Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Springtime in Washington's Wine Country

Spring officially arrived sometime around 4 a.m. PDT on Wednesday in the Pacific Northwest. It blew in on a cold, windy day, prompting us to take an armchair spring trip to Washington’s Wine Country:

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In fairness, the 'wine road' leads many directions throughout our Evergreen State with 'wine country' stretching from our southern neighbor Oregon  north to Canada. We headed to Chelan, Washington; a  town that wraps itself around the base of the 55-mile long glacier-fed Lake Chelan (that's just a small section in the photo above). Those snow-covered peaks in the background are the North Cascades Mountain Range.

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For decades Chelan’s hillsides were carpeted with orchards. Today the orchard is giving way to the vineyard.

In addition to being a popular part of wine country and a favorite destination for water- and outdoor-enthusiasts, this north central Washington town is also The Scout’s hometown.

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Designated as an official American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2009, this Lake Chelan area is home to more than 20 wineries.

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A number of the wineries have views of the lake, but one of our favorites is the 28-acre Benson Estate Vineyards and Winery where the photos above were taken last April.

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Spring -- before the summer's warm temperatures draw hordes of tourists to the hotels, condos, and timeshares that dot the shoreline, –  is our favorite time to visit this small town of 3,945 residents.

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Although wine grape growing is the hot new agricultural pursuit here, there are still plenty of orchards intermixed with the vineyards – producing  apples, pears, and cherries.  Their blooms announce spring's arrival.

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We are ending our armchair outing with a photo taken in the summer to show you how the vineyards will look only a few months from now. 

This photo was taken at Chelan’s Nefarious Winery. Its vineyard behind me replaced a long-time orchard; one that belonged to The Scout’s family.  For year's as we'd arrive in town, he'd point to it, noting, “I helped plant that orchard.”

We visit the 'old orchard' when we get back to Chelan, and as we've sipped wine on this patio, we've toasted The Scout's past. But, if we were there today, we'd offer a toast to spring and the promise it holds: “To Spring! May yours be filled with travel adventures!”

It is Travel Photo Thursday, so be sure to stop by Nancie’s  Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travel via photos.

If You Go:
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Chelan is about three and a half hours drive from Seattle. The nearest airport is in Wenatchee, about 45 minutes away.
For information on wineries, accommodations and events: www.lakechelan.com

27 comments:

  1. How different the vineyards will look in a few months. Amazing nature. Gosh that picture of the cherry blossom is gorgeous. What a beautiful colour.

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    1. It is amazing what sun and warmth can do to a vineyard.

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  2. I love the cherry blossom photo :)

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  3. This is a very pretty spot. The vineyards are still beautiful with out their leaves. I love the cherry blossom photo...they really do signal the start of Spring

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    1. It is beautiful when the sun shines highlighting those stark vines alright. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. The Pacific Northwest has some great wine regions, doesn't it? I agree that they are so much fun to visit.

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    1. Margaret - Thanks for stopping by today. I visited your blog - it is great. Hope you'll visit TravelnWrite regularly.

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  5. Great photos - this seems like such a beautiful area of the U.S. I love the cherry blossom photo - a sure sign of spring! Although it's officially spring, we're still waiting on its arrival here - will be awhile before I see any blossoms, I'm afraid.

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    1. Thanks Lisa. It has been nasty weather in Kirkland since spring arrived! Worse than our 'winter' was. . .here's to cherry blossoms - soon I hope!

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  6. Hi Jackie,
    Thanks for introducing Chelan to me. Have heard about other wine towns in WA but not Chelan. It looks very scenic. The combination of the lake and vineyards makes it an inviting destination. Your photos are stunning, particularly the last one.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Marisol! Chelan is definitely worth a visit if you get to Washington State.

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  7. Your photos look so beautiful and inviting. I love the clear sky over the lake with the mountain view in that first picture. Very cool that Scout is able to see the work of his spoils years later.

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    1. Back when the Scout worked in the orchard they used that powerful DDT concoction to kill insects. He loves to tease the winery owner that he still can detect flavors of DDT in the wines. . .just a joke, by the way. We LOVE Nefarious wines.

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  8. What a difference a few months makes! I love that picture of you and the gorgeous view of the orchard and the lake. I've always wanted to visit this part of WA. Orchards and vineyards are just too hard to pass up and not often seen here in CA. Beautiful springtime cherry blossoms!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Mary. The last couple of days have been so nasty weather-wise that I am clinging to the hope the spring is really just around the corner.

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  9. There's money on the vines. Seems that vineyards are filling in the landscape (and replacing orchards, etc) everywhere. I'm not complaining. :) Good idea to head off to wine country to celebrate the beginning of spring,and it definitely looks like you should go back in the summer, too.

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    1. You are right about the spread of the vino vines - at least around Washington State, Cathy. You'll have to come visit someday and we'll give you a tour of Chelan!

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  10. Do I ever like the view from the terrace! I haven't visited that part of Washington either but I can see it happening one day soon. I'm still planning ice-walks and xcountry ski trips so although spring feels close in Calgary it feels a long ways off in the mountains.

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    1. We'll offer to be tour guides if you get over this way, Leigh. And we had our first snow 'of the season' - that would be spring by the way - yesterday!

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  11. I've visited Oregon's vineyards, but in mid-summer. It seems so bare in the spring!

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    1. I am with you Evan - summer is a gorgeous time to visit vineyard country, no matter where it is. Thanks for stopping by and commenting today!

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  12. Lovely landscapes - and beautiful fruit flowers. Spring hasn't arrived up here yet; apple blossoms tend to bloom in May, so looking forward to that.

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    1. Thanks for the visit Sophie! Yes, we had snow on Friday - first of any season, winter or spring. Go figure!

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  13. Does The Scout mind that vineyards are replacing the orchards? I'd love to pick apples from a tree sometime.Does Chelan offer that? Of course, I can't complain about sipping wine either.

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  14. He only 'minds' because we talked about buying the land when the then-current-owner put it up for sale a few years ago and turning it into a vineyard. Our friends pooh-poohed us and said you couldn't grow wine grapes in Chelan. Famous last words. As for picking apples, there is a great farm just down the road -- Tiny's in Wenatchee that encourages you to go out into the fields and orchards and pick. I did a 'press trip' there last summer and picked cherries to eat while they told us about the orchard that is open to the public.

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  15. I really hope to travel up to WA this summer with the kids - I love the summer months in WA :)

    Thanks for always linking up to our Friday Daydreamin' - I appreciate it!

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