It may never be Napa. It is not trying to be Sonoma. And the residents, visitors and winemakers of Walla Walla are perfectly happy with that. Spend a weekend in the city and find out why this small town continues to make a big mark on the world of wine-making.
Where to Stay
The Marcus Whitman hotel was built in 1927 and has since been renovated throughout the years to remain Walla Walla’s most luxurious hotel. With its regally appointed rooms, award-winning on-site fine dining restaurant and proximity to all the merriment the city has to offer, there is no better place to experience the culture of this unique Eastern Washington location, a rising star in the world of wine.
To begin your trip, stop by The Vineyard Lounge, located in the lobby of the hotel, which pours wines starting at 4 p.m., including the property’s own signature wine created by L’Ecole No 41 winery. This is a great place to grab a map and make a game plan as you dive into the myriad options before you.
Where to Eat
If you stay at The Marcus Whitman—or even if you don’t—you owe it to yourself to dine at least once at The Marc, their in-house fine dining restaurant. Influenced by traditional Pacific Northwestern fare but progressively crafted to change with the seasons, it was named Restaurant of the Year by the Washington Wine Commission in 2014. If you are interested in pulling out all the stops and have a party between four and 12 people, reserve the Chef’s Table for the ultimate pairing experience.
Where to Taste
There are more than 100 wineries and 1,800 acres of grapes in Walla Walla. While this landscape certainly adds to the allure of the city, it makes choosing just a few wineries to visit and sample a difficult task. For a diverse sampling, we suggest the following:
Heavily praised by media in the wine industry, Saviah Cellars has been a staple in Walla Walla since 2000 when the winery first opened. With fruit from Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley, they specialize in syrahs. For more information, visit saviahcellars.com.
Sleight of Hand Cellars
If you like a little bit of mystery with your world-class wine, Sleight of Hand Cellars, with their rock music playing in the tasting room and magician-themed varietals, should make your list. For more information, visit sofhcellars.com.
Va Piano Vineyards
Loosely translated as “go slowly” in Italian, the Va Piano winery is inspired by the Tuscan wine culture and stretches across 20 acres of property. They specialize in cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, cab franc and petit verdot varietals. For more information, visit vapianovineyards.com.
Located on a sprawling estate, complete with a breathtaking main estate house and a cabana house, tasting at Basel Cellars is a full experience. In fact, golf enthusiasts often stay on the property and enjoy a round of golf with their wine. For more information, visit baselcellars.com.
The Incubator Complex
The incubators are a very special endeavor located at the Port of Walla Walla. Created to allow recently graduated winemakers some room to play and grow, the complex is grounds for innovative and creative thinking surrounding wine. For more information, visit portwallawalla.com.
What to Do
There is never a shortage of wine and food-related events going on in Walla Walla. Here is just a sampling of what is happening during the month of October. It is the perfect time to enjoy the last fruits of harvest season.
- Downtown Farmers Market, 9 a.m., 4th and Main Street
- Walla Walla Symphony Soiree No 1, featuring Stephen Beus, 7:30 p.m., Chism Hall
- Food Truck Night, 5 p.m., The Incubator Complex
- Walla Walla Balloon Stampede, multiple locations and times
- Trick or Treat in downtown Walla Walla, 3 p.m.