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 beauty. 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
Sassafras, sarsaparilla, and vanilla: above all, these are the flavors celebrated by The Root Beer Store, which is chock-full of root beers from around the country. Owner Corey Anderson grew up making root beer with his dad, generating his admiration for root-beer culture. Anderson was featured on King 5 for his passion for the soft drink, which manifests in his selection of more than 100 types from craft root-beer makers. From Hawaii to Maine to Australia, the creativity of each brewer shines in the collection, which customers browse with visions of ice cubes and ice cream to accompany them. The staff is on hand to help home brewers make their own soda with root-beer kits, extracts from different brewers, and the lyrics to the chant sung to the root-beer lord before starting each batch.
With the help of his uncle Tom Campbell, who just happens to be a seasoned enologist and viticulturist, Bijal Shah and his wife Sinead founded The Woodhouse Wine Estates in 2004. The winery's vintages are brought to life by Jean Claude Beck, whose winemaking genes reach back to Alsace, France, where his family estate has been crafting wine since 1579. The team at Woodhouse focuses on expressing the unique terroir of each grape?s origin, yielding balanced, mature wines marked by full flavors. Inside the tasting room, chandeliers sparkle over a long bar, where visitors can sip pours of any number of select wines.
Like many of the best things in life, winemaking began as a hobby for Bob and Flossie Heymann. The operation quickly grew to be much more than they could drink themselves, and when they shared the fruits of their labor with friends, they were repeatedly encouraged to turn the hobby into a business venture. Thus, Heymann Whinery was born. Initially, they focused on fruit wines, but have since expanded to include chardonnay, cabernet, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon. True to their roots, they also stock a variety of home winemaking equipment and accessories.
At Precept Wine, one of the largest privately owned wine companies in the Northwest, they know how to pair decadent flavors. Winemaker Hal Landvoigt combined wine and chocolate in his lab, creating Chocolate Shop, a non-vintage wine. According to the website, it's still the best-selling chocolate red wine in the US.
Hal is just one of the company's 13 winemakers, who are stationed at wineries in Pacific Northwest areas from Washington State's Yakima Valley to Idaho's Snake River Valley. At their posts, they work primarily with grapes cultivated from local vineyards, although some batches are imported from around the world.
Regardless of their grapes' origins, though, their award-winning wines brim with touches informed by plenty of travel. Landvoigt, for one, has traveled through such famed wine regions as Burgundy in France, Salta in Argentina, and the wine waterfall in Dionysus's dreams. At Precept's eight tasting rooms, the knowledgeable staff can help patrons trace a glass of wine's international influences and local roots.
Forget lengthy lists of hard-to-pronounce preservatives?each batch of Empire Ice Cream starts with a base that contains just four ingredients: eggs, evaporated cane juice, and cream and milk from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy. From there, the ice cream makers simply fold in extra ingredients to make various flavors, relying on local providers like Hayton Farms, who supply the berries for the shop's raspberry and strawberry ice creams, or Stumptown Coffee, who delivers the ground espresso beans for Empire's coffee-flavored ice cream. There's even a unique bacon-flavored ice cream made with real pieces of local, natural bacon, as well as a s'mores ice cream loaded with house-made marshmallows and real vine-ripened graham crackers. Brownies and cinnamon rolls from Eat Local are also available in the shop, and sometimes make their way into decadent sundaes.