Walla Walla Valley is a must visit for wine lovers! I’m not the only one who thinks so. It has been named America’s Best Wine Region in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards two years in a row. If you’re wondering where to eat and drink in Walla Walla and want the perspective of a wine industry insider, just use this personal itinerary from my trip last June as a guide. These wineries and restaurants are not to be missed during two days in Walla Walla.
Getting to Walla Walla
Walla Walla is in southeastern Washington on the border of Oregon. It’s about a four-hour drive from Seattle via I-90 and I-82. Unless you’re me. It takes me closer to five and a half to six hours. I mean why would you want to drive past other great wine regions like Yakima Valley and Red Mountain without stopping?
The hubby and I usually take a break at Treveri Cellars for lunch since it’s pretty much half way there, about two and a half hours from Seattle. This family-owned sparkling wine house is directly off Interstate 82, so it’s right along the way. They offer a food menu and sparkling wines by the glass or in a tasting flight.
If road trips aren’t your thing, flying is an option. Plus, Alaska Air has a program that lets wine fly free, so you can still bring home your favorite bottles!
The hubby’s hotel of choice in Walla Walla is the Courtyard by Marriott. It’s just off Main Street, the heart of the charming historic downtown district, and within walking distance to the restaurants listed here. However, this itinerary does require transportation for visits to the wineries in the Southside and Oregon district (all but Foundry Vineyards).
Day 1 in Walla Walla
Wine Tasting at Foundry Vineyards
My first winery visit on this trip was a meeting with Jay Anderson at Foundry Vineyards on behalf of my work for the Slow Wine Guide USA. Jay and his sister, Lisa, are second generation owners of this appealing intersection between wine and art.
In 2017 Jay took over wine production with the realization that he didn’t want the winery to bottle a product made according to a formula that forces it to taste a certain way. Lisa is general manager.
What’s to Love
The tasting room is a visual showcase and designed as an art gallery.
There is an outdoor patio that provides shade and tables distanced from one another.
Wines from Pet Project, their exciting venture based on the ancestral method of winemaking, are also on offer if they’re not sold out.
In 2018 Jay began a transition toward organic grapes and indigenous yeasts. Roughly 10% of grapes come from the estate vineyard, which completed the three-year organic certification process in 2020. The rest of the wine is thoughtfully sourced from four other organic sites.
From the richly textured White on White blend redolent of stone fruit to the wildly delicious GSM in which some of the juice underwent carbonic maceration, there are a wide array of wines here that surprise and delight!
Wine Tasting at Caprio Cellars
Caprio Cellars features spot on food pairings with polished irresistible wines. This estate winery should be high up on any wine and food lover’s list of places to visit. Just be sure to plan ahead as reservations are required.
What’s to Love
The food pairings by Chef Ian Williams were phenomenal! Dishes included prawns and meatballs, but in my opinion the star was a luscious Brie panna cotta.
The Eleanor Bordeaux style blend ($48/bottle) is elegant and impressive.
Dinner at AK’s Mercado
Located on Main Street, Chef Andrae Bopp has a massive following and his dining stop is known for tacos, tacos, tacos!
Pro tip: this place doesn’t take reservations so if you don’t want to wait long for a table avoid peak dining hours (they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Go there for an early bird dinner (yeah, I can’t believe I just said that either!) and request a table on the patio.
Day 2 in Walla Walla
Force Majeure Vineyards
This upscale winery is in Milton Freewater on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. During my visit I regretfully only had time to stop by to pick up wine I’d ordered. However, the tasting setup is quite enticing. So much so that it’s on our list for next time.
What’s to Love
Force Majeure offers a high-end experience and impressive wines. It’s a little spendy compared to other options at $50 per person for a winery tour and estate tasting. However, I’m willing to bet it’s totally worth it. Their Syrah is an absolute favorite in our house.
This Walla Walla winery is owned by fifth generation Rioja based Bodegas Valdemar. The Spaniards created quite a buzz when they selected this location, so a visit to see what they’ve done here seemed mandatory. Plus, talented Marie Eve Gilla who was winemaker at Forgeron Cellars for 18 years is the winemaker.
What’s to love?
Valdemar Estates is the first winery in the United States to offer a 100-percent inclusive and accessible wine tourism experience. From Braille wine and food menus to wheelchair availability, this destination and its staff are prepared to serve all guests.
Tasting flights offer wines made in Walla Walla as well as the Spanish wines from Bodegas Valdemar. How cool is that?
A number of tasty tapas and food options are available to accompany wine tasting. The Spinach and Garbanzo Tartine is so good that I made a version of it at home.
Pro tip: this place is wildly busy, so be sure to make a reservation in advance and don’t expect to linger.
Grosgrain Vineyards is making every wine you didn’t know you need including skin contact Semillon and Lemberger Pet Nat.
What’s to Love
Grosgrain is a family-owned operation that includes a winery, tasting room, patio, and guest house set amid vineyards.
Each tasting flight arrived on a tray with a playful and descriptive print out. At the time it was a new approach, and I hope it sticks. The experience at Grosgrain Vineyards is welcoming, unintimidating, and a lot of fun. I appreciated that Assistant Winemaker, Andrew, was generous with his time while answering my questions.
Peter Devison is a seriously talented winemaker crafting well-structured wines built to age. He and I worked together at the same winery for five years before he and his wife Kelsey started up their own family winery. I have immense respect for this hard working duo. In fact, I’ve written about them twice before, and gone into detail about Peter’s exceptional winemaking.
What’s to Love
Devison Vintners is truly a boutique operation and their cellar door tastings are guided by either Peter or Kelsey. It’s the best possible way to learn about what went into each wine.
Peter wants the Devison Vinters wines to express a sense of place, to serve as a reminder of the variety, vintage, and vineyard.He embraces native fermentation and is a master of rosé.
The elegant rosé is our house wine every summer, and the reds are absolutely mesmerizing. Quality is the name of the game.
Dinner at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen
This restaurant serves exquisite food, and the service is wonderful.
What’s to Love
The smallish plates make it feasible to order multiple dishes for sharing. We always enjoy the mezze and one of the house made pasta selections.
Pro tip: book your reservation well in advance, this place books up fast.
There you have it, two glorious wine soaked days in Walla Walla!
Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
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