Check out Between Two Vines: A Weekend Wine Tasting and Pokémon Hunting in Walla Walla for more information on the wineries listed here, places to stay and visit!
Last time I was in W2 you could still feel the ripple effects of the economic downturn. Lots of buildings were empty with For Lease or For Sale signs, desperately waiting for tenants who would bring the next wave of tourists or innovators to the region. These days the town is booming with tourists, breakfast spots, and lots of Sold or Leased announcements. The wine revolution is in full swing bringing into the region a vast selection of vitners and wine labels that continue to grow the region’s expertise and standing in the world. Large groups of friends and family now gather here for weddings, bachelorettes, and milestone celebrations. There were wine tours everywhere!
The modernization of agricultural regions is a phenomenon that is very visible in this AVA. You can see farmlands as far as the eye can see without losing a bar of cellphone and 4G service. Contemporary structures litter the countryside, and Teslas chauffeur guests from tasting room to tasting room. The only thing that is rustic is the decor, which can vary from Tuscan style to American farmhouse. The wine making processes are cutting edge. Stainless steel drums, automated valve systems and bottling lines hum and buzz, busy with the fruit of the picking labor of the immigrant and local farm hands. The land is producing the best grapes thanks to sophisticated irrigation systems. Technology and nature conspire together to bring us the most delectable and fresh produce possible.
With a group of 10 people, we decided to charter a shuttle service to imbibe without repercussions bigger than a hangover. Not having to worry about transportation gave us more leeway and choices. Skipping the hassle of driving and parking allowed us to insert one or two additional stops to the route than the last time we visited. This is extremely valuable in the Westside and Southside winery region. With an 11am to 5pm tasting room operating hours window, +/- 1 hr, every second counts. Make sure you make reservations for groups larger than 8 at the smaller labels, especially during weekdays. Also, bring snacks, picnics and food because the wine tasting countryside region doesn’t have restaurants and food establishments, and food trucks are hard to come by. (Northstar may have one during the weekends but there is no mention of it online.)
The Pokémon craze has died down but I took a moment to catch a few, as well as some 80+ degree weather sunshine, while we tasted wines at these fine establishments:
- Three Rivers
- L’Ecole No 41
- Flying Trout
- Va Piano
- Pepper Bridge
- Sleight of Hand
- Dusted Valley
- Goose Ridge Vineyard
- Sinclair Estate Vineyards
- Mark Ryan
- Severino Cellars
Many of the establishments in Walla Walla are not truly within walking distance from each other, and the few that are still require transportation to reach the area. In the case of Zillah, we stopped there during the roadtrip back to Seattle. For the sake of brevity, I have limited the reviews to the places we had not attended or written about in the link provided above since the establishments, their service, and offerings did not greatly vary from those offered two years ago. Tasting fees are still between $10 and $15 for flights, $20+ for reserve or specialty tastings. You get anywhere from 5 to 6 options to try out, and if you get the Wine Passport, you could score a few perks and waived fees for up to two people.
Sister winery to Pepper Bridge, this modern tasting room has an extraordinary view of the countryside and is within walking distance (up or down the hill depending on the direction) from Flying Trout/Waters/Temo. We had visited the location in downtown previously but jumped at the chance to visit both places this time around. They had a good catalogue of wines from Stone Valley, Les Collines and Pepper Bridge, along other AVA favorites. Focusing on Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignon, they also have Sémillon, dessert wines and Cabernet Franc Rosé.
Open until 7 pm, Waterbrook was a welcomed addition to our tour. The grounds provide frisbee, horseshoe and Bocce ball play spaces, and ample space for children and pets to roam free. The landscaping is gorgeous for wedding pictures and receptions. Their catering and venue services are prepared to handle any type or event by partnering with transportation and party planning professionals. The wines include Rosé varieties and the classics, all exquisite. Their kitchen makes them a popular stop for the crowds winding down from their tasting sprees. Bring friends and/or your pets an enjoy the luscious grass and beautiful water features. If you are so inclined, check out the gift shop for bridal, pet and fun wine related gear.
A long driveway away from Northstar lies this quaint and profitable endeavor that provides grapes to its sister company Amavi. With grassy areas for the resident dog and its companions to play, you cannot go wrong bringing your pups around for a wine glass or two. Families and large groups gather in the deck space to enjoy cheeses, tastings and great company. The staff is delightful and the wines are excellent. Good joint for those who like whites and cabernets. Tastings, like at many places, are refundable with the purchase of a bottle.
Located in downtown Walla Walla, this tasting room quickly became one of our favorites. Open late on Saturdays, and by late we mean after 7 pm, their offerings include a flight of hard ciders! Since most of my party was wined out, a few of us enjoyed the welcomed respite. With cherry, berry, passion fruit and apple flavors, you are bound to find a favorite as well. From what I could tell the wines were excellent and the service was superb, making it a must for groups and those looking for a nice relaxing environment. Their gear is really cool too!
On our way back from W2, we stopped in Zillah to hide from the backed up traffic. The Wine Passport included a few complimentary tastings in the area and we settled on Severino. Not only was it in close proximity to the highway but the tasting room had marvelous reviews of their products which did not disappoint. Their souvenirs were super cool and well priced, just as tempting as their wines. We ended up taking a Rosé and half a case of their Red blend, both perfect for the BBQ season ahead. Brodie, the resident K-9, gave me a private tour of the patio before taking a nap on the sunny and warm concrete floor. 🐾💝
The next time you are planning an escape, seriously consider Walla Walla. Plane, charter bus or train, there is more than one way to make an entrance into this gorgeous piece of heaven. The service and quality rival any wine country destination in the world. You will not be disappointed! Check out Facebook, Instagram and social media outlets to connect directly with the businesses in the area and learn more about offerings and entertainment schedules.