Wine Wonderland

Walla Walla, Washington may not be a place that you’ve heard of, but it’s a wine destination to remember

“Everyone falls in love with Walla Walla.” It’s a sentiment you’ll repeatedly hear during a getaway to a place that many travelers outside of the Pacific Northwest have never heard of. Located in Eastern Washington, a four-hour drive or quick flight from Seattle or Portland, Oregon, Walla Walla takes effort to get to, but once there, it’s tempting to never leave—and many don’t. The result is a town full of multigenerational families and global dreamers that have brought their talents to this once-quiet farming community that’s become a wine mecca.

 It’s easy to be smitten by the area’s breathtaking Americana beauty of golden wheat fields, rustic farmlands, sweeping vineyards and spectacular sunsets that set the rambling landscapes on fire nightly. As prolific as the beautiful scenery is the area’s award-winning wine. Walla Walla shares the same latitude as France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux regions, so there are exquisite red wines to sip like syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Yet, with nearly 3,000 acres of grapes and around 130 wineries, there’s not a distinct varietal that Walla Walla is best known for. Its wide-ranging wines are racking up numerous accolades, solidifying the area as one of the nation’s top wine destinations.

Discover an elegant wine tasting and captivating vistas at Doubleback, founded by NFL football legend Drew Bledsoe, who grew up in Walla Walla and had a lifelong dream to return and craft a perfect cabernet sauvignon. Another hometown star, Justin Wylie, also came back after living in Italy to make his own wine and open Va Piano Vineyards. There, guests lazily sip complex cabernet francs and richly finished syrahs from the comfort of a hanging swing or in the Tuscany-inspired tasting room. To meet the next generation of winemakers, head to the Walla Walla Airport District to discover stand-alone incubators housing start-up wineries, like female-owned SMAK Wines, known for their refreshing rosés. In the adorable downtown lined with shops and restaurants, there are dozens of tasting rooms worthy of a sampling flight, including Maison Bleue and Goose Ridge. To soak up the scenery while tasting wine, take an electric bike tour through several vineyards with Kickstand Tours. The best time to truly immerse yourself in the area’s diverse wine scene is during Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine, an annual event in July that offers rare vintage tastings, winemaker dinners and educational talks.

Since good wine demands good food, there’s a strong culinary scene with standouts like Brasserie Four for relaxed French fare, Hattaway’s on Alder for Southern comfort food that shines with local ingredients, and AK’s Mercado for flavorful tacos and street food.

Visitors can float through fragrant purple fields at Blue Mountain Lavender Farm, owned by a French expat, to cut lavender for bouquets or enjoy a picnic on the grounds. At Frog Hollow Farm, gather heirloom produce for that picnic, meet their animals and learn about farm life from the sweet family who owns it.

For something that’s quintessentially Walla Walla, stay at The Barn B&B, a country inn with eight spacious suites created by Naina and Anand Rao. The husband-and-wife duo worked in luxury hotels in eight countries, and while they originally had their sights on settling in Napa Valley, Walla Walla won them over. Harnessing their hospitality experience, the couple nurtures guests’ every need from pillow preferences to adjustable beds and luxe indulgences like an outdoor shower. Mornings start with international breakfasts often made by Naina, and free time can be spent soaking in the heated pool and enjoying the mountain vistas. It’s their love letter to Walla Walla.