Quick note - Hubby and I spent countless hours reading in the forums. Because of the wealth of information on the forum, I did not have to ask many questions but as always wanted to post a trip report.
Our Seattle / Washington Wine trip was driven by the requirement to stay in the continental US while son was rock climbing and rappelling; Mom had a crazy notion that she should not leave the country while said son was on a mountain! That said, I have always wanted to visit the Seattle area so this became the perfect opportunity. The report is long as we post on several sites and I wanted to be able to use one report for all.
We flew into SEA on a Saturday evening and relatively quickly made our way to the Central Link light rail for a quick and easy trip to downtown Seattle where we had an easy walk to our hotel, the Westin.
The hotel was a typical hotel. It was a great location for us, allowing for an easy walk to most of the places we intended to visit during our quick 2 days in Seattle. We quickly settled into our room in the North tower and then headed out to look around and search for food!
Being foodies, we had spent countless hours trying to narrow our list of restaurants that we wanted to visit down to a manageable level (manageable being defined as lunch, early happy hour, late happy hour, and possibly a snack in between any of above)! We headed for Serious Pie as our first stop. Since it was Sat. we had to put our name on the wait list. The upside was this gave us the opportunity to walk around and get our bearings. We ended up walking by Spur Gastropub which was on the list for later that same evening. However, once hubby looked at the menu, he decided it wasn’t as intriguing as he had anticipated so we crossed it off. Back to Serious Pie for our fist meal. We split the Penn cove clams, house pancetta, chilies, and lemon thyme pizza and hubby had a local beer while I tried the Spire Mountain hard cider. We both loved the pizza and cider. Time to head out and look around some more. We found the Harbour Steps and made our way down them and then to Zig Zag Café for some cocktails. We sat at the bar enjoying our choices and chatting with people around us and the bartenders. On our way back to our last location, we found the infamous “gum wall”. Not our thing but an interesting site to see. We finished up our short first evening with late night happy hour at Leocosho. Hubby had the wonderful espresso rubbed beef short ribs while I had a shredded pork torta that is not showing on the menu but was also quite good. While sitting and enjoying our food, hubby commented how tired he was; when reminded of the 2 hour time difference and our early morning to get son sent off to camp, we decided it was OK to call it a night since we had been up about 22 hours.
Fathers Day Sunday dawned earlier than we would have liked but we embraced it and headed to the first of the coffee shops that we wanted to visit – Fonte. We know that Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks but since we can get that at home, we wanted to visit more local places. Fonte was one that I had stumbled upon in searching the intranet for local Seattle coffee shops. We both enjoyed our coffee choices and shared scone. Since we were attending the Giants – Mariners game later that afternoon, hubby was dressed in his team colors (Giants). This prompted some fun conversations with people coming and going. After coffee, we walked around a little more to kill some time before our tour. We had booked the 10 am Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Tour. This tour was a fun way to explore the market, learn its history, and have some wonderful samples; Pike Place Chowder was the highlight for me. If we lived in Seattle, the market would be a frequent stop for us. After the tour, we decided to stretch our legs and walk to Safeco Field for the baseball game. We made it to our seats with literally minutes to spare. Hubby greatly enjoyed the game – except for the end since the Giants left the bases loaded twice and lost in the 9th. We had a little more leisurely stroll back through Pioneer Square and then up the hills to go by the public library. I am a want-to-be photographer and enjoy architecture and the library had been recommended. After a brief stop at the hotel to change shoes, we caught a cab and went to Luc Restaurant in Capitol Hill for early happy hour. The main bar was full so we were able to be seated at the kitchen bar. What a great experience! Those chefs are amazing. We had so much fun watching them and chatting during the brief lulls they had. Food wise, we enjoyed our meals – hubby had Boeuf Bourguignon and I had Steamed mussels & clams in saffron broth. We shared French fries with harissa aioli and bread & olives. When we left the restaurant, we thought we would walk a little and then grab a cab to the next bar we wanted to check out. We actually ended up walking the entire way, tiring but a great way to see some of Seattle. Our stop at the Knee High Stocking Company was a highlight of the trip. This little bar was very small but the staff was super personable and so much fun. We sat at the bar and had a couple of drinks from the menu while chatting with others. Then we had the bartender make us something special; so much fun to tell him your likes/dislikes and then have a cocktail created just for you. We could have spent more time here but decided to go ahead and head out for more food. Anchovies & Olives was our final stop that evening. Again, we sat at the bar, which was so much fun. We shared a salad (sorry, cannot remember what it contained) and then the Dungeness Crab, Meyer lemon, black pepper and tarragon papparadelle. This pasta was off the charts; this was our favorite meal of the entire trip (and we had already had some great food and would have additional great food). The bartender also had us try the marinated calamari; normally the calamari we get is fried so this was an interesting experience. It was very good but so different than what we are accustomed to. After finishing this amazing meal, we hiked down the hills to our hotel; it was really tempting to stop back in at Knee High but decided that we should probably pass – besides there was always tomorrow…
Monday started off with a little drizzle. Note that we are not in any way complaining. Sunday was dry and sunny so it was actually kind of ‘nice’ to experience “normal” Seattle weather. We made our plan for the day and headed out for coffee at Victrola Coffee House in Capitol Hill. After all the walking the day before, we opted for a cab. Nice coffee house but not our favorite. The plan was then to walk around the Capitol Hill neighborhood for a little while and then stop in at Elysian Brewing so hubby could taste. Unfortunately a good number of shops were closed on Monday. We also realized that Elysian opened later than we thought. So the plans changed and we headed to the monorail to go to the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Seattle Center. This gentleman is an extremely talented artist. We spent about an hour marveling over the exhibit and taking some fun pictures. I am not a good enough photographer (yet) to truly capture the beauty but we have some great reminders of our time here. We highly recommend this for adults; I think I would be petrified to take kids here! Time for food so we headed to Local 360 for lunch. While this place had received mixed reviews, we were intrigued and decided to try it out. I had the mac & cheese while hubby had the chicken & waffle. We split an order of PBJ Bon Bons. Hubby tried another local brew and I had one of their signature cocktails, Woodlands Honey Bee. Food was pretty good and the cocktail great. We headed back to Pike Place Market to pick up a couple of souvenirs and lunch for Tuesday (cheese, bread, and French Macarons). We then headed to Nordstrom Rack for a quick look before taking everything back to the hotel. No luck shopping at Nordstrom but that was OK as the Coach outlet was on the agenda for Tuesday! After dropping things off, we headed back to Elysian for hubby’s tasting. Unfortunately, he did not really like any of their beers. Of course by then, we needed sustenance again so headed off to Elliott’s Oyster House for early happy hour. Hubby enjoyed his oysters and I liked the salmon slider but the hit for both of us was my tequila lime mussels. My goal now is to figure out how to recreate this recipe! After our repast, we wandered along the waterfront and eventually made our way to the ferry so that we could go over to Bainbridge Island. It was a little chilly and wet, but I was able to get a few pics of the Seattle skyline in its grey misty glory. We chose to walk around Bainbridge and take the next ferry back. It is a nice little town that we probably would have explored even more had we the time and / or things been open. The ferry ride back to Seattle was very cold so we opted for no more pics and sitting inside! Once docked, we headed for Le Pichet for another shared meal; Le Pichet was substituted for Spur after seeing the Spur menu up close and personal! We shared the goat cheese wrapped ham appetizer and a lamb meatball main course. This was a great little bistro with tasty food. The only negative was that the tables were shared and very close to each other. It made it impossible to have private dinner. After dinner, we headed to Pike Brewing. Hubby had been seeing signs for their Kilt Lifter and just had to try. This was his favorite local beer that he had tasted so far. Since it was later, we skipped returning to Knee High but it was a hard decision not to go back for a second visit.
Tuesday dawned rainy. No worries for us as we were picking up the rental car and heading south to Yakima to start the wine tasting part of our journey. We stopped to get coffee at Trabant Coffee in Pioneer Square. This was our favorite of the coffee shops we tried; our only complaint was the cup was much too small after we got back to the car and had our first taste! We headed out of Seattle with minimal issues and headed towards Yakima after a brief stop at the North Bend outlet mall. The primary stop had been the Coach outlet but seeing the Under Armour store and having a teen athlete required a second stop there. Luckily, hubby was able to scout all of the great options while I was agonizing over which purse(s) to buy! We were really amazed after leaving the mountains near Seattle to see desert like conditions as we made our way south. Obviously we need a better geography lesson as the area is truly high desert. We made several tasting stops once in the Yakima area: Eaton Hill Winery and Cultura by appointments we had set prior to arriving. Then we went on to Portteus, Two Mountain, and Severino. Two Mountain and Severino had not been on the original list but were recommended by Cultura and Porrteus. Cultura was our favorite winery; we were not able to meet Sarah but had a great afternoon with Tad. Since he knew we liked his wines, he tried to talk us into the wine club. I was all for it but hubby thought that we should not join yet another wine club (I know, like you can ever be in too many wine clubs!). We stayed at Birchfield Manor Inn in Yakima that night. It was a nice B&B but just that – nice. We could have eaten at the B&B but decided to try someplace in town. Based on recommendations at a couple of the wine tastings, we went to Creekside West. Hubby had a New York steak that was roasted garlic peppercorn rubbed with a horseradish demi-glaze while I had a salmon and asparagus pasta. Both meals were very good but the service was extremely slow. We drove around downtown Yakima after finishing dinner before heading back to the B&B. We walked the grounds and settled in for a little earlier night!
Wednesday started with a decent breakfast at the B&B. After finishing up and checking out, we headed out for a cider tasting before leaving the Yakima area. Tieton Cidery was a great way to start our Wednesday. Korel gave us a tour and we tasted all of their products. Remember the nay on the Cultura wine club by hubby, it seems that if it is a cider club, that might be a different story as he perked right up after hearing about that one! After our tasting, we headed back up to a little suburb east of Seattle – Bothell and Woodinville. There were a few stops along the way to get pics – primarily of Mount Rainer, but also of the overall scenery. With only one wrong turn (thank you Google Maps), we arrived at our next B&B, Eason Estates. Shaun checked us in and let us store our wines bought so far in his cellar since it was quite warm outside. After being shown around the property and getting some advise for wine tastings and meals, we headed out to start our adventure. We had a late lunch at The Purple Café in Woodinville sharing a couple of their spreads, Kalamata tapenade and Feta walnut spread, a crab cake slider, and the risotto of the day. The slider and risotto were both excellent; I did not care for either spread but hubby enjoyed the Kalamata tapenade. Again, we had less than great service with our server asking if we wanted something and then forgetting to bring it to us. We started our afternoon tasting at Brian Carter. There was another small group in tasting that was part way through; they were fun but it did result in the server being a little distracted with us focusing on them. Luckily, the wines were good and we had fun tasting and chatting with others in the tasting room. We then headed out to Goose Ridge. We enjoyed our stop here; this was one of the few wineries where we liked everything that we tasted. We took a little break and tried to get a little better lay of the land in the area. It was after 5 so many of the tasting rooms were closed for the day. We did stop in at Village Wines – mainly to see if they had wines open from one of the wineries that we were not able to schedule a tasting at. Unfortunately, they did not but we tried another Spire Mountain Cider (Dark & Dry) which is a new favorite for both of us. We headed out to our last tasting stop of the day – Tefft. It was an OK choice but defnitily not the wow we were hoping to end our day with. To end our night, we had dinner at Preservation Kitchen. Hubby and I split the arugula salad. He had the caramelized short ribs appetizer and I had the steamed mussels. Having had lots of wine, we tried a couple of vodka cocktails made with a local vodka, Soft Tail Vodka - all very tasty. We actually decided to try a dessert and had the most amazing chocolate torte. This was a great little restaurant and we ended up being late enough for dinner that we had one of the rooms almost entirely to ourselves.
Thursday, we started off with a wonderful breakfast at the B&B. Shaun checked on our outings from the day before and our plans for Thursday. He is such an amazing host and a wealth of knowledge about the area and wine tasting rooms. Since it was a little early for the tastings to begin, we walked over the small Main Street of Bothell and then back along a trail. This is a very quaint little area. We then drove around to find the Warehouse District as we were planning on participating in the Third Thursday Wine Walk that evening. Our tastings started at Forecasters Public House so hubby could taste some of the Red Hook beers. They didn’t top his favorite Kilt Lifter but were all quite tasty. I took the opportunity to get a different photo Mt. Rainier and the clouds. Next stop was Woodinville Whiskey for another tasting for hubby (So is anyone else seeing a trend here – I drive, he tastes. Hmmm….). While good, he has others that he likes better so we were off. Since it was now lunch time, we headed to the Barking Frog for lunch. I had the Grand Marnier Prawns and a mixed green salad while hubby had the Barking Frog Grilled Chicken Club with garlic fries. Hubby laughed at me as I took a pic of my prawns. While I love photography, I have not got into the trend of snapping pics of all of my food; maybe I just don’t want to admit I truly do eat that much! This was definitely in my top 5 meals on this trip. We walked around the grounds of the Willows Lodge after lunch so I could take a few more pics. Gardens, flowers, and nature are among the things I like to photograph best – and of course there are those amazing dragon fly sculptures! We were now fortified and ready for both of us to start tasting. We were off to J Bookwalter for our first wine of the day. We really enjoyed these wines and were thrilled to find out that the winemaker would be in later that afternoon. We purchased our wine and had it set aside to be signed later. Off to Mark Ryan for tasting where with many award wining wines, our hardest decisions was which ones (yes, notice the plural) would be coming home with us. Our next tasting was at Alexandria Nicole. While the wines were OK and the tasting room under the old schoolhouse was very cool, we were again faced with a bigger crowd and the server being somewhat distracted so did not feel like we got the full experience. We popped back over to J Bookwalter to meet the winemaker and pick up our signed wine. He was a great guy whose Great-Grandfather is from our home state; what a small world! Our last stop in this are was Amavi / Pepper Bridge. This was one of our least favorites so we did not linger long. We headed back to the warehouse district to join the Wine Walk. This had been recommended to us by one of the wine tasting rooms when I had checked on a private tasting since they were not normally open when we were going to be there. For $20, you get wine tickets and a list of the tasting rooms that are open. You are welcome to stop at as many as you would like and taste from their selection. A fun concept but most offered only one or two of their wines for tasting with the tickets. We made the rounds and went back to the few that we really liked to make our purchases. There were quite a few that we did not care for so that made our choices quite a bit easier - a good thing as we were starting to run out of space in our cases! Dinner that night was at Russell’s Dining Room. Hubby had the Gorgonzola & Walnut Ravioli and I had Sea Scallops with a Beurre Blanc sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. Again, a decent meal but not over the top and service was just OK. We then headed back to the B&B for another earlier night.
Our last day was actually just a short ½ day before heading to the airport. We started off with another great breakfast from Beth at the B&B. She is definitely a very talented chef and so sweet. We then packed up our wine cases and got them ready to be our checked luggage. We had two tastings scheduled and room for 3 bottles. We thought both tastings were right next to each other but after sitting waiting about 10 minutes for the first, we called and he was at another location. With a quick call to the second tasting room, we were able to move up that tasting and stop by the other one on our way out of town. We absolutely fell in love with Steve and Mary at Elevation Cellars. They are such a great couple and Steve makes lots of wonderful wines. We enjoyed our tastings and after much agony settled on two bottles to take home – remember, we only have three spots left open in our cases. Off to the other tasting room where we had to rush through our tasting. It would have been nice had we not be running behind but overall another great winery and it was easy to fill our last spot. It was quite the chore to get back to the airport. I had no idea that traffic would be that crazy early afternoon on a June Friday! We dropped off the rental car, caught the shuttle bus to the airport, and managed to get checked in with the wine safely checked as our luggage before rushing off to catch our flight. We made it to our seats with about 5 minutes to spare before they closed the plane doors!
Overall, a big thumbs up to the area.
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