The Pacific Northwest is the latest wine region in the United States that has taken the world by storm—once known for cheap wines from scrappy winemakers, Washington has developed complex and subtle reds that rival the top wines from California. From Columbia Valley to Walla Walla, Washington features a unique and beautiful geography—stunning mountains, lush valleys, and breathtaking deserts. While there are established vintners that produce top-rated vintages, there are also hundreds of new winemakers that have founded over a thousand new wineries. Overflowing with fine wines, sustainable farming, great food, and live music, here are six wineries in Washington that deserve our attention.
Cave B Estate
This boutique winery located in the Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley outside Quincy, Washington, harvests multiple varietals from the microclimates that flourish along their cliff-side estate. Perched nine hundred feet above the Columbia River with majestic views of the enchanting valley below, Cave B isn’t just a winery but an artistic community. The acoustical magic of the Gorge Amphitheater, a natural bowl of stone circled by grassy terraces, attracts musicians from around the world to this isolated estate. Locals know nature’s stage as “The Gorge,” and you won’t regret spending a night at the Cave B Inn and joining the throngs of excited concertgoers for a glass of red and a lovely meal at the Tendrils Restaurant. A sumptuous cultural and gastronomic experience in a beautiful setting.
Charles Smith Wines
Charles Smith Wines represents the best elements of the West Coast—founded by a former rock band manager and veteran roadie Charles Smith, who discovered the possibilities of wine while on the road in Europe pairing fine wines with food from around the world. In 1991, he moved to the Walla Walla Valley in Washington and planted small lots of single-vineyard Syrahs and field blends of red grapes. Now hand-picked and basket-pressed, Charles Smith produces a handful of labels from limited editions to everyday drinking. There are three tasting rooms that include an industrial lounge converted from an old bottling plant in Seattle with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Boeing, a former automotive repair shop in Walla Walla, and a 19th-century farmstead on the estate vineyard dedicated to his most famous vintage, K Vintners. Named one of the best new wineries by Wine and Spirits in 2008, Charles Smith embodies the original spirit—scrappy, grungy, and down-to-earth—that still sets Washington apart.
Abeja is an idyllic winery and inn in the Walla Walla Valley that is perfect for a romantic getaway or rustic retreat. Known both for their lush and fruity cabernet sauvignon and for their accommodations, securing a tasting at Abeja is only available for guests and members. The secluded charms of their turn-of-the-century farmstead are worth a visit, however. The original outbuildings have been restored and transformed into spacious private rooms, including suites and private residences. You can even stay in a converted hayloft nestled under the eaves of the converted barn. Guests can explore the gardens, lawns, and vineyards, crisscrossed with small creeks. The tasting room and restaurant serve farm-fresh local food and, of course, the estate wines. The informal and private experience is an unmatched way to stay in Walla Walla Valley.