May the new year bring you many good things, including the discovery of new and exciting experiences that the Pacific Northwest has to offer!
Somewhere across the winter world tonight
You will be hearing chimes that fill the air;
Christmas extends its all-enfolding light
Across the distance…something we can share.
You will be singing, just the same as I,
These familiar songs we know so well,
And you will see these same stars in your sky
And wish upon that brightest one that fell.
I shall remember you and trim my tree,
One shining star upon the topmost bough;
I will hang wreaths of faith that all may see –
Tonight I glimpse beyond the hear and now.
And all the time that we must be apart
I keep a candle in my heart.”
- Mary E. Linton, Candlelit Heart
grey clouds darken
- Michael P. Garofalo, Cuttings
It’s December and there is much to do. Do you send cards? Do you have many people to buy for? Have you decorated yet? We all have our own story and experience and what is tradition for one may not be so for another. Or maybe you’ll start your own tradition. There are options for fun this time of year whether you’re on a strict budget or you’re not. I have already done some of these on the list below. Others I won’t. Here is a list of possible holiday options this month:
Visit a local nursery – Swansons, Molbak’s, Wight’s, Squak Mt., and more – the gift shops and decorating possibilities abound
Put up your own decorations – a little outside light with the indoor poinsettia and/or tree
Seattle Center – a sample itinerary might be 1) Space Needle 2) Armory – grab a snack and check out the train 3) see a play at the Bagley Wright Theater (Seattle Repertory Theater). I can attest that The Hound of the Baskervilles is a great choice – open till Dec 15th 4 & 5) enjoy a dinner at Collections Café. Chihuly exhibition is extra special this time of year 6) walk the grounds to view the lights and take to ice skating to celebrate Winterfest
Woodland Park Zoo or Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium– lights! Note: Bellevue Botanical Garden is still under construction and they are having a smaller display this year. And don’t forget the Issaquah Reindeer Festival at the Cougar Mountain Zoo
Bake cookies, spiced nuts or other holiday treats
Get a jump-start on your healthy New Year’s resolution and hit the gym, go ice skating or head outside
Watch a holiday movie (or one that is popular this time of year) – Sound of Music, It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday, Christmas with the Kranks, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Andy Williams Christmas, or catch one on the Lifetime or Hallmark channel
Make a point of getting together with friends
Check out Snowflake Lane at the Bellevue Collection with its 7 pm nightly show
Take in the theater, ballet, symphony, orchestra. This is an especially good time of year to check out a local company
Shop Downtown Seattle – the lights, hustle and bustle are especially fun. Snowflakes at Pacific Place, the Holiday Carousel, Argosy Christmas Ship Festival, Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Hotel, take a Ride the Ducks tour or take a whirl on the Seattle Great Wheel, check out Pike Place Market, and there is a new attraction this year – SnowGlobe Live! Step inside the globe and get your picture taken – what a treat!
Posted in Active Lifestyle, Arts & Entertainment, Festivals & Events, Food & Drink, Puget Sound Area | Tagged Argosy Christmas Ship Festival, Bellevue Collection, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Gingerbread Village, Holiday Carousel, Issaquah Reindeer Festival, Pacific Place, Pike Place Market, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Ride the Ducks, Seattle Great Wheel, Snowflake Lane, Snowglobe Live, Winterfest, Woodland Park Zoo | Leave a Comment »
Traveling to Walla Walla for a long weekend is the perfect way to experience one of the many diverse and special locales of Washington State; plus as a bonus you can sample some of the best wine made in the USA. From the Seattle area, it is about a 4-1/2 hour drive, so I guess you could say that it is just beyond four hours reach.
A three-day weekend is suggested for your first time visit or for those of you that have been to Walla Walla before. This particular trip proved to be less time in town but still allowed for a good amount of tasting. See http://www.wallawalla.org/ for a well-rounded look at what there is to see and do in Walla Walla. The following itinerary isn’t a cheap one, but a recommended one.
Stay – 51 East Main. These vacation rentals are luxury apartments built with all the in-house amenities you desire (full length mirror, extra pillows, glass/dishware, coffee, DVD player) and some amenities that may surprise you as well, but are nice touches (like a calendar on the wall). Each of the 5 apartments has a particular theme to it. Visit http://www.51eastmain.com/ to view the options. We stayed in the Home Room and our friends took The Cellar. It is located right in the heart of downtown Walla Walla so it is close to restaurants, tasting rooms, shopping, and more. Questions about 51 East Main? Let me know. A stay at 51 East Main will definitely be had again.
Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen - http://saffronmediterraneankitchen.com/ A bottle of local wine was brought in – Abeja’s Cabernet Sauvignon (corkage allowed if not on their wine list) and one was purchased as well – Saggi. The Orecchiette was enjoyed – roasted heirloom tomato, speck, corn, chives-ricotta & Pecorino Toscano and the four of us enjoyed the mezze (flatbread with a variety of dips/spreads). The menu is seasonal with mostly locally sourced items.
Whitehouse-Crawford http://www.whitehousecrawford.com/home.php Champagne to start, a bottle of Five Star Cellars Stellar. Enjoyed the Al ceppo pasta with sweet and sour eggplant, sweet corn, roasted duck, and Pecorino Romano as well as the Rustic tomato soup with Dungeness crab and croutons.
Vintage Cellars Wine Bar http://vintagewinebar.org/ Check out the live music, visit with friends on the outdoor patio, and try a glass or bottle of their wide selection of area wines (or maybe now is the time for a beer). See their Facebook page for up-to-date events.
The Marc’s Vineyard Lounge located at the Marcus Whitman Hotel http://marcuswhitmanhotel.com/the-vineyard-lounge for a cocktail and appetizer. The Tempura Local Vegetables and the Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip hit the spot.
Olive – http://olivemarketplaceandcafe.com/ - If we didn’t stop at the Red Monkey http://redmonkeylounge.com/ for a bite and to watch the Seattle Seahawks game, then the fig and brie flatbread would have been had here. Instead, we took a break and shared one glass of wine while hangin’ out on the comfy leather furniture there.
Bacon and Eggs – http://www.baconandeggswallawalla.com/ This is a new to us and now a favorite! Be prepared to wait for a table on the weekend as it is also a local favorite. Farm-to-Table food that satisfies and starts the day out right. I had the -Bacon & Eggs- Try the mimosa and a side of cornbread and freshly made guacamole.
Wine Tasting -
On this particular wine tasting adventure, we had friends with us that had not been to Walla Walla before so the goal was to visit high quality big red wines and to experience a variety of locations/types of the wineries/tasting rooms (a farm, modern building with views, traditional vineyard, airport). They may be part of a large conglomerate or a small winery making just a few hundred cases. Most of these wineries had a white wine to taste as well. A few had Rose. Others might make these but are already sold out because of the small amount of cases made, or they are only available to wine club members. Once you have found a favorite, joining a wine club just might be the ticket, especially if they are small production and have a wine or two that are only available to the wine club members. Some wine clubs send wine 2-3 times a year and others more so. Some allow for choosing the wine you receive (like Five Star Cellars) and the others will send you what they want. The wineries in Walla Walla are divided into four main areas, West Walla Walla/Lowden, Downtown tasting rooms, The Airport/East Walla Walla and South along the State line. There are also wineries just across the border in Oregon (like Tero Estates) and those near Waitsburg.
Below are the wineries that we visited on this trip.
West – Bunchgrass
South – Amavi, Va Piano (the Cabernet Sauvignon and their special Las Collines Syrah (single vineyard) were especially good)), Northstar (Cabernet Franc)
Airport – Five Star Cellars (the whole line up! I left with the Supernova but will circle back for the others in due time), Kontos Cellars
Downtown – Trust Cellars (2010 Syrah – Walla Walla Valley), Otis Kenyon, Sinclair Estate Vineyards (Syrah, Roussanne Marsanne).
Based on my purchases you might think I like Syrah, eh? I will say that Walla Walla Syrahs are especially fruitful and Walla Walla produces some of the finest Syrahs in the world. I have found that these wineries produce a great deal of different quality varietals as well.
Other – See previous Walla Walla postings for shopping, more wineries, and things to do (Oct 2010, Sept/Feb 2011). The Farmers Market looked to be slim pickins’ this weekend/year so a drive by was all that was needed. You can fly and rent a car or make the drive and explore. Do remember to make sure that your car is good working order and is ready to cross the Pass. Based on your timing, you may want to stop at Red Mountain (Richland area) or Prosser. The area around Richland is a good separate trip in itself, as is Yakima/Zillah.
So, come to Walla Walla to taste and to play. Good people, good product, good visit.
Posted in Food & Drink, Road Trip Worthy | Tagged 51 East Main, Amavi, Bacon and Eggs, Bunchgrass, Five Star Cellars, Kontos Cellars, Northstar, Olive Marketplace and Cafe, Otis Kenyon, Red Monkey, Sinclair Estate Vineyard, The Marc vineyard lounge, Trust Cellars, Va Piano, Vintage Cellars Wine Bar, Whitehouse-Crawford | Leave a Comment »
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
~ George Eliot
Welcome Autumn. Happy 1st day of Fall!
No Spring nor Summer beauty hath such grace., as I have seen in one Autumnal face. ~ John Donne
Lake Chelan Wine Valley is perfect spot for a getaway especially during our wonderful Washington summers. Check out the Come Visit Us section of http://www.lakechelanwinevalley.com/ for some good tips! Lake Chelan Wine Valley has a climate that is well-suited for growing grapes and boasts some very good up and coming wineries.
Nefarious Cellars – my hands down favorite. Great wine. Great location. Great view of the lake. Perfect for sitting on the patio with a glass of wine. The winery tastes and sells not only what you might find in a store, but also some winery only and limited production wines. My favorite of the hard to find is the Rocky Mother. Oh my.
Tsillan Cellars: A beautiful Tuscan Villa motif with a wonderful restaurant attached to the facilities – The Sorrento, is a great gathering place for you and your friends. The tasting room is very big and can accommodate larger groups at the same time.
Tildio Winery, Manson: Nice wines, the winemaker Katy has been there since almost the beginning of wine production in the Lake Chelan AVA, a must if tasting on both sides of the lake.
Cairdeas Winery, Manson – now this was a pleasant surprise. The entire line up was enjoyed and we walked away with a number of bottles. Small family winery with a nice atmosphere. Get there now before they start selling out as production is small.
Karma Vineyards – Karma is a very nice place for lunch and a tasting. The tasting occurs at the table, with flights that are brought to the table. We splurged and tasted a couple flights each . For lunch, the summer salad and clams were enjoyed. The atmosphere is refreshing and takes you to a relaxing zen type vibe. The vineyards are located right there. Karma is often closed for wedding events, so check ahead of time if opened to public on day you’re there.
Other wineries visited were Tunnel Hill Winery, Hard to Hoe Vineyards in Manson, and almost made it to Mellisoni Vineyards, but timing was such that it didn’t work as they are by appointment only. There are other wineries that were not visited, like the well-known Vin du lac which has a nice Bistro for lunch and overlooks the lake as well.
Things to do on a hot summer day – Take a dip in the lake, rent a jet-ski, take a boat ride, walk around town, get a golf game in, try the water park, and more.
I like Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s slogan…. “Naturally Intoxicating”.