Seattle Travel Guide

Seattle’s Wine Country Is Where Grownups Go to Party

PHOTO: Patterson Cellars

Vegas is corny. Napa is stuffy. Lighten up and party down like an adult with a perfect weekend itinerary for Woodinville, Washington.

Being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you have to vacation a certain way. It just means you need or want to pad pursuits with self-serving activities (think: mid-afternoon naps, stress-busting yoga or spa treatments, evening revelries that end before midnight). The last place you want to go is where the vibe advertises eternal youth (Vegas’ “Sin City”) or matures you beyond your years (Napa’s “The Wine Is Bottled Poetry”). How about we reward this life stage beyond adolescence? Let’s reclaim adulting as the greatest time of our lives by working with, instead of against, our rapidly deteriorating bodies. Let’s be grownups–and have a great time doing it. Woodinville Wine Country in Washington State is making a name for itself catering to the youthful whims of fully grown humans–ones who aren’t looking to hit the foam party at Señor Frogs, but don’t want to take the retiree cruise to bingo town, either.

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Pick your poison. Being a adult means you have options.
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It’s wine country in Woodinville, but the drink options are limitless. Being an adult means trying new things. Rachael Levitt

 

Just 30 minutes outside of Seattle, Woodinville Wine Country is easily accessible from SEA or the Emerald City itself–even by bicycle if you’re sporty, but otherwise an easy drive. Welcome to Disneyland for the post-college not-yet-deads: this is a 21st century grownup getaway, fueled by a variety of high-quality alcohol; sumptuous gourmet foodie fare (conscientiously curated with local, seasonal, and sustainable goals in mind); and most importantly, an easygoing host of a town where hospitality and sincerity seem almost interchangeable. The locals will model the way to enjoy Woodinville for you because they clearly live that forever young lifestyle in their own adult-playground home.

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1. Enjoy grown up activites at Estefe Winery.    2. Leory Radford of Woodinville Cider Works demonstrates how to adult.     Estefe Winery Rachael Levitt

But if you want a jump start on your Adulting Vacation, here’s a Fodor’s tested itinerary to guide your way.

DAY1

Happy Hour(s)

If you’re coming in from Seattle, you’ll want to dump your bags and get started. Hop on a bicycle and hit the Sammamish River Trail for stunning Washington scenery and forward momentum toward a well-deserved adult beverage. Along the way, you must stop by Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville’s bellwether winery, and for good reason–the state’s oldest winery sits on 105 wooded acres and offers a bevy of activities unmatched by tasting rooms around the region including outdoor concerts, estate tours, blending opportunities, and even a pop-up mimosa bar. Get your happy hour started with a flight in the tasting room and nibble some Pacific Northwest staples or pair with traditional cheese and charcuterie combinations. Once you finish your flight, buy a bottle for the trail. Breathe it all in as you glide past the pines—the air doesn’t get any fresher than this.

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The Sammamish Trail in winter
Winter, spring, summer, and fall—Woodinville, Washington offers a gorgeous backdrop to your funsies.    Anna Walter; Nadia Boresevich; Jeff Youngstrom 

 

Head back to town and clean up at your digs—if you’re staying at the Willows Lodge, you’ll have an easier time getting to dinner at The Barking Frog just across the way. But the walkable commute doesn’t mean you should skip your glam garb—this restaurant is serving a feast for your senses, and you’ll want to match the decor. Grab a seat around the fire pit and make friends, or tuck away in a romantic corner and get ready to gorge.

A glass of wine + a seat around the firepit = new friends. Barking Frog

INSIDER TIP“Glam garb” should be clothing that makes you feel polished but not uncomfortable–anything from a caftan to cashmere joggers–there’s no judgment here, only an admiring public.

Floating away on the Frog’s delicacies–a signature cocktail, a seasonal menu, and of course, plenty of wine–make your way back to your digs for the night. A nightcap at The Fireside Longue (the Willow’s cozy bar) or back in your room with that fresh SCM bottle should float you right off to dreamland. Need more time to digest? Huddle by your fireplace or take a dip in the hot tub. You’re an adult and you’ve got a big weekend ahead of you–no need to get too deep into anything tonight. Just relax.

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Relaxation Pool
The Willows Lodge is cozy AF. Willows Lodge

 

DAY2

Stay Hydrated, (Adult) Baby

Wake up at the same time you do every single day of your life because you are an adult, baby. First things first: get hydrated and stay hydrated because you are staring down the barrel of a fun-filled, alcohol-fueled, fully-earned vacay day and you are going to Live! It! Up! Grab a coffee and a light pastry for breakfast and then head off to JM Cellars for a tour and tasting at the remarkable property. You’ll want to be there when the doors open for two reasons: 1. To imbibe “Breakfast Wine,” as the first glass is informally known and 2. To delight in witnessing all the other adults ready to get their morning vino in. These are your people. The ones who refused to be defined by age–let’s leave that to the wine. Grab a glass for a hike through the property, a delightful hillside complete with Japanese maples, babbling creek, Hobbit house, and plenty of rustic-chic places to beverage-and-chill. Have another glass of breakfast wine. It’s the most important meal of the day.

Let John pour you a breakfast wine (or two).
Try everything at Patterson Cellars.
Let owner John Bigelow pour you a breakfast wine (or two) at JM Cellars. Then have lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert wines at Patterson Cellars.  JM Cellars, Patterson Cellars

 

Fueled up on caffeine and “exercise.” not to mention a slight buzz, it’s probably time to get serious. And nothing says Business like a factory space, so make your way to Woodinville’s Warehouse District, where modern-minimalist tasting rooms are waiting to serve. The district boasts itself as “home of more boutique wineries per square foot than any wine region in the world” but mature grownups such as yourself might hear, “No need to drive! Just walk around and drink, drank, drunk.” A few of our favorite tasting rooms include Patterson Cellars (winemaker John Patterson is basically a local celeb), Pondera Winery & Art Gallery (bonus classy adult points for culture), and EFESTĒ (where owners Daniel and Helen Ferrenlli will make you feel like you’re at a Sunday afternoon at Nonna’s).

Learning things while you drink is the best way to learn things.
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Wander the Warehouse District (glass in hand) to witness the making of your adult bev.   Rachael Levitt

 

If you aren’t buzzed yet, TRY HARDER. For the rest of us, it’s time for lunch and a pivot from grape juice. Settle in at the PicNic Table, which is exactly what it seems, but with the adult twist of utensils and chairs, plus gourmet foodie-style fare, before making your way to a tasting at JP Trodden Whiskey downstairs, or Woodinville Cider Works (currently rebranding itself as Winsome Ciderworks) for a palette cleanser. Once your buzz is firmly reestablished, it’s time for a nap, because you are sophisticated AND sleepy. Head back to your hotel for a time-out.

Wake up ravenous because you have been drinking all day, but savor that as the responsible adult you are, you are able to satisfy your craving in a nutritious (results may vary) and ethically-sourced restaurant owned by locals. Heritage Restaurant|Bar is upscale without being stuffy, trendy yet cozy, and best of all, delicious. Chef/owner Breanna “Bre” Beike has made the place so warm and inviting that you’re bound to run into the local vintners and bartenders from earlier in the day having their post-shift drink or a meal at the bar. Don’t skimp on drinks and certainly don’t miss dessert. Stumble back to your hotel with a full belly and a happy heart (and a significant buzz). Don’t forget to drink water before you go to sleep!

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Who says drunk food can’t be gourmet?   Heritage Restaurant|Bar

 

DAY3

May We Never Be Out of Spirits

If you wake up feeling slightly like you might die, that’s because you’re really leaning into the Woodinville lifestyle. Start your day with some ibuprofen and a spa treatment. Don your largest sunnies and order a giant coffee and hangover brunch at The Commons before getting on with your grown-up getaway. Snap back into sophistication at the stunning Novelty Hill Januik winery, where you can even attempt to use your brain and learn about the wine-making process. Otherwise, admire how pretty the grounds and architecture are, or just chat with whoever’s at the bar–as stylish as this winery is, you’re just as welcome in a Seahawks jersey as in your chunky wedges. All while sampling and tasting of course—always swirling, smelling, swishing, and sipping.

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1.Be drunk AND sophisticated at Novelty Hill Januik 2. Grab a beer and pet a pup at Triplehorn Brewery.  Novelty Hill Januik; Triplehorn Brewery

 

If it’s time to sober up again, you do have options. Take a farm tour at Off the Branch Farm and buy your various apple needs, shop for hand-crafted souvenirs at Woodinville Farmers Market, or pick up some culinary-inspired gourmet chocolates at Jcoco Chocolate (face the fact that anything you are bringing home from Woodinville will be for consumption). Or, if you’re wined-out but want to keep the good times flowing, try the food trucks and homebrews at Triplehorn Brewery or the nibbles and craft beers at 20 Corners Brewing.

WHERE TO STAY

 

If you want to do Woodinville right, you can’t go wrong at Willows Lodge, with its classic Pacific Northwest vibe and modern amenities: in-suite fireplaces and Jacuzzi-style tubs, full spa, and a cozy lounge. It’s a drunken stumble from most places you’ll want to go, and has enough beauty and charm to leave you feeling guilt-free if you have to spend a morning hungover in bed. There’s also a Hampton Inn in town, in case you want an excuse to get out of your hotel room as much as possible.

WHEN TO GO

Spring or fall for that seasonal thrill, or summer for the more guaranteed sunshine–this is Seattle region, after all, so rain could come at any time. Fall has the exciting added bonus of Crush, the winery’s harvest season, which brings festivity to your freshly poured drink.