NFR Wine- Wa or CA

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Charles Sullivan, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. Charles- I go yearly to WW for wine tastings and if you've never been and like wine it's a no-brainer... GO. Given you mention it is your anniversary I'm going to assume you want a nice place to take the wife too!

    Easy choice for lodging is Marcus Whitman hotel. Nice digs, your wife will love it and you can end your day in town walking so don't need to worry about drinking/driving as there are lots of tasting rooms in town now. (Abeja lodging mentioned is great but requires a drive.) If you want to save money for more wine La Quinta and Best Western as mentioned are solid.

    For eating the top two choices that come to mind are Saffron and Whitehouse Crawford. Both are worthy of anniversary type dinners. There are certainly other places as well, and for breakfast Bacon&Eggs on Main St. is great. For late night drinks and truffle fries, go to Public House 124.

    People there are very friendly and I'd be surprised if you go and don't start talking about when you'll return...
    Kent Lufkin, Grayone and David Dalan like this.
  2. I agree with Dave's info on motels near Main Street. The Marcus Whitman is more expensive, but its a historic hotel that has been renovated and it's a different experience than staying at the Best Western. A recently renovated historic building with four condo type units on Main Street is
    Whiteside Building Condos - . Again, more expensive, but right on Main Street and they are beautiful digs.

    The link Dave gave for wine tours is a good one and the owners of Dream Ride are nice people and have a good reputation.

    If you stay at the Best Western or La Quinta on Second Avenue, the Mexican restaurant across the street, El Sombrero, is good. Other excellent downtown restaurants are Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen (, brasserie four (, and T. Maccarone's ( The Marcus Whitman Hotel also has a formal dining room, The Marc, that serves a good meal (dinner only) in a nice setting.

    I am biased about Walla Walla wines, but I like wine and really think Walla Walla wineries are the best the NW has to offer. Not every one of the 120+ wineries is great, and there are a couple I don't enjoy, but the overall quality of the wine here is better than other places in the NW. A lot of the fruit comes from the Columbia Basin, not just the WW Valley, so it isn't just the grapes. I think you could say the WW wine makers are more consistent about putting out a good product than other NW wine regions. Instead of finding a couple of notable wines in a weekend of tasting, you should find ten worth taking home. In my opinion.

    I buy my Walla Walla wine on sale at Plaza Safeway in Walla Walla and get a 10% discount with a six bottle purchase. Case purchases at the winery will save you 10 - 30%.
    Kent Lufkin and Grayone like this.
  3. If you want to save some $$ on fuel and use it for outstanding food, there is always the Woodinville option. My wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary last summer with a stay at the Willows Lodge and a fantastic (and easily the most expensive) dinner at the Herbfarm. We didn't make it out to the local wineries - but there seemed to be a number of the biggies nearby. I'm sure there is some kind of car service available.
  4. Charles-if you can into the Abeja Inn-very cool and a great winery as well. Across the street from Walla Walla Vintners. I was actually impressed with some of the wines in the Oliver BC area and Hester Creek Winery has an awesome inn attached to it. Enjoy! Rick
  5. If you stay at Abeja, you will have to drive drunk. I may be wrong , but I believe you have to be a wine list member to lodge there. Normally takes about two years to get on that list.
    Food ...Dinners....Whitehouse-Crawford, Saffron's (say hello to Island, she is great) and Southfork. If you are sober try Jim German in Waitsburg (a tapas bar with a great mixologist owner)....Breakfast lots of good choices.
    Wine is everywhere downtown, at the airport (start early in the day), south of town (start early in the day) and west of town.
    Lodging... The Marcus Whitman, Best Western......The LQ is getting, lets say well used. The vineyard, forget it.
    Nightlife.... is Sapolil's downtown .

    You will have a good time. If you are going on a major event weekend, you had better get lodging now, if you can. (check online for event weekends

    Lot's-o-fun to be had!
  6. Napa beats any wine making area in the Northwest, IMO for the total experience. I'm not saying the wine there is superior (I prefer WA wines), but Napa is just amazing place and totally worth the cost. It's especially nice if you can tack on a couple days in San Francisco and then drive up to the Napa valley.

    If you're in SE WA, try out Patit Creek Restaurant in Dayton. Amazing food!
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  7. I haven't done Walla Walla yet but just did a wine tour in Woodinville. Fairly impressed. There are some high end wineries (J&M & Adams Bench) and tons of plenty good wineries. If I recall, 106 wineries of which 70 actually are making wine in Woodinville. The others are tasting rooms for wineries in EWa. Virtually all grapes are EWa, a few maybe from OR.
  8. The problem with wives is that they want the real thing.

    For example, my wife still wants to visit the Swiss Alps. I pointed out to her that she saw the Matterhorn at DisneyLand so what was the point going to Europe. You can imagine how that discussion went!!

    Full disclosure...I have been to DisneyLand, but never to Woodinville. So I really don't know if they did a better job with vineyards than Disney did with the Matterhorn!!
    Alex MacDonald likes this.
  9. It seems that WA has better wines than BC. CA is not an actual option it's a typo in the tittle of the thread that I can't figure out how to fix.

    My goal is to leave my children and pretend that I am 26 again with my wife. She'll likely act 32 or so. The BC option seemsa whole lot more aesthetically pleasing than WW. The WW wines are better. The BC option is closer.

    I appreciate the input. It's been helpful.

    Go Sox,
  10. Woodinville is a good option too! There are a couple of nice places to stay and some really good wineries. I don't know anything about BC wineries, but have probably been to about half of the Woodinville ones.. for me though, they're about 15 minutes away from where I live!
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  11. All good advise on WW. If you go and want a good burger and beer, I always stop in at the Mill Creek Brewpub for lunch. There are also some fine dining available in WW.


  12. Or you could do a redneck Jager bomb-- Equal parts bud light and mountain dew.
  13. dick-walla 2 has the info you need for Walla Walla. That said, I stay at the Hampton, but eat at the 3 places he links. I eat at Tmac's on Mondays as the other 2 places are closed then. I don't know why people think BC wine is not as good as WA, as that is just odd, and for your needs, the Kelowna/Oliver area would be great for a trip with your wife. For example, many more wineries have restaurants there, and there are way more Abeja-style places. Check out Burrowing Owl or Hester Creek for starters.
  14. I lived in BC in the early 1970's. At that time their wines were undrinkable!! Last spring, on the annual fishing trip to BC we bought two bottles. Our verdict is that BC wines have improved over the last 40 they are merely BAD.

    Granted I started drinking wine as an Orthodox alter boy at 10!! And we moved to San Francisco when I was 12, just a hop skip and jump from Napa.

    Very few people outside northern California even drank wine in those days. Hardly anybody knew just how good Napa wines were in those days. They were cheap and good!!

    I took a bicycle trip through Europe in 1976 and was looking forward to drinking French wines. We purchased a bottle a night for the same price as California wines we drank. The $6 bottles of California wine in 1976 would be selling for a $1.50 in todays dollars.

    The French wines were awful in that price range.

    Then that fateful day in Paris on May 24th 1976.

    The world finally found out the quality of California wines. Unfortunately, all those wines I bought as a college student and young professional were priced out of pocketbook!! That interest in wine really gave a boost to the Washington wine industry.

    The movie Bottle Shock (NetFlix) is not completely true, but it does capture how far into the sticks Napa Valley was considered in 1976. It is a funny movie.

    Take some of those BC wines and drink them next to wines from Washington or California. You will notice the difference.

    Walla Walla, Yakima Valley, and Paso Robles in California are all great wine regions that are under appreciated in many circles.

    There are lots of good wine these days. They tend to be more "similar" than different between the different wineries than in the 1970's.

    These days we have a game of buying "decent" wines from Grocery Outlet. Go buy one....and dump down the sink or buy a case. I guess that's what happens when your an alcoholic old fart on a fixed income.
  15. There's no question that the Napa valley has some of the planet's finest vineyards and wineries. The problem though is that it's simply so damned crowded. There's so much traffic on highway 128/29 between Napa and Callistoga on the weekends that making a left hand turn can take ten minutes or more waiting for a break in the oncoming cars. The press of bodies, the outrageous 'tasting fees', and the limited selection in the few wineries that still even have tasting rooms makes for a less than transcendent experience for me. If I wanted to be around that many people on a 'relaxing' vacation, I'd sooner go to New York City.

  16. While I am no wine snob, my favs in WW are Walla Walla vintners, Abeja, and Dunham Cellars (owned by a friend of mine.) I have enjoyed several trips to the Napa area and their wines can be amazing, but don't sell the Oliver area short. I think Burrowing Owl can hold its own with any winery down south and the BC wines have gotten a world better in just the last 10 years. Really beautiful country as well!
  17. It is also interesting how global warming has adversely effected the Napa area. They are harvesting many of their big red grapes a month earlier than they did 15 years ago. Less hang time equals less quality. Many CA wineries are spending money on vineyard in WA now.
  18. Rick....which grape for Burrowing Owl. It has to be RED.

    I will buy a bottle next month on the annual trip!! Need to be fair to BC wines and give them another chance. We will do a blind tasting!!

  19. Kent, I hear you...but I have a solution. October/November are great months to visit. I was there last November and it wasn't crowded at all. Speed limit drives at all times on 128/29. The weather was a perfect 65-75 degrees everyday. The outrageous tasting fees were still outrageous, however...
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  20. I've had a nice Cab and also a very nice Merlot from Burrowing Owl. It is hard to get Burrowing Owl as it frequently sells out!

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