Bienvenue to Seattle! The lovely waterfront setting reminds me of Vancouver and the steep hills are similar to those in San Francisco.
Pike’s Place market in downtown Seattle is 105 years old and the longest operating market in the US. There is a complete sustainable partnership between the hotels, restaurants and markets to serve the freshest, organic fruits and vegetables possible.
Seattle is awash in caffeine and has the greatest concentration of coffeehouses in the country, with lots of atmosphere, interesting décor and is reminiscent of the best ones in Vienna and Lisbon. After all, Starbucks started here in Pike Place Market in 1971.
I was so impressed with the city’s bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, local meats, and top-notch wines. Washington is the nation’s second largest wine producer after California and is among the world’s top wine regions.
If you’re looking to experience Washington wines, a day trip to Seattle’s eastern suburbs is all it takes, with nearly two dozen wineries in Woodinville. We had a great wine and food pairing at the Chateau Ste. Michelle’s beautiful 87-acre property. It was previously the private estate of a lumber baron in the early 1900s.
Surprisingly, while there are many wineries in the western side of the state, the grapes are grown in the eastern Columbia Valley and brought in by truck. The eastern half of the state is semi-arid, receiving 6-8 inches of rainfall annually, most of it falling during vine dormancy. Rain is rare during the growing season, especially at the critical moments of flowering, fruit set and harvest.
Water is supplied by drip irrigation, drawn from the vast reserves of the Columbia, Yakima and Snake Rivers. Irrigation timing and amounts are controlled, rather than being left to the whims of nature, thus producing a consistently high quality grape.
Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle pioneered vinifera grape growing in Washington and has been producing classic varietal wines since 1967. The winery combines research with a commitment to classic winemaking traditions. The winery owns 3,500 acres of vineyards in the Columbia Valley of eastern Washington.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the premium wineries in the world with two state-of-the-art wine facilities devoted to whites and to reds. It has been producing European varietal wines for years and is best known for the award-winning Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dr. Konstantin Frank ignited the “Vinifera Revolution,” a movement that changed the course of winegrowing in the United States. A European immigrant from the Ukraine, Dr. Frank arrived in the United States in 1951. He successfully grafted thousands of vines that now produce excellent wines today. His grandson owns the original winery, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
A popular alternative when limited on time or when choosing to avoid driving from winery to winery is the vastly popular URBAN enoteca –a unique wine venue in Seattle, where many wineries’ own tasting booths are in an upscale warehouse setting. It’s a wonderful concept and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
After touring wineries, take a scenic ferry ride to Bainbridge Island from downtown Seattle for $5, round trip. It’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon and enjoy a delicious lunch paired with a local wine at one of the many outdoor cafes.
Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to this charming island community. Bainbridge Island blends its Pacific Northwest heritage with a casual, artistic town with many art galleries and shops. The town center is only a five-minute walk from the ferry terminal.
SEATTLE HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle – one block from the excellent Art Museum and a five-minute walk to the fascinating Pikes Place Market. Don’t miss the hotel’s excellent wine bar and delicious food at the Boka restaurant.
Willows Lodge – located in a rustic setting on the outskirts of Seattle. Approaching the Willows, you feel an aura of comfort and welcome. Ruthie, the pet dog sleeps in the lobby and manages to personally greet all guests. Soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi and savor an incredible glass of local wine by the cozy fireplace with Ruthie at your feet. The lodge is a lovely blend of rustic and contemporary with oriental 5-acre gardens.
Herbfarm restaurant –affiliated with Willows Lodge and serves an excellent 9-course meal with 6 matched wines. Each day’s menu is finalized only hours before the meal to best represent the freshest ingredients. Every dish features local foods at the peak of their season, richly enhanced with herbs and paired with wine.
Woodmark on the Lake –a scenic lodge with breathtaking views of Lake Washington; the hotel sightseeing boat will take guests for free tours on the lake. Get a peek at the lakeside home of Bill Gates. Look for Woody, the friendly dog that greets visitors and wanders the lobby at all hours. This seems to be a welcome tradition in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy a marvelous dinner at their bin on the lake restaurant. Watch for yachts, seals, sea lions, otters and bald eagles along the waterfront.