Best Place Washington Wine Country
East of the Cascade Mountains, Washington’s signature evergreen forests and jagged peaks give way to rolling hills, rocky soil, sunny skies, and miles of agricultural land where grapes thrive.
Washington Wine Country Although European immigrants were planting grapes in the region in the 19th century, it wasn’t until the 1970s that southeast Washington began to grow a reputation for premium vintages, exploding into one of the biggest viticultural scenes in the country. Washington’s wines, notably its robust reds—cabs and merlots—are known to stand up against California’s best. Think of it as a mini Napa Valley, without the exorbitant prices and elite clientele.
Washington’s wine country stretches east from the Yakima Valley, home to not only grape growers but hop fields fueling the craft beer movement, to the Tri-Cities, a trio of towns with wineries on their outskirts, and farther east to the center of Washington’s wine country in Walla Walla, a breezy town bursting at the seams with tasting rooms and great dining options.
Don’t pack anything fancy for a trip to Washington wine country, just sunglasses year-round (this ain’t the rainy side of the state) and a willingness to hang with the people who create some of the best bottles in the country.
Wine country in Washington begins with Walla Walla—for pure beauty, concentration of wine attractions, and stellar dining, it can’t be beat. The town merits at least a two- to three-day stay. Most people stay in the walkable downtown for access to restaurants and tasting rooms, making excursions into the surrounding countryside to visit a few wineries.
Yakima Valley is more agricultural and the Tri-Cities more residential. Both are closer to Seattle and would make good stopovers on a road trip from the big city to Walla Walla—consider visiting one on the way to, and one on the way back—as each has its own collection of wineries and tasting rooms, as well as some diverting attractions of the natural, historical, and quirky roadside variety.