Have you ever been startled to find an obvious, but overlooked, travel treasure right in your own back yard?
I was. Just this week.
And it took a visit from two friends (yes, that’s us on the right) from Yakima, the heart of Central Washington wine country, to lead me to this wine field discovery:
Woodinville Wine Country.
Woodinville borders Kirkland, where Joel and I hang our hats when not traveling. Both cities are east of Lake Washington, part of the greater Seattle Metropolitan area. SeaTac Airport is about 22 miles to our south.
Considering the proximity, I am still asking myself why I waited so long to explore this oenophile oasis that boasts nearly 100 wineries, tasting rooms and wine bars in an area only eight miles (a 15 minute drive) away?
Exploring Wine Country – Our route
You can’t tour and taste in wine country on an empty stomach. . .a perfect reason to first lunch at the bistro-style award-winning Barking Frog restaurant.
The restaurant’s name comes from the Native American storytellers use of the Frog as a symbol of wealth or abundance. When the frogs are barking, it is a sign of peace and harmony in nature.
(The rain threat kept us from using their patio; we’ll try it next time. And kudos to our waitress who knew her wines, made great recommendations and then encouraged our long, leisurely lunch.)
A Monday afternoon may not have been the best time to tour as a number of wineries and tasting rooms were closed. Those we did visit included the sleek modern Novelty Hill/Januik, the French Chateau-style Chateau St. Michelle, and a cluster of wineries housed in and on the perimeter of the old Hollywood School.
We traveled by auto, but there are 20 wineries/tasting rooms that we could have walked to from the Barking Frog and Willows Lodge with which the restaurant is affiliated. Those folks have prepared a free walking map available for the asking.
And speaking of maps, for a great overview of the area, there’s nothing better than the map from the Woodinville Wine Country web site which I’ve included below (go to their site and print it off in PDF format before you go):
If you go:
Willow Lodge, next to the Barking Frog is a luxurious spa resort, 14580 NE 145th St., www.willowslodge.com (Weekends are busy in the summer but mid-week, there's a chance of getting a room – at maybe a better price.)
The Barking Frog, 14580 NE 145th St. Woodinville, is part of Willows Lodge. Bistro style breakfast, lunch and dinners.
The Herb Farm restaurant, on the same property, is legendary for its months-long wait lists. It’s nine-course meals, paired with six wines, continues to make it among ‘the’ places to eat in the Northwest. Prices are astronomical but then so is the experience (we are told).
Get maps, winery and tasting room hours and driving directions from Woodinville Wine Country, (425) 205-4394, www.woodinvillewinecountry.com Another good site: www.gotastewine.com/woodinville-wine.php
WA Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of TravelnWrite. If this is your first visit to our blog, we hope to see you again tomorrow on Travel Photo Thursday.