How many cities have over 100 wineries and tasting rooms within their metropolitan areas? Paris? New York? San Francisco? Try Seattle! Seattleites are so used to being able to taste wine at the Tasting Room downtown or heading south a few miles to the South Park industrial zone that they sometimes rebel at the idea of a trip to Woodinville "out in the sticks". Of course, MIcrosofties who work right next door, would tell you it's worth it to drive a mere half an hour to reach some of the best wineries in the world.
This year there were a disproportionate number of outstanding wines to taste and purchase. Is that because 2007 may have been the greatest vintage ever in Washington State or because the wine makers have been honing their skills? Wine in Seattle? Where do they grow the grapes? Not in rainy Seattle? Grapes are trucked over the Cascade Mountains in small lugs for the Puget Sound artisans to make their wine. Recently, the grapes have been followed by Eastern Washington wineries from the AVAs such as the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla. Save three to five hours of driving time by going to Woodinville. As Willie Sutton said, you go where the money is, and as Vladimer Putin said, you do what you have to do. So it was a pleasant surprise to find Brett Isenhower setting up his tasting room for the weekend. Brett's wines are excellent. Some other wonderful interlopers from Eastern Washington include Goose Ridge, Airfield, Alder Ridge, Canon De Sol, Irlandes, and Dusted Valley.
You really should organize your trip to Woodinville geographically, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy driving all over Woodinville and getting lost. Fortunately the vast majority of wineires and tasting rooms are pretty much concentrated in a few areas. In the northern end of town are two warehouse districts full of wineries. North of North Woodinville Way you will find dozens of wineries tucked away in a commercial zone. Enter the zone and you will be barraged with cool wineries such as Barrage, Sparkman, Gorman, and Patterson to name jsut a few. Efeste is an outlier just up the street on the opposite side. BelowWoodinville Way is another "warehouse" district buried in the midst of newly built housing. "Would you run down to the winery, dear, and pick up a bottle of wine for lunch." Here you will find giants such as Hestia, Covington, Pomum, and Chatter Creek. If you not exhausted and anesthetized by now head down to the intersection of 140th Pl NE and NE 144th St. Here you will find most of the refugees from Eastern Washington.
Further south on HY 202 you will find such bright stars as DeLIlle and Betz wineries. Although(they were closed and didn't participate in Passport, they are must taste wineries, as are Januik, Novelty Hill, Brian Carter and Adams Bench which is "out in the stick" less than a mile down NE 146th Pl. Tune in next time (whenever that is!) for some new wineries, some tasting notes, and the Best of Woodinville using my new "three swallow" system.
BTW, you don't have to wait 'til Passport weekend to taste Woodinville wines. Most of the wineries are open weekends and some everyday.