A wine lover’s retreat that delivers decadence in a small-town setting
DRIVE TIME: 3.5 HOURS
Find it on the map
TRUE, THERE IS only one actual vineyard within its city limits, but Woodinville’s dearth of grapes hasn’t prevented this tiny town of 10,500 souls from hosting 40 wineries. In fact, it’s a favorite wine-country jaunt of Seattleites, who need drive but 25 minutes northeast to experience its many charms. Named for Ira and Susan Woodin, who, in 1861, were the first settlers to call the lush area home, Woodinville is set amid a soothing agrarian landscape—rolling green hills, working farms, winding country roads—that makes a fitting backdrop for a weekend spent sipping merlot, noshing on organic cuisine, taking in a riverside bike ride, or, better yet, soaking in the rare indulgence of doing nothing at all (wineglass in hand, of course). —LH
Friday, 5 p.m.
Check-In: Willows Lodge
After dropping your bags in your room, head promptly back downstairs through the lodge’s grand stone-and-wood-adorned lobby, and locate the Fireside Cellars. Here, starting at 4:30 p.m. every day, the lodge offers by-the-glass wine tastings of local bottlings—the perfect way to whet your palate for dinner at the lodge’s restaurant, the Barking Frog, whose extensive wine list has won the Washington State Wine Grand Award. $229–$699; 877-424-3930; www.willowslodge.com
Saturday, 11 a.m.
There’s something almost too indulgent about being able to walk 500 feet from your hotel-room door to Columbia Winery, one of the state’s oldest wineries. Belly up to the wood bar to try the light, crisp Otis Vineyard chardonnay, winner of a Seattle Wine Award, among other bottlings. After this, walk directly across NE 145th Street to Chateau Ste. Michelle, the winery that put Woodinville on the map. (Its riesling made the winery a staple on lists of the best Northwest wine.) Then amble down the paved path that links Columbia and Chateau Ste. Michelle to two more standout Woodinville wineries—Januik and Novelty Hill, both just a couple minutes’ walk away. www.woodinvillewinecountry.com
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Dinner at the Herbfarm
The country-French décor and communal seating are nice touches. But they aren’t why people book reservations six months in advance to dine at this restaurant, where a meal is a five-hour exercise in the gastronomic arts. Overseen by executive chef Keith Luce, a veteran of Michelin three-star restaurants in France (and the former sous-chef of the Clinton-era White House), the Herbfarm’s whimsical nine-course prix fixe menu changes with the seasons. Highlights of previous lineups include pan-fried mussels on rosemary skewers, Montana paddlefish caviar on a wild-ginger flan, herb-marinated king salmon with a three-pea salad, and a simple serving of dark chocolate paired with a 1917 Madeira. Naturally, the restaurant’s fresh herbs—lovage and angelica, for example—are incorporated into all the dishes (Luce plucks them from the garden outside). Pity the next dinner you have in Portland, or anywhere, really, as dining at the Herbfarm will make every meal eaten thereafter seem less delicious in comparison. Of course, you’ll have to pay for the privilege of experiencing an evening here: Prices for dinner run $179 to $195 per person. 425-485-5300; www.theherbfarm.com
Sunday, 9 a.m.
Bike the Sammamish River Trail
Before heading home, rent a bike from Willows Lodge and hit the 11-mile Sammamish River Trail, which begins just north of Woodinville and runs south along the river’s banks to Marymoor Park in Redmond. (You can access the trail directly behind the lodge.) When you arrive at Marymoor Park, choose a square of grass from the 640 acres available, and take a breather before beginning the return trip. $10 for a bike rental; www.metrokc.gov