Many consider Walla Walla to be the Napa of Washington State. In terms of wine quality, I believe that is a true statement. In fact, when you consider quality and value, Walla Walla actually holds an advantage over Napa. Unfortunately, Walla Walla does not have a long-standing reputation or geography on its side. Walla Walla is located in southeastern Washington, just miles from the Washington-Oregon state line. It is 275 miles (a 4.5 to 5 hour drive) from Seattle and 180 miles (a 3 to 3.5 hour drive) from Spokane. Nevertheless, it is a must-visit for wine lovers.
With its historic, pedestrian-friendly downtown and gorgeous views of the Blue Mountains, Walla Walla is a quaint wine country destination. The Walla Walla Valley boasts over 1,600 acres of vineyards and is home to approximately 90 wineries. There are many wonderful wineries to visit in the area, but five of my favorites that produce excellent wines and provide good tasting room experiences are, in alphabetical order: Basel Cellars, Cougar Crest Winery, Dunham Cellars, Saviah Cellars, and Watermill Winery. If you don’t mind crowds, a great time to visit is during one of Walla Walla’s two annual wine events when virtually all of the wineries are open. Spring Release Weekend is always the first full weekend in May, and Holiday Barrel Tasting is always the first full weekend in December.
Best known for its wine and sweet onions, Walla Walla also has a number of cultural and historical attractions including the Fort Walla Walla Museum and the Whitman Mission.
If You Go:
Seattle/Tacoma is the closest major airport and offers connecting flights to Walla Walla on Horizon Air (the regional airline of Alaska Airlines).
Lodging: For luxurious accommodations in a historic hotel, stay at The Marcus Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla. For budget-conscious travelers, stay at The Best Western Walla Walla Suites Inn also located in downtown Walla Walla. There are a number of other options in Walla Walla to consider as well.
Wineries and tasting rooms to visit:
Basel Cellars, 2901 Old Milton Hwy, Walla Walla, WA, 1-888-259-9463, open daily 10am-4pm, $5 tasting fee (refundable with purchase). For directions, click here.
Cougar Crest Winery, 50 Frenchtown Rd (off Highway 12), Walla Walla, WA, 509-529-5980, open daily 10am-5pm, $5 tasting fee (refundable with purchase). For a location map, click here.
Dunham Cellars, 150 E. Boeing Ave, Walla Walla, WA, 509-529-4685, open daily 11am-4pm, $5 tasting fee (refundable with purchase). For directions, click here.
Saviah Cellars, 1979 JB George Rd, Walla Walla, WA, 509-520-5166, open Tues-Sun: 11am-5pm, No tasting fee. For directions, click here.
Watermill Winery, 235 East Broadway, Milton-Freewater, OR, 541-938-5575, open Mon-Sat: 11am-4pm, No tasting fee. Located just across the Washington-Oregon state line, only 10 miles from downtown Walla Walla. For directions, click here.