Washington Wine Country Getaways: Columbia Valley

A tour through Washington’s most scenic destination wineries

By Paul Zitarelli October 14, 2014


This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Seattle magazine.


Heading east out of Leavenworth, you catch your first glimpse of the mighty Columbia near Wenatchee, where you turn north along the river toward Lake Chelan. On the south shore of the lake, you’ll find Nefarious Cellars (Chelan, 495 S Lakeshore Road; 509.682.9505; nefariouscellars.com), where Heather Neff makes the white wines, her husband, Dean, makes the red wines, and Lucy Neff serves as the greeter. (Lucy is a golden retriever.) The winery patio—bedecked with colorful furniture—has an enchanting view of the lake, but look even closer and you can see Nefarious’ estate Defiance Vineyard rolling down the slope.

Viognier and Syrah from this site are among the finest wines made from Lake Chelan grapes.

On your way out of town, you’d be wise to pass through Chelan proper and grab a quick lunch at the Apple Cup Café (Chelan, 804 E Woodin Ave.; 509.682.5997; applecupcafe.com), a diner satisfying apple farmers, winemakers and vacationers alike. Breakfast is served all day, so if you’re the type who enjoys pancakes or chicken-fried steak and eggs in the afternoon, you won’t be disappointed.

Then it’s about 90 miles south along the Columbia, the drive dotted with apple trees, breathtaking basalt outcrops and mini storage units, into the Ancient Lakes region, Washington’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA).

Here, adjacent to famed outdoor concert venue the Gorge Amphitheatre, you’ll find Cave B Estate Winery and Resort (Quincy, 348 Silica Road NW; 509.787.8000; caveb.com). The desolate sagebrush landscape looks uninhabitable, but thanks to irrigation, all is possible, and the estate vineyards at Cave B emerge as a green oasis in the desert.

The winery and resort—perched on a sweeping bluff above the Columbia—are intertwined. For example, luxury yurts are scattered through some of the vineyard blocks, giving an impression of being somewhere between wine country and the Mongolian steppe. Cave B wines used to seem like an afterthought, but in recent years, winemaker Alfredo “Freddy” Arredondo has turned them into a reason to visit. With some of the only sections of the Ancient Lakes AVA warm enough to ripen red grapes, Cave B has developed a broad portfolio of wines expressive of this unique terroir in which they’re grown.

Cave B’s Cliffehouses in Quincy are embedded into the hills for a gorgeous view of the river

Arredondo’s wines are also available at the on-site restaurant, Tendrils, where the menu takes advantage of its location in the vineyards, offering clever items such as pork belly smoked with grapevine wood. After dinner, it’s back to your yurt, or better yet, one of Cave B’s Cliffehouses. Designed by notable Seattle architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, each Cliffehouse has a small patio perfect for watching the sunset light up the Columbia in hues of claret and gold.

Best Bottles to Bring Home

Nefarious Cellars Syrah, Defiance Vineyard // Cave B Cuvée Blanc



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