Make Way for a Walla Walla Weekend!

If you enjoy wine, cycling, fun restaurants and small towns, Walla Walla should be on you Must-See list!  Take a look at the top 10 reasons why you’ll want to visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Wineries!

The American Indians that discovered this ‘”valley of waters” coined the name, but water is not what this valley is most famous for.  This is part of America’s breadbasket, and the top-shelf wheat that is produced here can be found in bread around the world.  walla walla wineries

In more recent times however, it was discovered that the climate, the geography, and the soils are perfect for viticulture – the art and science of growing the fruit that goes into wine. In fact, some of the very best wines on the planet are now produced here, and I am happy to report that this place just keeps getting better and better all the time.

It is a delightful place for a gal’s getaway or romantic weekend away from the day to day – here are the top 10 things that we discovered…must-see wineries, restaurants, and a more!

Top 10 Reasons to visit and Walla Walla Wineries

1.  Farmhouses

These farmhouses have been historically preserved, and now serve as charming wine tasting, bed + breakfast venues.  Woodward Canyon is located in this delightful turn of the century, porch-fronted farm family home.

walla walla wineries

2.  Longshadows Winery

The scenic drive from Seattle to Walla Walla Washington is a 4-5 hour trek.   On a sunny weekend in August, we made it in four – just in time to get to our first appointment:  Long Shadows winery.

walla walla wineries

Several wine-savvy friends had suggested that this place is a must-see, and it did not take us long to appreciate why.

The winery has not one, but many individual world-class winemakers that are selected for their expertise in a particular varietal.  Every premium wine in the flight was unique and exquisite, from Poet’s Leap, Chester Kidder, Sequel, Pirouette, Feather, Pedestal to Saggi.  One of our favorites was the Saggi, but each one was delightful and in hindsight, we wish that we had purchased more than one of each.   Of course, it’s all about the exquisite wine, but the winery itself is modern, elegant and first rate, and they have a wonderful display of Chihuly glass.

walla walla wineries

Located at Long Shadows the winery is not open to the public, but they will honor a private appointment if you e-mail or call, and tell them that Global Adventuress sent you.  Ask for Jeff, he is wonderful.

3.  L’Ecole 41

Next stop was the little schoolhouse known as District No. 41.  Yes, this really was a functioning schoolhouse, at a time in history when the valley of Walla Walla Washington was almost solely focused on wheat farming.  The structure has been lovingly renovated, and the historical photos that adorn the walls of this charming little house of learning radiate the pride of a cohesive farming community, decades before the first grape vine was planted. walla walla wineries

The winery is known for producing some really exceptional wines from Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley, but our favorite was the Columbia Valley Cabernet. walla walla wineries

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and of course, the wine is excellent.  What we loved just as much however, is the charm, the authenticity, and the history that lives here.  Bookshelves, chalk board and little bits of history line the walls, and the bar itself is a chalkboard, where customers leave their mark.  This winery was definitely in our top five picks of the weekend.

Enough about wine for the moment, we will get back to that.  Walla Walla is rural and the real focus is on the science of agriculture.  Cows and sheep and horses and chickens are everywhere.  What a wonderful way to get away from the city.

4.  Open Spaces, Charming Places

The wine produced in Walla Walla is impressive, but this corner of the world has much more to offer.  The geography, the stunning vistas that seem to go on forever, the rural hospitality and very friendly people are just a few
of the many reasons to visit this charming corner of the world.  Wheat fields go on forever, on the planes and up into the mountain hills, sometimes it seems, to the end of the earth – or at least, as far as the eye can see.

walla walla wineries

5.  Garrison Creek Winery

Fields of grape varietals intermingle with the omnipotent fields of wheat in this arid Garden of Eden.

walla walla wineries

Trepidatious and fearful cows stand at attention after retreating from a visitor ready to take a snapshot.

walla walla wineries

Of all the wineries that we visited –nine in two days! — Garrison Creek takes the prize for best wine, best tour, AND most interesting structure.  That is quite a complement, given the competition.
David March will offer a private tour and wine tasting.  He grew up working the wheat fields and later returned with a good buddy and business partner to plant grapes.

Garrison Creek – a $14 Million Dollar facility styled after a Dutch Farmhousewalla walla wineries

Interior of Garrison Creek: massive old growth timber, made to last a lifetime.walla walla wineries

David March, the winemaker, gave us a one hour tour of this amazing facility, including a taste of some of the best ripening Syrah and Cab that we have ever had the pleasure of sampling out of premier French oak barrels that are used only once before being sold to junior wineries.  This boutique winery has the luxury of aging the wine for three years in these oak containers, and then another three before it goes to market.  You won’t find a bottle of this wine on any store shelf earlier than six years.

Garrison Creek Winemaker David March, pulling nectar from the barrel. walla walla wineries

6.  Walla Walla Vintners

Any Seattle wine lover will tell you that this classic winery produces some of the best cabernet and cabernet franc on the planet.  What we did not know is how many other great varietals they have mastered, from malbec, merlot, sangiovese, syrah and specially crafted Bordeaux blends.

The tasting room has many varietals to sample.

walla walla wineries

Acres of lavender dot the landscape at Walla Walla Winery.  The first thing we noticed on approach to this modest, but delightful locale, was the massive field of Lilac.walla walla wineries

7.  Waters Winery

Water is what helped create the town of Walla Walla, but it’s the wine that is making it a world-class destination. The winery at Waters is one of so many boutique wineries that produce delectable lovely reds.  Located near the Oregon border, the facility is worth a bit of extra travel.

walla walla wineries

 

8.  Cayuse Winery

Another wonderful winery is Cayuse.  Christophe Baron came from France and planted his grapes not in wheat fields but rocky soil resulting in highly stressed vines which produce a wonderful mineral identity and amazing Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Grenache, Merlot and Viognier.   Cayuse isn’t open to the public and they currently have a long waiting list, but it’s worth the wait.

9.  Whitehouse Crawford

You can’t miss out on the wonderful restaurants in downtown Walla Walla.  Some of our favorites are Whitehouse Crawford and Saffron.

Whitehouse Crawford is an old planning mill and furniture store from 1880 to 1988 when it was to be torn down for a parking lot.  Many protested it and it was purchased and restored as a restaurant.  The beautiful wide plank red fir floors and much of the original pulleys/leather belts still remain.

10.  Saffron

Another quaint restaurant is Saffron just off of Adler Street.  It has a Mediterranean flair with seasonal, organic and local produce in a cozy atmosphere.

By Julie Biniasz

 

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