Washington State has officially developed a place among the top states to visit for wine lovers. With a variety of microclimates, the Evergreen State offers wines made from grapes that withstand the Pacific Northwest climate and yield stunningly good wines.
Check out the following list of four of the best wineries in Washington State.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Located in Woodinville, the heart of Washington’s wine country, Chateau Ste. Michelle stands out as the state’s oldest winery and one of its largest producers. Dating back to 1912, the winery was created by winemakers who sought to prove that California and Italy weren’t the only places where great wines could be produced.
The winery features a chateau built on 1976 located on 105 acres of wooded land that was the former estate of Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson. Today, Chateau Ste. Michelle stands out as one of few wineries with separate, high-tech facilities for red wines and white wines, the latter of which are made at Canoe Ridge Estate in Eastern Washington.
Chateau Ste. Michelle offers a number of highly-rated wines, including the 2014 Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which features ripe blueberry flavors and silky tannins. The wine earned 92 points from the Wine Advocate in 2017.
Another highly-rated wine is the 2015 Ethos Late Harvest Riesling, which won Wine Enthusiast’s Best of the Year award in 2017. This Riesling features a unique mix of aromas, including dried apricots, orange marmalade, and honey.
In addition to providing traditional tastings and tours, Chateau Ste. Michelle offers a truly unique Winemaker for a Day experience. Those who sign up for this hands-on experience get the opportunity to use the winery’s supplies to create their own wine blend under the guidance of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s wine experts.
Located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, Maryhill Winery offers gorgeous views of Mt. Hood. The winery stands out as one of the most popular in the state, attracting over 75,000 visitors per year.
Maryhill Winery sources its grapes from 13 vineyards throughout eight of Washington’s American Viticultural Areas and produces 80,000 cases of wine per year. The winery makes a menu of classic reds and whites.
It also offers a selection of Proprietor’s Reserve wines, which are made with grapes from the best blocks of the vineyards. These wines include the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, which earned the Double Gold Medal at the Seattle Wine Awards, and the 2013 Syrah, winner of the Chairman’s Award at Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition.
In addition to offering tastings and tours, Maryhill features a 4,000-seat amphitheater that hosts concerts. Visitors can sample the winery’s outstanding wines while taking in the music of some of their favorite artists, all in a beautiful setting overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
Located in Spokane, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is located on the famous Cliff House Estate. A Florentine-style mansion that sits 450 feet above the Spokane River Valley, the house was developed by inventor Royal Newton Riblet. He created a number of unique features on the estate, including a human-sized checkerboard and the “Eagle’s Nest,” a stone gazebo that offers beautiful views of the valley.
Arbor Crest’s selection of red wines includes its Cabernet Franc, which is made from grapes grown at the Conner Lee Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. The wine undergoes aging in French oak barrels for 20 months. It features a spicy herbal character and red currant and black raspberry flavors.
Arbor Crest’s white wines include both oaked and unoaked Chardonnays as well as a Riesling made exclusively from White Riesling grapes grown at the Dionysus Vineyard. Arbor Crest also makes a unique semi-sweet pink wine called the Cliff House Blush, which is made from both Riesling and Sangiovese grapes.
L’Ecole No 41
Located in Frenchtown outside of Walla Walla, L’Ecole No 41 stands out as possibly the only winery in the world to be located in an old school (l’ecole in French) built in 1915. The town was named after the French Canadians who came to the area in the 1800s, where they grew grapes and made wine. By the 1860s, wine had grown to become a vital part of the Walla Walla Valley’s economy.
Today, L’Ecole No 41 features a tasting room that was once a set of classrooms for fourth through sixth graders. With a classroom motif, the tasting room features a chalkboard with available wines. Guests “get schooled” at the slate-covered bar as they learn about L’Ecole No 41’s outstanding wines.
The winery has garnered a number of accolades, including a Gold Medal for its 2014 Estate Perigee at the World Wine Awards. At the same competition, L’Ecole No 41 also took home three Silver Medals for its 2014 Apogee, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, and its 2014 Estate Ferguson.
The above four wineries represent just a fraction of all that Washington has to offer wine lovers. When visiting these wineries, take some time to explore other wineries on the backroads of this beautiful state. You may find some of your favorite new wineries tucked away among the beautiful green hills of the Evergreen State.