Washington State’s Wine Country

The vast, wondrous Washington wine country rests east of the Cascade Mountains. Here you’ll enjoy panoramic views of rolling hills and the bright green glow of grapevines and opulent fruit orchards. Home to over 1,000 wineries, Washington earns the title of second-largest premium wine-producing region in the United States. The climate in this region brings dry, perpetually sunny summers perfect for exploring nearby lakes and snow-filled cold seasons that satisfy winter sports enthusiasts. Between Leavenworth, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima, you’ll find eating, shopping, year-round recreational activities and a plethora of offerings for outdoor adventures in Washington’s wine country.

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Leavenworth

Leavenworth is a charming, Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascade Mountains.

About

Leavenworth a former logging and railroad town has evolved into a quaint, Bavarian village since the 1950’s reminiscent of Garmisch, Germany.  Set in the eastern slopes of the Cascades, Leavenworth offers ample year-round activities for all ages in this uniquely transformed Alpine village.  The area offers a wide variety of winter sports including skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. In summer, hike the surrounding mountains, lakes, forests, and head to Icicle River for serious kayaking. Stroll the charming downtown with its Nutcracker Museum or nearby Blackbird Island trails for bird watching. Enjoy delicious German and Pacific NW cuisine with unique shopping and so many wine-tasting opportunities.

This popular tourist destination is set amidst the Wenatchee National Forrest. The list of things to do in and around Leavenworth is long, so we suggest you visit their Leavenworth.org calendar for lively festivals and an abundance of in and outdoor activities.  There are many local breweries, craft liquor distilleries, wineries and cider mills to enjoy your favorite adult beverages.

We suggest two great options when staying in and around Leavenworth.  Abendblume, a Bavarian-styled bed and breakfast is in Leavenworth across from peaceful horse pastures. This recreated old world alpine retreat with lovely views, offers luxury amenities for their seven opulent suites, and is close to local restaurants and activities.  About 15 minutes down the road is Warm Springs Inn & Winery, a historic mansion on the banks of the Wenatchee River with 10 acres of gorgeous gardens and old-growth trees, custom gourmet breakfasts and six beautiful rooms.

Leavenworth has four distinct seasons. Summer daytime highs average 85 degrees with nighttime lows in the mid-50s. In winter the daily highs are around 35-40 degrees dropping to below freezing at night. Summers are relatively dry but expect snow in winter. Fall and Spring seasons are spectacular from vibrant golden foliage to fragrant cherry, pear and apple blossoms everywhere.

Getting to this region from Seattle is an easy scenic 2 ½ hour drive through the Cascade Mountains.  From Seattle you can travel east on I-90, over Snoqualmie Pass and then north on US-97 over Blewitt Pass then left onto US-2 into Leavenworth or right towards Wenatchee. Traveling north towards Everett, catch Hwy US-2 over Stevens Pass with heart stopping views of the Cascades and thick forests. This is mountain travel so be prepared.  Although the roads are well maintained throughout the year, always check the Washington DOT Mountain Pass webpage for current road conditions.  Chains are required to be carried in your car during the winter months.

Fall & Winter in Leavenworth

This charming town hosts a number of popular festivals throughout the year.  Venues have live music, exciting foods and arts & crafts displays.  The Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival is the oldest festival in Washington with a Grand Parade and Alpenfolks. Experience the gorgeously dense and colorful forests surrounding Leavenworth.

Christkindlmarkt, the annual Bavarian Festhalle Holiday Market begins in late November with family friendly holiday entertainment. It marks the beginning of the Village of Lights Festival when Leavenworth is illuminated by half a million Christmas lights (that stay on continually through February).  Special activities happen daily, not just weekends, from carolers, Alpenhorn buglers to local artisans, Santa and crafts. The gazebo located in the center of town serves as the main stage for entertainment all day.  Karneval or “Fasching” happens for three weekends in January with ice sculpture contests, a weekend fireworks show and carnival activities.

Take the family skiing, sledding and tubing at Ski Hill operated by the Leavenworth Ski Club.  Head to Stevens Pass only 30 miles away for more serious skiing and snowboarding.  Visit the Reindeer Farm, go on a sleigh ride, or snowshoe around the Leavenworth Golf Course trails.

Spring and Summer in Leavenworth

Maifest kicks off the bountiful Spring season with the opening of farmers markets.  There’s Maipole dancing, Bavarian music, a Grand March and Alphorn Celebration with Chainsaw carving and a Ciderfest.  The town is surrounded by over 700 miles of forest service trails, perfect for hiking. If you are into climbing, there are over 50 crags within 10 miles offering spectacular views of the Cascades and the valley.  It’s the kick-off for hiking the 23-mile Enchantment Loop including many alpine lakes.  There are also several golf courses for every playing level including one in town with real goats.

In summer try kayaking, tubing, paddleboarding or rafting on the Wenatchee River as you can bring your own or rent equipment at several places.  Head to Lake Wenatchee, Fish Lake or the Wenatchee River for seasonal recreational fishing.  Visit Plain, WA and its adorable hardware store or make a reservation to ZipLine through the forest.

Mountain and road bikers will find miles of scenic byways in the area. Head out along the Chumstick Highway loop, into Cashmere’s Dry Gulch trail to Mission Ridge; past Pinnacles rock-climbing park.  Or head to the Apple Capital Loop Trail in Wenatchee which is 10+ miles of scenic, groomed paths along the Columbia River where you can picnic, swim and complete a full circle from Pybus Market to Lincoln Rock State Park.

Featured Places to Stay in Leavenworth

Walla Walla

Walla Walla is a charming, green oasis set on the edge of the high desert of eastern Washington. This is a world class wine destination.

About

Walla Walla is a quirky small town. Originally a farming community known for its wheat and sweet onions, Walla Walla has grown to be a world class wine destination.  Set on the east side of the Cascade Range, Walla Walla is surrounded by rolling wheat fields, apple orchards, vineyards and snow-capped mountains. It is a beautiful oasis at the edge of high desert full of great food and wine.

Walla Walla is home to Whitman College, a liberal arts institution founded in 1859 as well as Walla Walla University, a liberal arts and technical school founded in 1892.

Walla Walla Washington weather is hotter and dryer than the western part of the state. Walla Walla experiences only 20 inches of rainfall a year. Average summer day time highs are in the mid 80’s with nighttime lows around 60 degrees. In winter the average daily high temperatures are in the 40’s and nighttime lows can reach 30 degrees.

Traveling to Walla Walla is easy. Drive time from Portland or Seattle is about 4 hours or there are daily flights from Seattle Tacoma International Airport

Things to Do

Walla Walla is graced with beautiful parks. Visit Bennington Lake with its walking trails, or Pioneer Park with its 100-year-old towering sycamore trees and beautiful duck pond and aviary. Fort Walla Walla includes a museum, military cemetery, and a wild bird sanctuary. West of Walla Walla is the Whitman Mission and Visitors Center. Set on the historic Oregon Trail, the Whitman Mission played an important part in the expansion of the west.

Main Street in downtown Walla Walla is lined with boutique shops, art galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants.

There are over 150 Walla Walla wineries. With this many wineries there is always an event or tasting to make your visit to Walla Walla WA a special one. Hop on a bike and tour the vineyards south of town. Head to the and visit the world’s only three-hole golf course winery or visit a unique schoolhouse tasting room. Visit the Airport District. Here you will find over 20 wineries as well as shops, restaurants and bakeries, all within easy walking distance of the Walla Walla Regional Airport.

Where there is great wine, there is great food. Premier chefs are choosing Walla Walla because of the abundance of fresh, local ingredients and the wonderful local wines. Here the atmosphere is laid back, the dress is casual, but the food is world class.

Featured Places to Stay in Walla Walla

Wenatchee

Wenatchee is set at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The fertile Wenatchee Valley is known as the Apple Capital of the World.

About

The Wenatchee area boasts a wide variety of outdoor activities year around. Hikers, walkers, bikers and cyclists enjoy the Apple Capital Loop Trail. This 11 mile paved trail runs along the Columbia River and is easily accessed from downtown Wenatchee. The Horan Natural Area is a 100 acre area converted to manmade wetlands. Set at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers, this area is the perfect spot for birders-watchers. The Wenatchee Forest includes 2.2 million acres and offers opportunities for mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, paddling and show shoeing. This wilderness area offer spots that are pet friendly, family friendly and handicapped accessible.

In winter, head to Mission Ridge, just 12 miles from Wenatchee for downhill skiing. Mission Ridge includes over 2000 acres and offers lots of sunshine, great powder and spectacular views. You will also find opportunities for snowboarding, cross country skiing, tubing and snowmobiling in the areas surrounding the Wenatchee Valley.

The Columbia River is lined with dams for hydro-electric power. Visit Rocky Reach Dam and Museum. Learn more about the construction and maintenance of the dam, have lunch and enjoy the views. The dam also has viewing windows to the fish ladders. Here you can watch Steelhead and Salmon heading upstream in the fall.

Wenatchee enjoys four distinct seasons. High temperatures in the winter are in the mid 30s with some snow. In the summer, highs can reach the mid 80s with lots of sun.

Wenatchee is a scenic 3 hour drive from Seattle over I-90 and the Cascade Mountains. Take US Route 97 north over Blewett Pass. This is a beautiful drive, any time of the year, but check WSDOT Pass Reports in winter.

Festivals and Events

Wenatchee WA, known as the Apple Capital of the World, celebrates with the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival each April/May. The festival extends from the last weekend in April through the first weekend in May. Enjoy great food, local arts and crafts and a wide variety of entertainment and activities. Listed as the oldest major fair in Washington state, activities include the Classy Chassis Car Show, parades and a golf tournament. This celebration showcases the bounty and talent of the Wenatchee valley.

Other local events include The Chelan County Fair, held the first weekend of September, includes lots of western fun. Watch local cowboys compete and perform in the rodeo. Enjoy lots of rides, great food and local fun. Enjoy music in June at the Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival. This is the longest running bluegrass festival in eastern Washington and includes national, regional and local talent.

Featured Places to Stay in Wenatchee

Yakima

Yakima is located in the Yakima Valley in the shadow of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. This is the gateway to Washington wine country.

About

Two majestic mountains, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, overlook the Yakima Valley and the City of Yakima, located on the east desert side of the Cascade Mountains. Yakima WA is the largest city and the top destination in Central Washington. The Yakima Valley stretches southeast along the Yakima River from the town of Naches all the way to Tri-Cities, where the Yakima flows into the “Mighty Columbia” on its way to the Pacific Ocean. Fascinating geological history at the Yakima Valley Museum explains the shrub-steppe desert environment. Mountain snows, three rivers, and irrigation systems make the desert bloom. Yakima is the ‘gateway’ to Washington Wine Country, with award-winning wines, tasting rooms in the vineyards, and year-round events. Find your passion here: hike, fish, golf, bike, birds, music, art, dining, and sunshine!

Yakima has four distinct seasons and enjoys a dry, sunny climate. This fertile valley, home to numerous orchards and berry farms is also the largest hops growing area in North America. Travel the Craft Beverage Trail and enjoy great local wines and spirits.

Yakima has 4 distinct seasons. Summer is hot and dry with temperatures reaching the mid-80’s. Winter means light snow in the area with daytime temperatures in the high 30’s. Just 2+ hours east of Seattle on I-90 and I-82 or 3+ hours northeast of Portland via I-84 east and US Route 97 north. You can also fly from SeaTac Airport to Yakima daily.

Spring in Yakima

Spring is characterized by sunny days, crisp nights, blossoming orchards, and u-pick farms and berry farms. Wineries host Spring Barrel Tasting weekends in April. In May, events include “Cinco de Mayo” and “Tour of Artists Homes”. The Yakima Farmer’s Market opens downtown on Sundays, mid-May through October. This is ‘farm to table’ at its freshest and best. Yakima River Canyon spring events include the Yakima Canyon Marathon, and a scenic bike ride on Your Canyon For a Day.

Summer in Yakima

Summer is noted for long, hot, sunny days with cool desert nights. Locals and visitors enjoy concerts in the parks, downtown music and events, u-pick farms for berries, apples, and other fruit. Restaurants invite you to dine either inside or outside, serve local wines, beers, and meals prepared with fresh local ingredients. The Yakima Valley is the largest hops growing region in North America. You’ll see hop fields as you travel through the Valley on the Craft Beverage Trail, including breweries, wineries and distilleries. In late September, enjoy the famous Central WA State Fair, with top-name entertainers and all that state fairs offer.

Fall in Yakima

Autumn is distinguished with warm and sunny days with crisp nights. Celebrate in early October harvest events and activities such as the Fresh Hop Ale Festival followed by the vineyard version, Catch The Crush. An exciting weekend tradition held every year in Yakima on the day after Thanksgiving and through the weekend is Thanksgiving in Wine Country.

Intellectually and culturally stimulating top class professional entertainment abounds in Yakima including live theatre at several venues, but most notably, the beautifully restored Capitol Theatre, a 1500 seat performing arts center in downtown Yakima. Also performing regularly at the Capitol Theatre is the combined affiliation of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra and the Yakima Symphony Chorus with performances during the fall, winter and spring. Another exciting venue for multi-genre musical concerts and art performances is Yakima’s The Seasons Performance Hall. Live music is also featured in several downtown restaurants and tasting rooms.

Winter in Yakima

Winter is the “The Quiet Season” in Yakima with “dustings of snow” on the hillsides and orchards. Wineries present Red Wine & Chocolates on President’s Day weekend. Locals and visitors love to ski at White Pass on Hwy. 12, an hour west of Yakima. During the “quiet season”, concerts, theatre, art galleries, and exhibits are in full swing.

Grandview WA is a small farming community located about 45 minutes from Yakima and 45 minutes from the bustling Tri-Cities area. Set in the center of wine country, Grandview have expansive views of local farmland, snow-capped Mount Adams and towering Mount Rainier. With the dry sunny climate, it is a great spot for outdoor activities like cycling and hiking. The area is surrounded by world class wineries and tasting rooms. Cozy Rose is a romantic inn set in the heart of Grandview and the wine country. Relax in the serene, park-like setting.

Featured Places to Stay in Yakima

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