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.