While visiting Columbia Valley, what made these wineries unique was the experience we had there. Since we left Mendoza, Argentina in January of 2020, we have not been to a winery for a tasting or a tour and it’s been one of the hardest things to accept during the pandemic. That connection that you develop with the vineyard and/or winemaker when you are there in person and learning about the struggles every winemaker goes through is something that we really enjoy.
On our recent trip to Washington & Oregon, we decided to split our time between hiking and wine tasting. We visited different wine regions and learned about different grapes and wine-making processes in both states. In our journey through Washington State, Columbia Valley, we had great experiences at these three wineries.
THREE UNIQUE WINERIES WE VISITED
Sheridan Vineyard – Yakima Valley
The reason that we enjoyed Sheridan so much is that it wasn’t even a winery we were planning to visit. We booked the wine tasting at a completely different winery that we had a really hard time finding. When we called asking for directions they were completely surprised that we had a reservation at all, since they were out of town! Even though they sent us a text reminder about the wine tasting that morning. You can imagine our disappointment.
It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the latest appointment any winery was taking. As we stared at each other in the car with so much disappointment, we realized that we were on the side of the road next to the winery. The light bulb went off, let’s try this place the worst thing that can happen is they tell us NO.
We walked into the Sheridan tasting garden at 4:05 pm without an appointment and they set us up with great wine tasting. As we inquired more about their grapes and wine-making process both the Master Chef and the Wine Maker came over to talk to us and help us learn about their wine-making process.
The winery was established in 1996 by Scott Greer, a self-taught winemaker. All the grapes are planted in the western hillside slopes of the Yakima Valley and mostly consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. In 2001, a bad hailstorm devastated 97% of the crop and from that storm, new red blend was created L’Orage – French for The Storm. It is a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend that can be aged up to 15 years. Another note-worthy creation is Boss Block, drinks like Cabernet Franc from Loire Valley. The color is deep ruby and notes of well-blended black fruit leave a lasting finish.
The tasting room is located in the beautiful garden in Zillah where families with kids and pets are welcome.
Wine Tasting Cost: There is a wine-tasting menu for $10 and wine tasting menu for $20. The fee is waived with a certain amount of purchased wine or if you are a member.
Our favorite wines: We truly enjoyed Boss Block. It is best served if opened a day before drinking and decanted.
Club Membership: There are different levels of membership which include additional savings and 2 shipments per year.
Northstar Winery – Walla Walla
This is definitely not the small production winery that we normally enjoy. Just showing up to the property where the winery is located, we could tell this is not a place we would normally seek out but what made it unique to us is its ‘Blending Experience‘. This is where you get an opportunity to be a winemaker!
TIP: The Northstar property and the views from the property are just stunning!
We had six different barrels of wine to play with four barrels of Merlot from different Columbia Valley AVAs, a barrel of Cab Sauvignon and a barrel of Pettit Verdot. You get an opportunity to taste each one of the barrels and then decide what type of blend you would like to make! When you give an opportunity like this to two engineers things get a little over-analyzed. There was a lot of measuring and re-measuring, tasting and re-tasting, blending, and then re-blending until we got two perfect bottles of wine!
You also get to bottle the wine and make your own labels (what an idea, to give adults that have been drinking an opportunity to express their artwork!). Each bottle must sit bottled for at least a month and no longer than a year, since the corks are not sterilized, and wine is a living thing. Oh yeah, if you would like to know whose bottle of wine was better leave us a comment in about a month and we’ll let you know.
This is a great experience for all wine lovers and very different from what most other wineries offer.
If blending is not your thing, you can pop in for the wine tasting or Mimosas & Brunch and enjoy beautiful views from the patio.
Wine Blending Experience Cost: $100 per person/ $65 for club members
Club Membership: There are different levels of membership which include additional savings and 3 shipments per year.
Sleight Of Hand Cellars – Walla Walla & Seattle
This is the place where love for wine, music and magic comes to flourish. They have two tasting rooms – one in Seattle and one in Walla Walla. We visited the newly renovated tasting room in Walla Walla, sitting in the foothills of Blue Mountain.
On top of the great wine, they have over 2000 vinyl records at the tasting room and occasionally a magician performing tricks and entertaining guests. If this is not unique, I do not know what is. It is a great laid-back hangout spot where you get to enjoy great music and wine.
Wine Tasting Cost: The tasting fee is $20 per person, refundable with a $50 wine purchase.
Our favorite wines:
The Conjurer – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Petit Verdot – has a rich texture with an elegant acid profile. The palate is dominated by plums, black fruit, and earthy elements leading to a long finish.
The Archimage – a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot – medium to full-bodied balanced wine with notes of black fruit and tobacco.
Club membership: There are different levels of membership which include additional savings and 1 to 2 shipments per year.
We’ve had a unique experience at all of these wineries, became members at some of them and can’t wait to go back to others. Life is too short not to enjoy great wine!