
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The second oldest winery in Woodinville, Columbia wines are very good with a large portfolio on offer for tastings. Try their Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc, all of which were the first of these varietals in Washington. There is a comfortable and well-appointed tasting room but do make a booking to avoid disappointment. There is a trellised patio that is dog-friendly. They are said to be delicious.
Along with tastings, Columbia Winery also offers wine education classes with Shelly Fitzgerald, a wine education specialist. Visitors wishing to increase their wine knowledge can book a class during their visit.
Novelty Hill-Januik Winery
Novelty Hill and Januik Winery are actually two independent wineries Woodinville WA destinations, but they share a beautiful tasting room and modern winery in Woodinville. Both wineries make fantastic wines thanks to Mike Januik, a highly acclaimed winemaker in Washington.
Novelty Hill-Januik Winery has a state-of-the-art tasting room for visitors, with a casual but elegant atmosphere. They offer various flights, all of which contain 4 wines.
There are beautiful gardens to explore and the secret is definitely out, as tasting bookings are advised, particularly over weekends and holidays.
The traditional tasting costs $15 per guest, while the reserve and single vineyard tastings cost $20 (free with a $35 wine purchase).
Food at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery is wonderful from homemade pizzas to multi-course dinners made by their in-house culinary staff.
Matthews Winery offers great wines and farm-to-table pairings for a delicious experience. All of their wines are made from sustainably grown grapes that have been hand-harvested, resulting in impeccable flavour.
Surrounded by beautiful views of open fields, vineyards, and hills, the estate provides a peaceful and relaxing ambience. Open daily, the tasting room offers tasting by reservation in a spacious tasting room with high ceilings, wooden tables and chairs, a spacious bar, and a modern sound system.
There is a patio and fully organic farm with a lawn and outdoor kitchen. The patio has a tented and uncovered area, as well as heaters and bistro lights, so visitors can still enjoy the outdoors during cooler weather.
Producing high-end Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines, DeLille Cellars offers a contemporary, modern vibe for visitors. More than 700 of their wines have scored 90+ ratings over 27 vintages, a tradition they’ve held since 1992.
Their stylish tasting room is open daily for wine tastings, which include 5 of their Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines. Their wine club members receive an extra pour!
Cheese plates are on offer if the mood takes and a superb lounge/restaurant features a very good menu.
Oh, and did we mention there is live music and a date night offered regularly at this wineries Woodinville WA favourite?
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JM Cellars, are well-known for their award-winning wines and great ambience in their striking black cube building.
The ultra-modern estate is surrounded by trees and foliage with the well-appointed tasting room open for business from Thursdays to Sundays for tastings, glass pours, and in-person visits by reservation.
Their 7-acre arboretum is filled with wonder and tranquillity, as well as bocce courts to fit in some fun activity after a splendid day of wine tasting.
Like many of the best wineries in Woodinville, JM Cellars’ breathtaking estate and grounds are available to hire for private events and weddings.
Airfield Estates Winery
Airfield Estates Winery has a few tasting rooms dotted all over the US, including one in Woodinville.
The winery’s history dates back to 1907 and they first started planting grapes in 1967. They now have 830 acres of wine grapes and 250 acres of Concord juice grapes.
The Woodinville tasting room offers wine tastings, wine by the glass, and venue rentals. It has a cosy atmosphere and very well-trained and accommodating staff.
Tastings cost $15 (waived with wine purchase) and can be enjoyed inside or outside on the winery’s expansive patio, which is also dog-friendly. In addition to tastings, the winery has a gift shop that stocks a collection of gifts and souvenirs.
Mark Ryan Winery
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With its contemporary and modern feel, great decor and relaxing ambience, Mark Ryan Winery just could be the cherry on the top of Woodinville wineries.
Producing small-batch wines, Mark Ryan Winery aims for quality and flavour above quantity. The winery first began in 1999 with just a few tons of grapes in one of their friend’s garages. Currently, it is one of the most acclaimed of Woodinville wineries.
Its tasting room features edgy decor with motorcycle and rock music iconic decor that has a masculine vibe but is not too over the top. It’s casual and welcoming, a really great hang out to taste good wine.
So, if you find yourself in the Pacific North West and the beautiful city of Seattle, head out for the day. You won’t be disappointed with the best wineries in Woodinville.
Born amidst the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley, Chloe’s love for wine was instilled from a young age. This passion led her to the picturesque wine regions of France, where she immersed herself in the rich wine culture and traditions.
Chloe’s dedication to the craft culminated in her becoming a wine sommelier, a testament to her deep knowledge and appreciation for wines.