Exploring Woodinville Wine Country



By Kori ~ October 4th, 2010.

Woodinville has definitely become a must-visit destination in Washington wine country. Home of the state’s oldest, largest, and most well-known wineries, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery, the Woodinville area is also home to over 90 wineries and tasting rooms, with new ones opening all the time. Woodinville now boasts the second largest concentration of Washington wineries after Walla Walla and is located just 17 miles northeast of Seattle. Today, Woodinville is one of the Seattle area’s top tourist attractions, with at least 18 tasting rooms open daily and upwards of 70 open on the weekend. I am not aware of another place in the U.S. where there are this many fine wineries so close to a major city.

Due to its close proximity to Seattle, we have visited Woodinville several times in the last month or so. We focused our visits predominately on wineries whose current Woodinville tasting rooms we had not previously visited; although, in many cases, we have tasted their wines at one time or another. In addition to these visits, we also recently had an extended visit and interview with Rod and Leslie Balsley at William Church Winery and attended the Woodinville Wine Country “Taste for the Trade” event in Seattle. We capped off our most recent visit to Woodinville as guests of Chateau Ste. Michelle for a fabulous Harry Connick, Jr. concert that was a part of their Summer Concert Series.

If you haven’t made a Woodinville wine tasting trip yet, I highly encourage you to do so whether you live in Seattle and are looking for a fun afternoon outing or you are vacationing in the area. (Click here for our updated .pdf list of Woodinville wineries/tasting rooms including website, address, phone, and hours.)

Obviously with over 90 wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville today, it is impossible to visit them all in an afternoon or even a long weekend. However, there are several areas with concentrations of wineries/tasting rooms within Woodinville that makes it easy to focus your visits on different areas. You may want to visit the warehouse district one day, the Hollywood Schoolhouse area another day, and the stand-alones (Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia, Novelty Hill/Januik, etc.) another day. No matter where in Woodinville you are going, if you do not like crowds and would rather avoid the limos carrying bachelorette partygoers, you might want to visit on a day other than Saturday.

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted during our recent visits to Woodinville. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Hollywood Hill Vineyards Mourvedre, Horse Heaven Hills, $34, QPR: 5
2008 Obelisco Estate Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $60, QPR: 5
2007 Mark Ryan Lonely Heart Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $75, QPR: 5

2008 Gorman Winery The Evil Twin Syrah/Cab, Red Mountain, $60, QPR: 4
2007 Gorman Winery The Albatross Cab/Petit Verdot, Red Mountain, $80, QPR: 3

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2006 Robert Ramsay Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $20, QPR: 5
2008 Alexandria Nicole Quarry Butte (Cab-based blend), Horse Heaven Hills, $20, QPR: 5
2009 Gorman Winery Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $25 [375ml], QPR: 5
2008 Obelisco Estate Tejen Merlot, Red Mountain, $30, QPR: 5
2006 Ross Andrew Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 5
2007 Robert Ramsay Upland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Snipes Mountain, $38, QPR: 5
2007 Gorman Winery The Bully Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $42, QPR: 5

2007 Ross Andrew Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2006 Chatter Creek Clifton Hill Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $28, QPR: 4
2007 Pepper Bridge Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $50, QPR: 4
2008 Alexandria Nicole Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills, $38, QPR: 3
2008 JM Cellars Longevity (Bordeaux-style blend), Columbia Valley, $38, QPR: 3
2007 Baer Winery Arctos (Cab-based blend), Columbia Valley, $41, QPR: 3
2008 Gorman Winery The Pixie Syrah, Red Mountain, $42, QPR: 3
2007 Robert Ramsay Mourvedre, Horse Heaven Hills, $42, QPR: 3
2008 Mark Ryan Wild Eyed Syrah, Red Mountain, $45, QPR: 3
2008 Mark Ryan Viognier, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2008 Mark Ryan Crazy Mary Mourvedre, Red Mountain, $45, QPR: 2

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Alexandria Nicole Steel Horse Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills, $14, QPR: 4
2009 Baer Winery Shard (unoaked Chardonnay), Columbia Valley, $21, QPR: 4
2008 Tempest Sol Syrah, Yakima Valley, $21, QPR: 4
2006 Chatter Creek Lonesome Spring Ranch Syrah, Yakima Valley, $22, QPR: 4
2008 Alexandria Nicole Gravity Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $24, QPR: 4
2007 Alexandria Nicole Jet Black Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25, QPR: 4
2008 JM Cellars Merlot, Red Mountain, $35, QPR: 4
2009 Flying Dreams Little Red Rosé, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: 3
2008 Gecko Malbec, Wahluke Slope, $20, QPR: 3
2008 Mark Ryan Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 3
2007 Amavi Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 3
2008 Obelisco Estate Tejen Syrah, Red Mountain, $30, QPR: 3
2008 Obelisco Estate Tejen Red Blend, Red Mountain, $30, QPR: 3
2008 Mark Ryan The Dissident Red, Columbia Valley, $32, QPR: 3
2007 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $55, QPR: 3
2006 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $55, QPR: 3
2009 Alexandria Nicole Crawford Viognier, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 2
2009 Alexandria Nicole Shepherds Mark (Rouss/Marsanne/Viog), Horse Heaven Hills, $20, QPR: 2
2007 Michael Florentino Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2008 Obelisco Estate Tejen Malbec, Red Mountain, $30, QPR: 2
2008 Hollywood Hill Vineyards Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills, $30, QPR: 2
2007 Baer Winery Ursa (Merlot-based blend), Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 2
2009 Gorman Winery The Big Sissy Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 2
2006 JM Cellars Columbia Valley Cuvee (Bordeaux-style blend), Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 2
2007 Robert Ramsay Boushey Vineyards Syrah, Yakima Valley, $38, QPR: 2
2007 Alexandria Nicole Duck Press Red, Horse Heaven Hills, $38, QPR: 2
2008 Alexandria Nicole Members Only (Rhone-style blend), Horse Heaven Hills, $42, QPR: 1
2007 JM Cellars Nietos (Red blend), Columbia Valley, $55, QPR: 1

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Tempest Sol Rosé (Merlot), Columbia Valley, $15, QPR: 4
2007 Gecko Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $17, QPR: 4
2008 Mark Ryan The Vincent Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 4
2007 Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2009 Convergence Zone Riesling, Yakima Valley, $15, QPR: 3
2003 JM Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, $22, QPR: 3
2008 Tempest Sol Dusk (Merlot/Syrah), Yakima Valley, $24, QPR: 3
2006 Ross Andrew Syrah-Cabernet Blend, Columbia Valley, $25, QPR: 3
2009 Gecko Cellars Rosé, Columbia Valley, $15, QPR: 2
2009 Ross Andrew Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge, $18, QPR: 2
2007 Chatter Creek Viognier, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: 2
2008 Chatter Creek Grenache, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: 2
2008 Chatter Creek Orange Muscat, Lonesome Spring Ranch, Yakima Valley, $18, QPR: 2
2008 Gorman Winery Zachary’s Ladder Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2009 Flying Dreams Coquette Sauvignon Blanc, Spring Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 1
2009 JM Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Ross Andrew Meadow (Pinot Blanc basically), Willamette Valley (OR), $16, QPR: NR
2009 Tempest Sol Riesling, Yakima Valley, $17, QPR: NR
2007 Michael Florentino Merlot, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: NR
2009 Lion’s Oak Sauvignon Blanc, Red Mountain, $20, QPR: NR


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Moscato/Muscat, Mourvedre, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Riesling, Rose Wine, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Sauvignon Blanc #3 « collegeandwine | March 4th, 2011 at 7:32 am

    [...] Ste. Michelle is a Washington State winery located 15 miles Northeast of Seattle. It is Washington’s oldest and most acclaimed winery. [...]

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