Washington State is becoming well-known for its wines all over the world, especially those from the Walla Walla Valley and the Columbia Valley. One area that you may not be familiar with if you live outside of Washington is Lake Chelan. It is a very popular summer destination with many activities available on its beautiful lake nestled amongst rolling hills. And now wineries in the Lake Chelan Valley (not an official appellation yet) are beginning to garner some attention as well.
Chelan is located in North Central Washington roughly halfway between Seattle and Spokane. It is approximately 185 miles east of Seattle and 150 miles west of Spokane, which makes it about a 3 to 3 ½ hour drive from each.
If you are looking for an ideal summer destination where you can do it all, have fun in the sun, play golf, enjoy water sports, and visit some excellent wineries in a gorgeous setting, Chelan is the place for you. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can spend one or two days visiting wineries. If you only have one day, I recommend focusing on the wineries located on the south shore of Lake Chelan. If you have more time, you can then venture up to the north shore and the town of Manson.
There are currently about 15 wineries in the Lake Chelan Valley area. Several on the south shore that I encourage you to visit are Chelan Estate Winery, Nefarious Cellars, and Tsillan Cellars.
Chelan Estate Winery is a relatively new winery owned by Bob Broderick and Rich Nestor. Chelan Estate produces about 2,200 cases per year.
Nefarious Cellars has a gorgeous setting for their 2,000 case per year operation overlooking Lake Chelan. The owners, Dean and Heather Neff, are third generation farmers, who still own an orchard operation. Their agricultural experience is paying off in their winery.
The beautiful Tuscan-style winery, Tsillan Cellars, has been in operation since 2000 on a slope overlooking Lake Chelan. Tsillan is owned by dentist/inventor Bob Jankleson and produces about 8,000 cases per year. Tsillan Cellars also features a Summer Concert Series.
If You Go:
Seattle/Tacoma is the closest major airport. Chelan is approximately 185 miles east of Seattle. From Seattle, take I-90 East (Snoqualmie Pass). Take exit 85 for WA-970 N toward WA-903 N/Wenatchee. Turn left onto WA-970 E, proceed 35 miles over Blewett Pass to Hwy 2, turn right, then approximately 15 miles to Wenatchee. Take Hwy 97A north approximately 35 miles to Chelan.
Wineries and tasting rooms to visit:
Chelan Estate Winery, 755 S Lakeshore Rd, Chelan, WA, 509-682-5454, open Sat-Sun: 11am-6pm and open other days certain times of the year (call ahead for weekday hours or to make an appointment), $4 tasting fee refundable with purchase. Directions from Chelan: Head west on Hwy 97A for 4 miles. Slight right onto S Lakeshore Rd. Turn left at the winery sign.
Nefarious Cellars, 495 S Lakeshore Rd, Chelan, WA, 509-682-9505, open 11am-6pm daily in the summer and open Sat-Sun: 12pm-5pm in the fall, winter (closed January), and spring, No tasting fee. Directions from Chelan: Head west on Hwy 97A for 4 miles. Slight right onto S Lakeshore Rd. Nefarious is on the left up the hill.
Tsillan Cellars, 3875 Highway 97A, Chelan, WA, 509-682-9463, open 11am-7pm daily in the summer (call for off-season hours), $5 tasting fee. Directions from Chelan: Head west on Hwy 97A for 3.5 miles. Tsillan is on the left up the hill.
Other things to do in the area: There are many outdoor activities available including water sports, golfing, and fishing.