Village Wines may primarily spotlight Northwest wines and beers on its weekly-rotating menu, but its food menu draws inspiration from all over the globe, while a high-end selection of pick-me-ups from Stumptown Coffee and Choice teas provide a boost any time of the day. Hot and cold shareable plates evoke tapas-style dining, although the flavors atop each dish range from Asian to French, along with a kids' menu for younger taste palates. Pizzas come topped with combinations such as goat cheese and prosciutto or Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce with pulled chicken. Bistro-inspired sandwiches include styles from around the world, such as an authentic french-dip au jus, helping tongues experience France without licking the door to the Louvre.
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.
The bracing Italian-style brandy known as grappa flows from a vintage hammered-copper still and into oak barrels for aging at Soft Tail Spirits, a craft distillery that gathers its grape pressings from local Washington wineries. An Old-World still's 58,000-BTU burners boil up fresh batches of grappa, with characters of pear and apple-tinged Giallo and the pleasingly grainy sangiovese. Meanwhile, a multistep distillation process whips up batches of Soft Tail Spirits' sipping vodka, the slightly rebellious offspring of Washington State apples that took home the bronze at the 2010 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. Lead distiller Matthew welcomes visitors to the distillery for tours in which he shows off the facility, including the hammered-copper alembic he affectionately calls “Maggie,” before doling out samples and bestowing grappa converts with souvenir glassware for future bacchanalian feasts or Flat Earth Society meetings.
With its hand-blown glass light fixtures, beckoning fireplace, and old-growth walnut bar-top, VoVina’ cultivates an old-world elegance. The décor’s chic simplicity carries over into a menu of European- and American-style small plates, such as Angus beef sliders and black truffle tater-tots, crafted to complement dozens of tempting cocktails. The Fountain of Youth blends Bombay Sapphire, St. Germaine, and a touch of green chartreuse, and the Asian Pear arrives shaken and strained over a soft lychee. Further underlining the Jazz Age-feel, the bar touts one of the largest absinthe selections in the area. The legendary spirits are poured plain or blended into beverages, inspiring guests to dance the Charleston atop VoVina’s locally grown, recycled maple tables.
Travel to new and beautiful lands of vine-squeezed flavors with the extensive by-the-glass wine list at Vino Bello. Have a glass of 2009 Darling Hills Ovation (chenin blanc, South Africa; $6) or a 2007 Italian Vestini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($8.50) for lunch, or take advantage of the specials with a 5 o'clock glass of Kestrel Pure Platinum or Hob Nob pinot noir ($6) paired with a plate of marinated olives and rustic bread ($4). To rain a pilsner on the wine parade, order a Lagunitas ($3.50) with the crab and shrimp dip with crackers ($4), or branch out across the rest of the malted spectrum with an Asahi dry lager ($3.25) and some French chocolate truffles ($6). To reward your designated driver, order one of Vino Bello's specialty coffees, or research your graduate thesis on teetotalism with a rich, warming Illy latte ($3.50).
Thirty years ago, the Mielke family shifted its trade from cherry packing to growing, harvesting, and aging the grapes at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, which has won CityVoter's award for Best Winery for the last three years. The winery encompasses a warm-toned tasting room downtown as well as a 1924 Florentine-style estate perched on a cliff overlooking the Spokane River. The estate, registered as a National Historic Landmark, is home to a stone gazebo, 4 acres of gardens, and a gigantic checkers board for trees bored with feigning stillness. At each tasting room, knowledgeable oenophiles introduce palates to more than 15 handcrafted vintages to taste and take home. In addition to fermenting wines from its own grapes, the Mielke family sources grapes from mature vineyards around Washington.
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