Voted Best Tasting Room in the West by Sunset magazine, The Tasting Room works hard to dazzle palates both rookie and oenophile with the best Washington wines, as well as with hard-to-find vintages, limited editions, and artisan varietals. Tastes typically range between $2 and $6 an ounce, with full glasses starting at $4, and showcase pours from Wilridge Winery, Camaraderie Cellars, and other local purveyors. Indecisive imbibers, meanwhile, can take the stress out of decision-making by choosing a wine flight ($5–$15), a simpler and less terrifying alternative to the wine skydive.
At The Grape Adventure, a wine bar and restaurant that was recognized by the Washington State Wine Commission as a Grand Award winner in 2010, the menu of inventive tapas and upscale American cuisine teams up with a sprawling list of imported and domestic wines to sate hunger and thirst. The tapas-style avocado-hummus plate serves as a pool in which pita chips and tomatoes play ($8.95) and the steak bruschetta drapes seasoned steak and tomato salad over a warmly toasted baguette augmented by a gorgonzola spread ($9.95).
At The Scotch and Vine, owners David and Jill Pritchard blend upscale, artisan American cuisine, fine wines and scotches, and local, seasonal cuisine. The staff pours libations from more than 210 single malts, blends, bourbons, and ryes, as well as from a wine list that earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. With that deep selection to work from, friendly, knowledgeable tenders help diners pair their dinners with the ideal wine, craft beer, or whiskey. In the kitchen, meanwhile, expert chefs sizzle hearty elk burgers, juicy sirloin steaks, tender seared chicken, and roasted beet salads. This cuisine helped Scotch and Vine earn a spot on King5 Best of Western Washington's 2013 list of the area's five Best New American restaurants.
The strains of Spanish guitar and live blues bands form a classy soundtrack to wine tastings or seminars on Scotch-crafting, while plates of fine cheese from regional farms complement the flavors of smoky spirits, frosty brews, and rich red wine. The bistro's cushy leather booths, accents, and soft lighting evoke the image of a grandfather's cozy study or a precocious 6-year old’s tree fort.
The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.
There's a revolution happening in Woodinville, Washington. There's no violence though, unless you count the stomping of grapes. Home to hundreds of boutique wineries, the region is beginning to rival Napa Valley as the United States' biggest wine producer. Woodinville sits at the same longitude as France's wine country, allowing for optimal adult-grape-juice production and the ability to wear a beret with dignity. Barrel Wine Tours, a co-op of Woodinville winemakers, takes guests throughout the community on tours of the distilleries and wineries of these passionate part-time vintners. On a luxury coach, participants ride to four distilleries or wineries, and three-course lunches and wine pairings occur during each tour.