How to Plan a Washington Wine Tasting Tour
The state of Washington welcomes visitors all year long but the summer months see the greatest number of tourists. Some things to keep in mind when planning Washington wine tours. The Puget Sound area has a cool, wet climate but summers are usually dry, warm and low in humidity. Eastern Washington is typically extremely dry in the summer months with hot temperatures. Winter conditions can vary greatly and many wineries have limited hours or are closed. For detailed tourist information visit the Washington Wine Commission. Appointments may be required for some wineries and tasting fees are common.
Driving the Wine Routes
Puget Sound Wine Tours
The City of Seattle is a major metropolitan area with typical traffic congestion. The ideal wine tour destination is the town of Woodinville, just a 30-minute drive north of Seattle. With over 45 wineries and good tourist amenities it offers the greatest concentration of wineries in the region. For maps, winery information as well as local events, see the web site Woodinville Wine Country. Other wineries in the Puget Sound region are spread throughout the area and may require driving significant distances. A designated driver is highly recommended.
Columbia Gorge Wine Tours
The Columbia Gorge wine region is located approximately 225 miles (362 kilometers) south and east of Seattle or 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Portland, Oregon. The area is accessible by major highways. The town of Hood River, Oregon offers a good central location for wine tours as well as lodging and restaurants. Windsurfing, hiking and many other outdoor activities are also available. For a map and information about local wineries visit Columbia River Gorge.
Walla Walla Valley Wine Tours
The southeast corner of Washington is the location of the Walla Walla Valley. From Seattle, it is approximately 270 miles (435 kilometers) or 4-5 hours driving time. From Portland, Oregon the distance is about 240 miles (386 kilometers). The City of Walla Walla is a charming tourist destination that offers a variety of lodging, fine-dining and shopping. Free maps and extensive information about the area are available from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.
Yakima Valley Wine Tours
A one hour drive east from Walla Walla will put you at the far eastern end of the Yakima Valley wine region. For the widest range of lodging, restaurants and tourist amenities, the Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland are a good choice. The wineries of the Red Mountain AVA and Rattlesnake Hills AVA are within the Yakima Valley AVA. Information and maps are available at Wine Yakima Valley for the entire valley as well as more detailed maps for Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail. The Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope areas offer a very limited number of wine tour options. For more information see Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers or Washington Wine Commission.
Organized Washington Wine Tours
One of the best ways to enjoy a superb wine country experience is with an organized tour. In even the smallest wine regions, tour operators offer a wide range of options from small private custom tours to bus tours that can accommodate large groups. To fully enjoy wine country without worrying about drinking and driving or getting lost, an organized tour is ideal. Most hotels and B&Bs can help arrange a guided tour for you or try these resources:
Washington State is located on the U.S. Pacific Coast and borders Canada on the north, Oregon to the south and Idaho to the west. Wine regions are spread out over large distances and traveling to every wine region in the state in a single visit would require a leisurely stay. Travelers flying to Washington will find the city of Seattle is the market with the largest number of flights but commercial air service is also available to many other smaller cities throughout the state. Another good option for air travel is Portland, Oregon especially for those who wish to visit the Columbia River Gorge and Eastern Washington via car.