When I went to school in Walla Walla, only a few years ago, you could go to all the wineries in a weekend. Recently, my husband and I went back for a classmate’s wedding in June, and were astonished to learn that there were currently 97 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley! As ambitious as we are to try new wines, we decided to limit ourselves to three out of the five regions. We went to the Highway 12 West of town region, the in-town wine tasting rooms, and our favorite area, East of town near the Walla Walla airport. We tasted wines from over 20 wineries and our top favorites were Lowden Hills, Mannina Cellars, and Flying Trout.
The three things that we look forward to in wine tasting are the experience, the taste, and the value of the wine. Lowden Hills was phenomenal in each category. The winemaker, Jim, poured for us, while regaling us with stories of each vineyard, vintage, and how they decided on the labels. The most captivating story was about the 2005 “See You There Syrah”. The label features a picture of the winemaker’s mother-in-law in a tribute to her strong character. (The Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman has a wonderful blog about it!) It’s a beautifully bold, blueberry tasting syrah and my utmost favorite wine. It’s a must try! We also loved that several labels featured their pets, such as Casita Cuvee!
Mannina Cellars was also recommended to us, by our good friend from Boise, and it really knocked our socks off. It is a friendly, family-style tasting room, in one of the many charming renovated airplane hangers near the airport. Like Lowden Hills, we enjoyed everything we tasted, so we joined their wine club!
We stumbled upon the Flying Trout tasting room as we were wandering around downtown Walla Walla. We were pleasantly surprised to find out it was owned by a Whitman Alumni! The tasting room was rustic yet practical with sweet smelling barrels of freshly crushed wine. It was filled with lovely pottery and a chill dog. I highly recommend visiting and tasting at this winery!
The Olympic Peninsula is not well-known for its wines, yet. We have discovered two wineries in our trips to Forks and Marrowstone Island that positively delightful. Harbinger Winery, West of Port Angeles and Camaraderie Cellars are well worth the drive to their tasting rooms. The Raspberry Bliss at Harbinger is divine and tastes even better than fresh raspberries. In the tasting room we had it with a piece of Theo’s dark chocolate which was was simply ecstasy! Not far down the highway, Camaraderie Cellars is in an inviting garden surrounded by singing birds and lazy bumblebees. We loved the atmosphere and all their Cabs! I’m excited to find out that they are featured at The Tasting Room in Seattle.