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.
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.
It’s static-free, stain-resistant, wind-proof, and warm. And like any versatile crop, it’s harvested on farms—from the backs of sheep. Since 1976, Cloud Nine Sheepskin has specialized in products made from sheepskin. Its fibers boast a laundry list of naturally beneficial qualities, including its ability to stay warm even when wet. Sheepskin slippers, rugs, seat covers, hats, and boots make up some of the more than 500 products in the company’s stock, and each item is guaranteed to be free of sheepskin-disguised wolves looking to sneak into your closet and get their paws on some of those shoes dogs are always going on about.
In 1976, Margaret Dunlap, who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, began working with riding instructor Debra Powell. Over time, Dunlap realized that horseback riding seemed to ameliorate the effects of the disease. She joined forces with Powell to form a therapeutic horseback-riding program in the community. Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center has come a long way since then, expanding from 5 to 250 riders, who participate in hippotherapy and adaptive-riding sessions each week.
Working with horses helps riders with disabilities gain muscle strength, prevent bone weakness, and improve balance and hand-eye coordination. Riding also offers a fun outdoor activity and an opportunity to socialize with other participants. Set on 4.5 acres of rural land, the Little Bit facility houses 19 program horses in a 20-stall barn. Horse and rider meet once a week to navigate nearby trails, providing people with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities a chance to exercise and bond with the animals.
When Josh Lawrence joined his father and uncle to work the land the Lawrence family had farmed for nearly a half-century, he wanted the fruits of his labor to be tasted in a glass. So they began Lawrence Vineyards in 2003 with just one block of vines and a single garden gnome for security in the sunny Frenchman Hills bearing the family's name. From there, the planting and production flourished, and today more than a dozen varieties of grapes populate nearly 125 acres of land. For the Lawrences, Gård Vintners was the natural next step, and a host of award-winning wines followed. Today, they invite visitors into their two tasting rooms to sample a variety of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Riesling, and refreshing Rosé with notes of strawberry jam and fresh herbs. Guests may also purchase bottles of their favorite varietal or enjoy glasses of Gard Vintners wine at restaurants throughout the area.