Washington is the second largest grape producing state in the nation. The 2015 harvest totaled 222,000 tons of grapes, and farmers are anticipating a record harvest this year. What does that mean for you? Local wine, of course!
As loyal Washingtonians we eat local, play local, and drink local, and wine lovers are in luck, because plenty of excellent wineries in the South Sound are working their magic with Washington’s grape harvest. Join me as I head out on the South Sound Wine Trail to sample the local wineries who are turning the Eastern Washington grape harvest into the South Sound’s lovely libations.
1. Stottle Winery
On a sunny Friday afternoon I am passing through Hoodsport and make a stop at the Stottle Winery tasting room. All of Stottle’s wine-making happens at their Lacey location, which also has a tasting room and is on the South Sound Wine Trail. I step in and taste the five wines on offer that day. My favorite is the 2014 Viognier, a dry yet smooth wine with an excellent fruity finish that recently won double gold at the Seattle Wine Awards. The cozy, inviting tasting room in Hoodsport is an excellent place for an afternoon tasting, or check out the winery in Lacey. This is world class wine-making in our backyards, folks.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Winter) and 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m (Summer)
Location: 2641 Willamette Dr. NE, Suite E in Lacey
Hoodsport Tasting Room: 24180 Highway 101 Suite B 360-877-2247 hours
2. Madsen Family Cellars
Saturday afternoon rolls around and it is time to hit the wine trail again. My husband and I head to Madsen Family Cellars, in Lacey. We are greeted by the Madsens’ friendly dog. The smell of grapes fermenting wafts from the winery. Dana and his wife, Sandra, are the owners, wine makers, and sole employees of Madsen. He pours us six varieties of our choosing and offers his help with the selection. The wine menu is peppered with literary references influenced by Sandra who recently retired from an English teaching career. We sample wines with names like Three Muscateers, and Macbeth and Othello Bordeaux blends. Dana recommends the Petit Verdot, a bold red with berry notes. We take home a bottle of the Heart of Darkness Port, an excellent dessert wine.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: 2625 Reinhardt Lane NE, Suite D in Lacey
3. Northwest Mountain Winery
After visiting Madsen Family Cellars, we head around the corner to Northwest Mountain Winery, another small winery run by a husband and wife team. A couple of friends help out at the tasting room. Specializing in hearty reds and sweet fruit and dessert wines, Northwest Mountain Winery has a wine to appeal to everyone, from serious sippers to recreational revelers. The Copper Creek Blackberry is one of their most popular, and I quite enjoyed the Ancient Lakes Reserve Syrah and the sweet, juicy Mountain Melon (made from watermelons).
Hours: Friday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: 2629 Reinhardt Lane NE, Suite Q in Lacey
4. Future Stops
This Tenino winery has quite the following among locals, an extensive wine list of reds, whites, fruit and dessert wine and an impressive list of awards.
Hours: Monday through Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.
Location: 237 Sussex Ave W in Tenino
Since 2003, this Shelton winery has made a name for itself as a producer of Rhone and Mediterranean style wines. Their beautiful tasting room and award-winning wines beckon and they invite you to “Experience the Rhone.”
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 12:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.
Location: 50 SE Skookum Inlet Road in Shelton
Known for its breathtaking tasting room, decorative stagecoach and award winning red wines, I look forward to a trip to this Nisqually tasting room.
Hours: Saturday and Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (closed December 24 – Feb 11)
Location: 947 Old Pacific Highway SE in Olympia
Whether you’re already a committed wine enthusiast, or a novice who is curious about what the area’s wineries have to offer, the South Sound Wine Trail is for you. The wine-makers are friendly and approachable. Standing at their counters chatting will have you feeling like you’re with old friends. And of course, the wines are excellent. From sweet meads and fruit wines to the driest whites and reds, you’ll find something to love on the South Sound Wine Trail.
Tasting at the South Sound Wine Trail wineries ranges from $5 to $6 for five to eight pours, and the cost of a tasting can be credited towards the purchase of a bottle of wine.