Touring the Wineries; Sipping the Wine

April 11, 2007 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

When I first learned that we’d be heading to Seattle/Tacoma, I googled the Visitors Bureau to start planning our getaway.  I found plenty to see and do. One thing that particularly intrigued me was the abundance of vineyards and wineries in Washington state. So I planned a day trip to the closest area, Woodinville, just 25 minutes northeast of Seattle.

Nearly 20 Wineries
It was an easy drive up to Woodinville, a small community A small vineyard is planted near the entrance to the Chateau Ste. Michelle estate to show visitors how the grapes are grown. The wine grapes are actually grown further south in the Columbia Valley.nestled in the Sammamish River Valley that is known as Woodinville Wine Country. The collective vision of the winemakers there is to create fine, world-class wines from Washington’s own grape harvests.

Chateau Ste. Michelle.
This beautiful estate and winery is the oldest winery in the state and owns some of the most mature vineyards in theOne of the winery buildings at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Columbia Valley. It is considered a premium winery and operates two winemaking facilities — one for whites and one for reds. Chateau Ste. Michelle  and its vintages have been significantly recognized many times over by Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast and Restaurant Wine publications.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is now in its 40th year of winemaking. It is housed in a French-style chateau on the former estate of One of the gardens on the Chateau Ste. Michelle estate.a lumber baron, whose residence has been maintained for the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds are spectacular and romantic, great for strolling or picnicking. In recent years, this winery has also partnered with a multi-generation Tuscan winemaker Marchesi Antinori, to create an internationally-styled red wine called Col Solare.  And they have also partnered with a famous German winemaker, Ernst Loosen, to produce a premium Riesling called Eroica and a dessert wine called Single Berry Select. So this winery offers a very broad selection of wines.

We Took the Winery Tour. A very knowledgeable Frenchman, whose name escapes me, conducted our winery tour. Casks aging at Chateau Ste. MichelleWe saw the casks of wine being stored and learned why certain wines are casked longer than others. We looked down on the bottling operation from a great vantage point. And we learned a bit about the history of winemaking in Washington as well as why they decided to partner with European winemasters to create new wine blends.

And then the Wine Tasting. At the conclusion of the tour, guests are invited to sample four of their famous wines. An essential part of the wine tasting is learning what grapes Wines are judged on a 1-100 scale; the higher the number the better the wine.were used, what food it might be paired with, how long the wine must age before it is ideal for decanting, etc. We bought several bottles of wine, including one of the dessert wines which we loved.

NEXT: The Columbia Winery in Woodinville

TIPS:
1) Plan an Impromptu Picnic.
The wineries we visited had assortments of cheeses, sausages, crackers and more that are ideal size for a picnic, as well as corks, openers,Garden walkway at Chateau Ste. Michelle glasses, etc. Even lovely picnic sets. How fun would it be to purchase a wine you like and some snacks to enjoy a picnic on the grounds of this lovely Pacific Northwest estate.

2) Shippers Are Available. If you want bring back a case or two, or even fewer bottles, the wineries have “shippers” and packing material available. They tell me wine would easily make the trip in these shipping boxes with other luggage under the airplane — as you cannot take any liquids past Security into the cabin.
3) Not All States Allow Wine to be Shipped In. The wineries have a list of states that do not permit shipments of wine into their state. But you can take the wine with you if you use a shipper or pack it in your suitcase. (They also have bubble wrap to help with that.)
4) Tours Available Daily. Chateau Ste. Michelle offers tours every day between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Free, of course. If you want to just stop in for a wine tasting without a tour, you will be charged a small fee for the wines you sample.
5) Winery Staff Very Helpful. Everyone we spoke with at Chateau Ste. Michelle was pleasant and most helpful. They are used to a wide range of wine connoisseurs (and those like me who are not such a connoisseur) coming in to sample, ask questions and request recommendations. You can feel comfortable there, even if you don’t have a clue about wine varieties. You’ll easily pick up a few tips and some wines you can really enjoy.

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Entry filed under: Seattle, Wineries and Vineyards.

LIVE FROM SEATTLE! It’s Midwest Airlines! Sipping, Shopping at Columbia Winery

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