Wednesday, July 13, 2011

{travel} Woodinville, WA

"There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking."
- Ben Franklin

It is no secret that the Smith family loves to drink. We especially love us some wine and beer. No, we are not alcoholics. In fact, I drink way less than your average college student. (Just ask my friends - I am completely incapable of taking a mixed shot in one gulp and have never chugged a can of beer in my life.) I grew up around my Dad's loud, ridiculous Italian/Irish family in Florida where family gatherings always include multiple bottles of wine flowing freely and coolers of beer on ice on the patio by the pool (and TONS of delicious food, of course.) My dad brews his own beer each season. I used to hate the way it would "stink" up the house, but in my old age I have come to appreciate it. My parents also have two wine refrigerators. One for reds, one for whites. Maybe if we lived in California by my Mom's more demure Chinese family things would be different.  Maybe. 

Pouring the samples at Chateau Ste. Michelle
Needless to say, we will never turn down an opportunity to visit a winery or brewery. Luckily for me, my first official wine tasting experience happened to occur in a pretty spectacular wine region, Woodinville, WA. Had you asked me prior to my trip to Seattle if good wine came out of Washington, I would have looked at you and shrugged my shoulders. In fact, I never really thought anything of Washington State at all. I'm so glad we had a chance to explore this beautiful region of Washington before we left for our cruise. I also can now officially profess my love for Chateau Ste. Michelle wine.

One of the first wines I ever tried was the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. (Okay, maybe it was Beringer White Zinfandel. Embarrassing, I know. But it was pink and I drank it while watching girly movies with my roommates. Does that redeem my decision?) My parents have been big fans of Chateau Ste. Michelle wines for a while, so after they found out that my college student taste buds finally appreciated better wine than white zinfandel, they poured me a glass of their Riesling. I couldn't have been happier. 

(1) The Chateau.
(2) Wines we tasted - Eroica, a Chardonnay, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
(3) Wine is essentially made in these steel containers and then transferred to oak barrels.
(4) The bottling room.
We did a tour of the beautiful grounds and bottling process at Chateau Ste. Michelle and then tasted three of their wines - Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Bob Bertheau and famed Mosel winemaker Ernst Loosen's collaboration Riesling, Eroica, a 2009 Chardonnay, and a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the tasting room.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is also known for having beautiful grounds and gardens.
My mom and I loved this cherry blossom tree.
Our next stop was just a little bit different from our first. Way less refined but just as fun. I had never tried Red Hook beer before we toured and definitely didn't realize they sold it in my grocery store in Florida. We sampled their ESB, Pilsner, Copperhook, IPA, and Wit. My favorite was the Wit. It tastes a lot like two of my favorite beers, Blue Moon and Shocktop.

Quote of this tasting: "Shall we keep talking or do you want more beer?"
Red Hook Brewery is also a restaurant, so we grabbed some food before we headed off to our next tasting room. My mom and I split the french dip sandwich and my dad ordered a sausage sandwich. Perfect accompaniments for the remainder of our sample beers. 

Stop 3: DeLILLE Cellars' Tasting Room
We asked the people at Chateau Ste. Michelle what other wineries we should check out. Barb, our tasting guide, suggested we drive over to an area of Woodinville about 5 minutes away that was swarming with tasting rooms. She told us that DeLILLE made pricey wine but that it was definitely worth it to stop by and taste. 
The "Big Daddy" wine was uncorked while we were there. We were able to taste their $135.00 bottle of Grand Ciel  free of charge. It was definitely our lucky day.
We ended up buying two bottles of wine from DeLILLE,  2008 DeLille Cellars D2 and a 2009 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc. My parents and I were especially smitten with the D2. We brought them over to our former neighbors' house that night for our dinner party with them.

Stop 4: Sparkman Cellars' Tasting Room
The next place we stopped was an unassuming tasting room located in between a restaurant and a barbecue store. I loved this place though! The tasting guide was incredibly friendly and shared the story on how some of their wines were named. Sparkman Cellars is a true family-run company. A few of their wines are named after their young daughters. I really enjoyed the wine here as well. 

We ended this completely fantastic day by visiting our former neighbors who up and left us in Tampa and are now living a perfectly wonderful life in Seattle.

Laura and Jay and their new puppy, Hank.
My Mom and Dad sitting by the firepit.
I leave you with this adorable picture of Hank.
Next travel post will be about our tour of Pike's Place Market. :)

xx, Jen

This post is featured on Dwellable!


  1. I am so glad you loved Chateau Ste. Michelle! The company I intern for(and will hopefully work for next year), Altria, owns Ste. Michelle. I have yet to try it since I am over on the east coast but with your stamp of approval I must order some on my discount!

  2. Ah that is so exciting! You muuust try their wine! I haven't had one I didn't like. They are even sold at most brand-name stores, but if you can get the discount through your company then definitely take advantage of that! :)

  3. Lovely family you have there! Your blog is really great! Wine tasting is just wonderful! I love it!

  4. Hi Jen,
    My name is Toni and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Woodinville to share on our site and I came across your most excellent blog...absolutely love this area with so many to do's and the design of your story. If you're open to it I would like to feature your blog, please shoot me an email at toni(at)dwellable(dot)com.
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