Many years ago when I first went “wine-tasting” in the old farming/lumber area of Woodinville, there was a choice of going to Chateau Ste. Michelle, or Columbia Winery…the end. Now, there are over 45 wineries in the area, as well as some really incredible restaurants and inns, which makes Woodinville well worth an overnight. (Since it’s only about a 30 minute drive from Seattle you could easily go for just the afternoon, but trust me- you’ll want to spend a night or two.) Although, I don’t think it can compare with the beauty of Napa or Sonoma, Woodie gets bonus points for having so many good wineries within walking distance of each other, which means you can have more to drink-especially if you are sleeping over!

Here are some of the highlights of my visit:

Sip, Drink.
The stately Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington State’s oldest winery, and is recognized for its award-winning Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling and Cabernet. It was even voted “American Winery of the Year 2004″ by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Stop in for a guided tour, a choice of tastings, and visit the wine shop for unique gifts, or Northwest cheeses and delicacies to pick-up for an impromptu picnic on the beautiful grounds. Check out their website since they often hold special classes, tastings, dinners and outdoor concerts.

Tip:* If you enjoy Rieslings or just want to learn more about this noble grape, then you’ve come to the right place. Chateau Ste. Michelle offers up to eight different Riesling styles designed to showcase the versatility of Riesling and the regional styles within Washington’s Columbia Valley,

which produces more Riesling than any other American wine region
Tip:* You can get double the fun here since it’s also the home of Domaine Ste. Michelle. Don’t miss tasting these wonderfully affordable French style sparkling wines.

Right across the lane you will find Woodie’s newest wine venue, Novelty Hill – Januik, an incredible work of architecture done in cement that intertwines landscape, light, architecture and wine production. Novelty Hill and Januik are two independent artisanal wineries that share a tasting room and production. They also share acclaimed winemaker Mike Januik, known for producing limited quantities of elegant, hand-crafted wines from the state’s finest vineyards.

Novelty Hill – Januik was designed not only to serve as a state-of-the-art winemaking facility but also to offer guests opportunities for hands-on learning through cooking classes, wine appreciation seminars and culinary events held in their demonstration kitchen, intimate dining spaces or outdoor entertainment areas.

If you’re getting a bit sipped out, then head back across the lane for some fun chugging a variety of brewskies at Redhook Ale Brewery. One of the granddaddies of the craft beer revolution in the US, their expansive Woodinville location offers fascinating tours complete with tastings. Or you can just stop in to their Forecasters Pub, attached to the brewery, and put together your own tasting or grab a bite to eat and head out to the deck.