Orcas Island

A new gourmet restaurants helmed by famous foodies
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WHY: To dine at two new gourmet restaurants helmed by famous foodies. Lisa Nakamura, former chef at The Herbfarm, is taking a seasonal approach at Allium (shown above, 310 Main St.; 360.376.4904; alliumonorcas.com) in the Eastsound space formerly known as Christina’s (the magnificent waterfront view remains). Chef Madden Surbaugh, late of the acclaimed Steps Wine Bar in Friday Harbor, is heading up The Quilted Pig (1400 Rosario Road; 360.376.2152; quiltedpigrestaurant.com), the new restaurant at Rosario Resort, featuring local and organic seafood and meat dishes.

Side Trip: Don’t miss the Orcas Island Farmers’ Market in Eastsound, open every Saturday through the end of September, for local produce and products to ferry back home (10 a.m.–3 p.m. Eastsound Village Green; orcasislandfarmersmarket.org). Extra Credit: Wannabe writers should time their trip to coincide with the third annual Orcas Island Writing Festival (September 17–19. Workshop prices vary. 360.317.4383; orcasislandwritersfestival.com).

Getting There: The ferry ride from Anacortes is half the fun. Visit wsdot.wa.gov/ferries for times and schedules.

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

An intimate affair for wine lovers who get their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude
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A flight of wine awaiting tasting at one of the educational panels

If you love good wine—really good wine—you’ll want to put Northwest Wine Encounter on your radar.

Haven’t heard of it before? That’s not surprising. The inaugural event, which I attended last spring, was an intimate affair with space for just a few dozen wine lovers who got their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude on winemaking, learning about these during educational panels led by some of the region’s finest winemakers. And, of course, it helped to taste through flights of really fine wine as the winemakers offered insights and perspective.

The return engagement, on the weekend of April 28-30 (from $485/person including lodging, events and gala dinner), will follow a similar format and will once again be held at Semiahmoo Resort, a lovely spot overlooking Semiahmoo Bay, with the U.S./Canadian border and Peace Arch in view across the water. This year, there will be room for around 100 wine lovers (sign up for Northwest Wine Encounter here).


Winemakers and guests enjoying Friday night’s bonfire at Semiahmoo 

This quintessential Northwest location was chosen to complement the local wines that are the focus of the weekend. At Semiahmoo, Mount Baker frames the view in one direction, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound in another. At one time in its history, Semiahmoo was also the site of a salmon cannery. Hard to get more Northwest than that.

The 2017 winemaker lineup includes a few superstars from Oregon and Washington: Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Walla Walla’s oldest winery; David Merfeld of Northstar Winery, Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars; Tony Rynders of Panther Creek and wine grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyards. New this year is the addition of a British Columbia winemaker, Walter Gehriner of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery.

 

At last year’s events, the panel discussions were interesting, but the Friday night kick-off event was almost worth the price of admission alone. It had the air of an informal party where everyone was enjoying each other’s company. All the winemakers were in attendance, pouring and chatting about what they love most: making wine. The party eventually spilled out onto the beach where a bonfire warmed the crowd. Marshmallows optional, wine required.