Seattle's bustling Pike Place Market might be the last place you'd expect to find an authentic European-style wine cave. But that's exactly what guests to The Tasting Room Seattle find at this tasting cellar nestled between Stewart and Virginia Streets. But while the elegant surrounds might feel distinctly European, the vintages all hail from much closer to home. All of the wines served at this shop––and its sister location in Yakima Valley––come from Washington producers, and each winery featured (Harlequin Wine Cellars and Wilridge Winery, to name a few) is winemaker-owned. To help customers become acquainted with the artisan wines from their home state, the staff offers tastings of current releases and a few library wines, and presents a selection of salumi and cheeses from around the world, with recommendations for pairing or dunking.
For more than 30 years, Blue Sky Outfitters has been equipping rafters to barrel down rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Whether floating past bald eagles on the the still waters of the Skagit River or plummeting down the 14-foot Husum Falls, the company's whitewater rafts—helmed by capable pilots—meander through wildlife that stuns with the power of a beautiful, inspiring electric fence. For land-bound trips, adventurers can strap on snowshoes and journey through the Leavenworth Valley, or peer through the wide windows of the Adventure Bus as it journeys through wine country. All whitewater trips include a barbecue meal with sirloin, corn on the cob, potato salad, and a deep sense of satisfaction.
Every time he begins a new handcrafted batch, winemaker Philip Coates strives to bring out the elemental flavors of his Washington-grown grapes. A limited production schedule lets Philip and his team spend more time on each varietal, de-stemming grapes by hand before fermenting batches with native yeasts and aging them in french oak barrels. Next, they fill, cork, and wax each bottle by hand before applying labels designed by local artists.
Though his repertoire has grown since 21 Cellars’ inception in 2003, Philip’s specialty remains bordeaux varietals, including a 2009 malbec and the 2006 Pont 21 cabernet sauvignon, which _Seattle _ magazine deemed Washington’s top new wine of 2011. Alongside wine by the bottle, staffers pour samples of current wines at weekly tastings at 21 Cellars’ own tasting room—a cozy grotto lined with oak barrels.
Woodinville Wine Tastings unites four wineries that sit within a pleasant walk of each other. At Davenport Cellars, patrons may sip cabernet sauvignon aged in French oak beneath impressionist oil paintings of natural landscapes. John Patterson of Patterson Cellars lets more than two decades of experience shine through in swirling elixirs, and red blends at Pondera Winery show a range of crimson shades like a bull’s anger-management counselor. Bordeaux grapes from a handful of Columbia Valley vineyards mingle in the shop’s cuvee, and guests at William Church Winery stroll beneath walnut-hued barrels, clicking together glasses of a pinot gris that hints at lemon zest and green apples.
Opening Covington Cellars was a natural step for David and Cindy Lawson—he loved home winemaking, she loved pushing the boundaries of her home kitchen. Eventually, they decided to turn their hobbies into something larger. David enrolled at UC Davis to study enology (the study of seminal winemaker Brian Eno) while Cindy expanded her knowledge of cooking and wine at culinary schools around the country. Today, the two oversee a diverse line of wines and a locally sourced, seasonal menu to match. They also share their enthusiasm with visitors during winemaking events, tours, dinners, and bottle-smashing parties.