Spokane has more wine taste rooms than ever before. It might be that "pacing yourself" will take on a whole new meaning here. Having been to the South of France for wine tasting at its finest and to California's great Sonoma Valley and Napa, I have to say that Spokane has as much or even more to offer for the wine enthusiast. Here are my Top 5 reasons to visit Spokane as a wine tasting destination:
1. Style and ambiance – if you are looking for that classic wine tasting experience…the long drive, the hill side, the grapevines, the park like surrounding for a picnic lunch with your new wine…then Spokane has one of those. It is called Arbor Crest and it does boast an experience that most experienced wine tasters will love. It is a great place to make a day of it. You can catch the symphony there or local bands in the summer, you can host your own private event or simply bring a blanket and a basket.
2. Taste Room Crawl – the best way to taste a lot of wines in a short time period is to have a grouping of them all together. Spokane has a couple clusters like that. My favorite being right downtown. There are several wineries that have their own tasting rooms like the fabulous Barrister that is a destination in itself. Make sure to try their "Rough Justice"… it is one of their best! Being able to stay at one of The Davenport Collection Hotels and position yourself to tour 3-5 wineries a day offers a full weekend in itself without even adding all the other amazing shopping, dining and experiences downtown. Make sure to hit Nectar as they carry multiple labels and mix things up regularly. Barili has some munchies in the event it is # 3 or # 4 on your list…always good to catch a bite in there to help extend your tasting day!
3. Variety – prefer a dry white or a fruity red? Not a problem. While the blends are some of my favorite wines in Washington, there are many straight grapes and other varietals to meet even the pickiest taster's needs. When asked does WA produce more reds or more whites, the answer is almost too close to compute. As of 2012, we are producing more reds than whites! But as late as last year, our 2 largest producing grapes in WA were the Chardonnay and the Riesling.
4. Wine 101 – having been to a quite a few of the classic wine tasting experiences, it is easy to pick up that I am a complete amateur when it comes to consuming wine and appreciating all its complexities. However, when I taste wine in Spokane no matter where I go, it is easy to feel included in the “group”! The wine room attendants I have found to be extremely educated on wines in general. Our last experience at Nectar taste room downtown had us hanging on the every word of what appeared to be a simple college aged student working part time. I swear she was working on her sommelier degree! And when accosted by such vast knowledge one would think it would make one feel so much more inadequate, but instead, the enthusiasm shared by all Spokane wine enthusiasts is only matched by their desire to help educate their fellow wine drinker as well. Spokane is the place to come if you want to come and learn without feeling like a kindergartner seeing the big box of crayons for the first time.
5. Lots to do – unlike the usual wine tasting tours and experiences I have partake in, Spokane wineries are easy to get to and close to entertainment and activity. Riverside Park is an awesome adventure for all from the family fun venues like the Looff Carousel to the Centennial walking trail. Spokane is home to a fabulous river – enjoy some white water rafting or a leisurely float trip. Love fresh fruit? There is almost always something in season up at Green Bluff for the picking – peaches, cherries, apples…and finally, in the middle of the winter, if you need to burn off all the extra calories of wine tasting and the munchies that go with it, head up to the slopes of one our local ski resort and ski long and hard so you are up to the challenge to taste again the next day!
Make Spokane your next wine tasting destination and you will not be dissapointed – I assure you! Visit Spokane has more info at: http://www.visitspokane.com/food-drink/wine/wineries/