A Quick Day Trip Takes Wine Lovers to the Tasting Rooms of Woodinville
The state’s most convenient wine-tasting region has long attracted day-trippers, who can sip samples from 115 producers. But the upscale accommodations in the heart of this nearby destination make it a coveted, and quick, weekend getaway
By Jess Thomson May 10, 2019
Back in 2000, when Willows Lodge opened, there were a whopping eight wineries in Woodinville. Today, with more than 100 tasting rooms—spread over four distinct winery districts (the Warehouse, Downtown, Hollywood and West Valley), there’s more reason than ever to book a room here and stay awhile—namely, the time to enjoy all that the tasting rooms have to offer without the worry of driving home.
The lodge’s well-appointed rooms, decorated in rich wood tones and crisp whites, are the perfect place to cocoon yourself in a soft waffle-knit robe with a book and a bottle of Woodinville wine at hand. To be fair, there’s the inevitable stress involved in picking a spa treatment, and the room’s Alexa-style voice command service, called Roxy, will offer you far too many pillow choices.
But once you’ve calmed down—the bottle of wine handed to you at check-in will surely help—you can get down to business, planning, say, an afternoon of wine tasting and bocce, a bike trip down the nearby Sammamish River Trail or a full tour of Woodinville’s wine country (dubbed a “wineventure”) in one of the lodge’s Mercedes-Benz Sprinters (offered on Saturdays only). Hope you booked two nights—choosing from a bath amenities menu is so much more fun than driving back to Seattle.
Willows Lodge, Woodinville, 14580 NE 145th St.; 425.424.3900; from around $250.
Rooming at The Herbfarm
The Orchard House suite is one of two accommodations offered by The Herbfarm restaurant. Courtesy of The Herbfarm
If you’ve ever eaten at The Herbfarm, you’ve undoubtedly noticed what’s across the street: a lovely plot of land dedicated to herbs and plants of all sorts, and surveyed by two aging pot-bellied pigs, Basil and Borage. But hiding in plain sight are The Herbfarm Suites, two separate, large and regal hotel rooms serving anyone who cares to rent them from the restaurant (mostly Herbfarm diners looking for a short walk home after a four-hour dinner). Decorated with live plants, copious drapery and antique European furniture, the suites are indulgent and comfortable (even more so since being remodeled in 2016). Every walk across the room reveals a new detail: the Italian marble bathroom in one suite, the herb-accented tiles in another.
If you happen to have a view of the garden, peek outside before you head to dinner. You might spot a cook plucking novel flavors, such as anise hyssop and lovage, just before they arrive on your plate. Then look away, please. You wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.
The Herbfarm, Woodinville, 14590 NE 145th St.; 425.485.5300; from $325
Where to Refuel
The Heritage Burger from Heritage Restaurant and Bar. Photo by Richard Duval
In a place with great wine, it’s good to know that Woodinville has an increasingly diverse selection of good food to match. You can go all in and choose to commit to four or five hours of gustatory bliss at The Herbfarm—with its renowned seasonally focused, nine-course prix fixe dinners. For a casual lunch, dig into a burger with friends at Heritage Restaurant and Bar, one of Woodinville’s newer dining options, or head to the Hollywood Tavern for a shaved rib-eye sandwich or Beecher’s mac and cheese. If you’ve spent the night at the Willows Lodge, don’t miss brunch at the adjoining Barking Frog restaurant, where a plate of huckleberry pancakes is a sweet way to end your getaway.
Barking Frog, Woodinville, 14580 NE 145th St.; 425.424.2999
The Herbfarm, Woodinville, 14590 NE 145th St.; 425.485.5300
Heritage Restaurant and Bar, Woodinville, 14450 Redmond-Woodinville Road NE, No. 101B; 425.419.4760
Hollywood Tavern, Woodinville, 14501 Redmond-Woodinville Road NE; 425.481.7703
A PLACE TO TASTE: The new visitor center at Chateau Ste. Michelle is the granddaddy of Woodinville’s tasting rooms. Photo by Aaron Locke
With more than 100 wineries to choose from, planning a Woodinville wine tasting adventure is more complex than ever. Here are some of our favorites.
Chateau Ste. Michelle: With 300,000 visitors annually, our region’s oldest and most famous winery can feel like the national park of tasting rooms. But since its spacious new visitors center opened in 2017, the crowds feel more dispersed, and experiences like “winemaker for a day” ($125) and private tasting salons for limited releases expand guests’ unique tasting opportunities. Woodinville, Hollywood District, 14111 NE 145th St.; 425.488.1133
DeLille Cellars: Since 1992, DeLille Cellars has set the gold standard for wine from Woodinville, and in 2018, it made Wine & Spirits magazine’s coveted Top 100 list. Later this year, DeLille’s new digs in the former Redhook Brewery space are set to open: a three-story tasting room with seated “barrel-side service,” which means no queuing at a bar for the next pour. Woodinville, Hollywood District, 14421 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE; 425.877.9472
Mark Ryan Winery: Skull-themed art, dartboards and rock band posters vie for attention with the label’s classic calligraphy at this tasting room, where the wines themselves often have the same luxurious, masculine, slightly offbeat flavor. Don’t forget to taste the offerings of its new sister winery, Board Track Racer. Woodinville, Hollywood District, 14475 Woodinville-Redmond Road; 425.415.3865
Matthews Tasting Room and Farm: Matthews Winery has a modern farmhouse vibe and a clean, pretty aesthetic that work with its Bordeaux-inspired blends. Join the wine club and you (and your kids) get to pick produce and flowers at the farm next door. Woodinville, Hollywood District, 16116 140th Place NE; 425.487.9810
Novelty Hill/Januik: Watch the winemaking process from a catwalk, lounge in the sun on a spacious patio and get fierce about your bocce game at Novelty Hill/Januik, which is really two distinct wineries under the direction of one winemaker, former Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker Mike Januik. Woodinville, Hollywood District, 14710 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE; 425.481.5502
JM Cellars: Tucked into a former horticulturist’s enclave and neatly hidden from view, JM Cellars has a secluded patio perfect for tastings away from the hubbub—think wine tasting in the middle of Discovery Park. Leave time to explore the walking trails, Japanese maple collection and fire pits. Woodinville, West Valley District, 14404 137th Place NE; 425.485.6508
Guardian Cellars: True story: A cop and a crime reporter meet around the chalk line of a crime scene, fall in love, open a winery with labels like “The Alibi” and “Felony,” and transform a former antique store into a cozy tasting room—with booking photos on the walls, obviously. Woodinville, Hollywood District, 14525 148th Ave. NE, Suite 122; 206.713.8005
All Aboard the Woodinville Wine Express
New shuttle services make the wine tasting experience safer and seamless
Starline Luxury Coach is your new designated driver for your next wine tasting excursion to Woodinville, where more than 118 tasting rooms are located. Beginning this month, Starline is launching two shuttle services. The Woodinville Wine Express (425.287.3298; discoverstarline.com; purchase tickets in advance) will depart from locations in Seattle and Sea Tac and travel to Woodinville. Once arrived, you can step aboard the companion Woodinville Cellar Hopper ($20 daily), a hop-on, hop-off service with stops at 20 wineries. Guests can leave purchases and personal belongings on the shuttle—which runs in a loop–while they continue to explore all Woodinville has to offer. The shuttles will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 17 until September 29. Sydney Gladu