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wine and dine tour around Wash. state

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I am thinking of going to Washington State for a wine and dine 5 day trip. What are the 3 star restaurants (or cool more modest places) in the countryside, in or near vineyards ?

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  1. McLo, I strongly suggest you acquire a copy of Paul Gregutt's book "Washington Wine & Wineries" (University of California Press). Unlike California, very few Washington State wineries grow their own grapes. Many of the very best wineries are in humble Quansit huts or cinder block buildings near the Walla Walla airport. It is not uncommon for the premier wineries to have their next year's inventory pre-sold to current customers. (Often their wines never make it to retail stores.) Methow Valley wineries are incredibly spread out. I suggest you use Paul's book as a guide, contact wineries prior to your trip to get a better feel for how to plan your visit.

    1. If you are going to eastern wa for your winery tour many of the wineries are in the middle or nowhere with no real cities near by. For eatern wa wineries the largest city close by will be Yakima or Spokane. If you are touring wineries in Woodinville (close to Seattle)- you will find a few in the Woodenville area and others in nearby Bellevue. Something else to note is that - most cuisine in Seattle ( or Wa) is never talked about in regards to stars, but more in terms of awards or press recieved.

      What area of WA are you coming to? What wineries? Will you have any meals in Seattle (when arriving or leaving maybe)?

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      1. re: natalie.warner

        I think the only formal winery tour in Woodinville is at Chateau Ste Michelle, though at the smaller wineries you have a chance to chat with and learn from many of the actual wine makers. Of course the vineyards are not in Woodinville - you have to go to Eastern Washington for those.

      2. Lake Chelan has 20 wineries around the lake. There is a great Asain restaurant in the town of Lake Chelan. Spokane has as many, plus some very good restaurants. Most of Spokane's can be tasted on a walking tour downtown. Walla Walla has a great reputation for good wines and hospitality. Woodinville is not Eastern WA, and the last time I was there not as many as the 3 I mentioned. Today's Wall Street Journal lists 3 of 9 best wines coming from Columbia Valley in Eastern WA. Restaurants are harder to judge, not knowing your tastes. But generally, if you find good wines, restaurants can't be far away, and the vintners will know them.

        1. The South part of the state you can start in Yakima, move through the tri cities area and end up in Walla Walla... wonderful tour and easy to drive.

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          1. re: magtree

            For the best, most reasonably priced wines and wineries, IMO the Prosser-Benton City-Tri Cities grouping can't be beat. The only problem is the lack of "3 star" restaurants, but it's getting better. At the very least, if you're going to drive from Seattle to Walla Walla take a look at what you can experience on the way.

          2. In my opinion, the best wine region for Washington wine tourism is Walla Walla, which is a 5-6 hour drive from Seattle and a slightly shorter drive from Portland. The Walla Walla area produces fantastic wines and has dozens of friendly wineries. Some have elaborate tasting facilities, but many great ones are in simple, little warehouses out in the airport area. Additionally, Walla Walla itself is a charming college town. The quality of dining in Walla Walla is superior to that in most similarly sized towns. I have eaten and enjoyed meals at the Creektown Cafe (upscale casual Pacific NW food) and Sweet Basil Pizzeria (really great NY-style pizza in an unexpected place--the far east side of Washington State). I have hear great things about T. Maccarone's and Whitehouse-Crawford. While Yelp can sometimes steer one in the wrong direction, it would be worth checking out Yelp's Walla Walla listings to get an idea about the area. I would highly recommend Walla Walla for a 2-3 day wine-based visit.

            If Walla Walla is too remote, and you want to stay closer to Seattle, Woodinville is the only wine center in the Puget Sound region. It's about 20 minutes from Seattle and has a variety of wineries--some very large and some with very small production. There are some well-regarded restaurants in and near Woodinville, such as the Herbfarm in Woodinville and Cafe Juanita in Kirkland. You won't have 5 days worth of wine tasting in Woodinville, however, and the setting is pretty suburban.

            Avoid the Lake Chelan wine region at all costs. There aren't enough wineries to warrant a visit and the wines are slightly above mediocre at best. Some (such as Hard Row to Hoe) are just plain awful. There is no food scene in the town of Chelan, either. The best place to eat in town is the taco truck next door to the laundromat; no kidding.

            1. Im going to have to agree with luckywonton; Walla Walla area is probobly best for a cohesive tour of wines. That being said, it is also a good starting point for day-trips to the Tri-Cities/Benton Co. area. Some of the Wineries in WW source their grapes from there and most (if not all) are willing to give you vinyard tours if you want to make the drive. There are also wineries in the Tri-Cities and Prosser area that are pretty solid and less Walla Walla-y. Winter is also the slow season around here, and starting in May, things get crazy, so if you want to avoid the crowds, plan accordingly and call ahead to the more private wineries.

              If you want the full winery experience, check out staying at Abeja Inn. Afterall, Abeja IS a winery with a vineyard onsite and offer tours and such.

              Restaurants to note in the Eastern WA region: Creektown (shamelessly promoting), Saffron (Beard NW Nom.), Whitehouse, T. Macc, Tagaris Winery/Restaurant in Tri Cities does a good job, Patit Creek in Dayton, Jimgerman bar in Waitsburg (but is closed for Jan.)