Woodinville & Western Washington Wineries
Puget Sound Wineries
The Puget Sound wine appellation covers a vast area from the U.S.-Canadian border in the north, to below the state capital of Olympia, in the south. On the east it skirts along the foothills of the Cascades and reaches west to the fringe of the Olympic Peninsula. Although it covers a wide swath of territory and contains upward of 100 wineries, only a tiny fraction actually make wine using grapes grown within the area. Two factors that are critical to Washington wine are at work here – proximity to the main population center and geography.
Around 80% of Washington’s 6.5 million residents live in the western half of the state. The Puget Sound region has the highest population density, making it an appealing location for wineries interested in tourism and retail sales. It’s also where winemaking began in the state, but when it comes to wine quality and volume, the sparsely populated eastern half of the state is the runaway leader. Keep in mind that most of the wines made in the Puget Sound AVA (American Viticultural Area) use grapes grown in Eastern Washington.
For wine tourists who visit the Puget Sound area, the town of Woodinville, located just a half-hour north of downtown Seattle is the place to head for visiting a cluster of over 45 wineries, wine bars, shops and restaurants. Among the wineries not to be missed is Chateau Ste Michelle. In continuous production since 1934, it is the oldest winery in the state and one of the most beloved among both consumers and critics. Chateau Ste Michelle offers a rare combination of great wine and outstanding tourist facilities including its outdoor concert series that hosts top-flight recording artists each year.
Other wineries to visit in Woodinville include Columbia Winery, mostly for historical significance, Betz Family Winery, noted for outstanding Syrah and Bordeaux-style blends and DeLille Cellars, another highly-rated boutique favorite. DeLille also produces two other stellar labels, Doyenne and Grand Ciel. New to the Woodinville tasting room scene is Januik Winery, but owner/winemaker Mike Januik was the winemaker at Chateau Ste Michelle for many years and his full portfolio of Columbia Valley wines have received excellent reviews.
Exciting small producers like JM Cellars, Mark Ryan Winery, Sparkman Cellars, Stevens Winery, Cullin Hills, Gorman Winery and many more are all based in Woodinville and offer wines well worth sampling but availability can be limited and tourist amenities vary.
Seattle, Tacoma and Western Washington
Scattered throughout the Puget Sound area, Washington wineries of every stripe and size can be found tucked into urban landscapes or nestled in remote corners of islands only accessible by ferry. Although many small wineries are experimenting with cooler-climate varietals like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and lesser-known white varietals, the story of wine in the western half of Washington continues to be all about grapes grown in the eastern part of the state.