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Oregon or Washington Wine Vacation


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I had the grand idea to go visit my friend who lives in Seattle in August. I figured that we would stay in the city for the weekend and then head out to wine country for two or three days of drinking and fun.

Well, I started looking into this a bit more yesterday and realized something of importance - the major wine regions of Washington are no where near Seattle? Is that a huge deal? Probably not, but it made me think a bit more about my options, namely going down to Portland instead of Seattle (my friend got orders to ship out sooner than expected, so I am going to miss him anyway).

So, the question is, do I stay in Seattle for two days and then head out to Yakima and Walla Walla for three days? Or, do I stay in Portland for two days and then head down to Willamette for two days?

I think that we can find plenty to do in the major cities for a few days, that will be easy. But I am a bit more wary about picking the wine region that we stay at for a few days. Want to make sure that it is scenic, has some good restaurants and, most importantly, has some damn good wine.

Still doing research on my own, just figured that I would ask for some friendly advice from you guys first.

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Go to Portland. First, Portland is by far the cooler -- not necessary better -- town. Second, while Pike place is pretty damn cool, the Portland Farmers Markey (Saturdays only, alas) is freeking amazing. Third, If you head down to the Willamette you can party in Eugene (I think they have a sunday "Festival"), hike in the mountains etc. If you head to Walla Wall you're in a radioactive desert much of the way.

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I have heard some really great things about Walla Walla, but the drive from Seattle is five hours, and to be honest, I don't feel like being in a car for five hours there and back on what is likely going to be a four or five day vacation.

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I vote Portland too. Head to a beach on the Columbia River Gorge and try to make it to Bend if you get a chance-- there are some gorgeous drives up there with isolated mountain lakes. Do some research and see if there are any wine/food festivals in Portland. We got lucky a couple of summers ago with a big foodie festival that included about 20 wineries, good live music, and blackberries the size of your head.

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I vote for Portland as well. I've been to both Portland and Seattle and wineried in both states and prefer Portland. It may actually be my favourite city to visit in the US. Portland is a great town with great food and the wineries are a very short drive away. Makes for a pretty fun and easy trip.

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I vote for Portland as well. I've been to both Portland and Seattle and wineried in both states and prefer Portland. It may actually be my favourite city to visit in the US. Portland is a great town with great food and the wineries are a very short drive away. Makes for a pretty fun and easy trip.

Does anyone have any recs for wineries and/or places to eat in Washington wine country? We are doing a big pacitic northwest trip with Portland, Willamette Valley, Seattle, and Washington wine country, but it seems there are threads on all but Washington wine country. Thanks for any and all tips!

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When visiting a friend in Seattle, we'd drive out to Columbia Winery just south of Woodinville. [about 25 miles from Pike Place Market]. The best nearby restaurant is The Herbfarm.

I'm not really sure where in the state you're heading. Based on the Washington State Wine Commission, wineries are everywhere.

Thanks. We're staying in Richland, which is a good bit southeast from Seattle and in between Yakima and Walla Walla, so I'm primarily looking for spots proximate to there.
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I think you might find Vancouver, British Columbia the more scenic of the choices. There are wineries surrounding the city as well on Vancouver Island.

Could you give more details about wineries in British Columbia?

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I've represented a Vancouver company for over 20 years. One of our factories is in Kelowna which is the heart of the BC wine country. I believe Vancouver is the most beautiful city I have ever been in (many know me as chauvinistic to D. C. which I love; FWIW I have been in every major city in the U. S. and Canada except Calgary and Omaha. Most of Europe, too; I've also never been short of an opinion! There are reasons why several magazines have ranked Vancouver as the most "liveable" place on earth.). If you go stay on the harbor. Kelowna is about three-four hours away. I've also been all over the state of Washington and absolutely love Walla Walla which now has something like 125 wineries including Leonetti, K Vintners and Cayuse. I'd make the argument that Walla Walla is the "hottest" area in North America for wine right now. While the area isn't beautiful like, say, Kelowna, BC the wine is incredible. (K Vintner's Old Bones...) Woodlinville is a northern suburb of Seattle and the Herb Farm, for lack of a better description, is a Pacific Northwest version of the The Inn at Little Washington. Years ago it was an idyllic, storybook house that had literally a year's wait for a reservationbefore it suffered a catastropnhic fire forcing a move. Today, it is a different experience. Columbia Crest and Chateau St. Michelle are nearby.

Go to Vancouver. Breathtakingly beautiful. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler (about 90 km) is one of the most beautiful in the world. Sitting on top of Grouse Mountain is an Alps like setting (this is the view looking back towards the city from Grouse: Vancouver from Grouse Mountain ) while Vancouver itself is framed by snowcapped mountains and water on three sides. If there is a negative it's traffic. When I started in 1990 Vancouver's population was a little over one million in the metro area. Today it approaches three. Vancouver today is much like California in the '60's and '70's when everyone wanted to live there-and many moved there.

Last, I proposed marriage in the middle of the Capilano suspension bridge: http://www.capbridge.com/

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Wow, Joe. It all sounds fantastic (except the suspension bridge). We will have 4 days in June, flying in and out of Seattle. Thought we'd drive first to Vancouver. Stay 2 nights and then wind our way back. Always looking for good food and wine along the way, as well as scenery. What about eating in Vancouver and Seattle? The Herbfarm is beyond our budget limits.

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Wow, Joe. It all sounds fantastic (except the suspension bridge). We will have 4 days in June, flying in and out of Seattle. Thought we'd drive first to Vancouver. Stay 2 nights and then wind our way back. Always looking for good food and wine along the way, as well as scenery. What about eating in Vancouver and Seattle? The Herbfarm is beyond our budget limits.

In Seattle you must go to the Pike Place Market. For lunch Emmitt Watson's Oyster Bar. For dinner Wild Ginger is a long standing institution. Seattle is a really interesting city with a number of unique attractions including the Seattle Underground. Still...

Arguably Vancouver is the equal of Hong Kong for Chinese food. Ten years ago I wrote an essay on Chowhound about live (literally, alive) seafood in a restaurant called Sun Sui Wah which was and still is Vancouver's best seafood restaurant. Honestly, I couldn't go back (you can't imagine what it is like to have a live Alaskan King Crab "presented" to you on a platter. For myself it literally touched me.) Simply said there are experiences in Vancouver you won't find here. This is one of them. Also, Vij (Indian), Tojo's (sushi), Bishop's and Lumiere (creative "New Canadian"). Two days is not enough for Vancouver. The problem you're going to have is that once you get there returning to the U. S. won't matter. Nothing in the Pacific Northwest even approaches it for beauty. Inside the border Lopez Island and Anacortes are interesting. In Canada Vancouverites go to Victoria which is unique and charming, very British actually. Still, I would stay near the harbor and use it as a base for exploring. If it's warm sit outside at Bridge's http://www.bridgesrestaurant.com/ . Sit outdoors at Horizons or go for the view at Salmon House on the Hill http://www.salmonhouse.com/ If you are into walking I believe that the walk along the seawall encircling Stanley Park is the most beautiful walk I have ever done. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Park You are also going to need a car; it is much more than just downtown. West Vancouver, just getting lost is worthwhile there. Find a mountain, drive up it, stop and just get out and look around. Take a ferry. Anywhere. Have curb service at the White Spot in North or West Vancouver: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Spot

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Two days is not enough for Vancouver. The problem you're going to have is that once you get there returning to the U. S. won't matter. Nothing in the Pacific Northwest even approaches it for beauty.

Looks like we should stay at least one more day - and thanks for all the recommendations!
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