Washington State is the nation’s second-largest wine producer with more than 55,000 acres of wine grape producing vineyards, over 940 wineries and 14 AVA’s producing roughly 17.1 million cases of wine each year. Among the AVAs is Columbia Valley, the largest wine region in the state of Washington, encompassing 40,000 acres of vineyards. The Columbia Valley wine region includes 99% of the total vineyard area planted in the state of Washington.
The AVA is ideal for growing grapes with its warm sunny days and cool nights. In fact, the region typically averages an hour more sun per day during the grape growing season than California and only up to nine inches of rain per year. These ideal weather conditions combined with Columbia Valley’s unique soils and elevations provide the foundation for developing award-winning aromas and flavors in the ripening grapes.
In this visitor’s guide, we’re exploring some of our favorite wineries to visit within the Columbia Valley wine region. That means these are the actual vineyard properties that have tasting rooms. Many wineries have satellite tasting rooms in the town of Woodinville, which are often confused with the vineyards themselves. If you’re not planning to visit the countryside, be sure to take a look at our wine tasting guide to Woodinville, which includes a plethora of tasting rooms easily accessible just outside of Seattle.
Columbia Valley Wineries & Wine Tasting Guide:
- Travel Logistics
- Best Wineries
- …and more.
When traveling to the region, we recommend flying into the Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) in Pasco, Washington. The airport is small and easy to manage with numerous connecting flights from major western hubs. You can also check prices on rental cars here, with many operators available directly at the airport. If you’re in the mood for a broader road trip, we encourage it. Consider flying into Seattle (check flight prices here), and then drive to Woodinville to get a taste of the area before heading out into the countryside for a deeper experience.
Each of the wineries mentioned below are accessible via short drives from the Tri-Cities region – not to mention there are many spectacular views and sights along the way – but as always, hiring a driver or designating a sober driver is highly encouraged.
Top Columbia Valley Wineries for Wine Tasting
19501 144th Ave NE a400, Woodinville, WA 98072
What Guests Like: Great Wines, Warm Staff, Nice Tasting Room
Wit Cellars was started by three friends, each of them with extensive experience in the wine industry, Cat Warwick, Flint Nelson and Gina Adams-Royer. Flint and Cat are the winemakers and Gina oversees the tasting room, wine club and marketing. The WIT philosophy is simple: start with the best raw materials, collect grapes from the best growers on the best vineyards, down to even the best slopes and from there use only 100% French oak and ensure everything that goes into a bottle is great – even if it means giving away product they are not completely satisfied with. As for the grapes, they are selected from Ancient Lakes, Wahluke Slope, Painted Hills, Olsen Vineyards, and throughout Yakima Valley. Each farmer is a trusted grower and a friend.
Read more about our visit to WIT Cellars, click here.
878 Tulip Ln D, Richland, WA 99352
What Guests Like: Outdoor Patio, Restaurant, Great Service
Rob Griffin and his wife, Deborah Barnard, established Barnard Griffin Winery in 1983 with a small truckload of borrowed fruit and a rented cellar. Today it is one of Washington’s premier wineries. Rob and Deborah built the current winery facility, which houses their production facility, tasting room, full-service restaurant and fused glass art studio, in Richland, Washington in 1996. Joining her father in the tasting room is Megan Hughes, the Assistant Winemaker and Enologist for Barnard Griffin. Megan joined her parents in the family business after graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology from Washington State University.
Purple Star Winery
56504 NE Roza Rd, Benton City, WA 99320
What Guests Like: Beautiful Setting, Wine Pairings, Snacks/Picnic
In 2008, Kyle and Amy Johnson started a winery in the Red Mountain area of Columbia Valley with the goal of making wine accessible, approachable, and affordable. Purple Star’s varietal blends are grown from some of Washington State’s finest appellations including Wahluke Slope, Yakima Valley and Red Mountain. The winery also has a long-held commitment of paying it forward and donates 15% of sales to the Seattle Children’s Hospital to benefit uncompensated care.
RELATED: Red Mountain Wine Tasting Guide: Best Wineries, Hotels & Restaurants
19205 N McBee Rd, Benton City, WA 99320
What Guests Like: Excellent Pizza, Stunning Views, Friendly Staff
Anelare was founded by Kahryn Campbell and is managed by Kim Gravenslund. The business began and continues with family and a passion for the community. Anelare sources its grapes through several long-term relationships with some of the most notable vineyards in the state including Ciel du Cheval Vineyards, Gamache and Sagemoor. The wines at Anelare are crafted by Charlie Hoppes, an acclaimed Columbia Valley vintner named Winemaker of the Year in 2013, by Seattle Magazine’s Washington Wine Awards.
39412 N Sunset Rd, Benton City, WA 99320
What Guests Like: Great Red Wines, Cheese Boards, Inviting Staff
Frichette Winery is a family-owned limited production winery begun by Shae and Greg Frichette. They opened their tasting room on Red Mountain in 2013 with their first vintage of only 650 cases. Today, they produce 1,400 cases of wines including mostly dry reds sourced from the Red Mountain AVA. Frichette Winery features a cozy tasting room, a wine club lounge and special events space with expansive views of Washington’s Red Mountain AVA.
Goose Ridge Winery
16304 Dallas Rd, Richland, WA 99352
What Guests Like: Beautiful Tasting Room, Outdoor Seating, Atmosphere
*Additional tasting rooms in Woodinville, Leavenworth and Walla Walla
In the early 1900s, M.L. Monson brought his family to the Yakima Valley to build a family farming business originally focused on orchards and cattle. Today, Goose Ridge is run by M.L. Monson’s grandchildren Bill, Molly and Valerie operating the largest contiguous estate vineyard in Washington State with more than 2,000 acres of estate vineyards. In addition to the 40,000 cases produced annually under its own brands, Goose Ridge also helps produce and vinify wines for well-known Northwest wineries such as Chateau Ste. Michelle, Precept Brands and Charles Smith.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
14111 NE 145th St, Woodinville, WA 98072
What Guests Like: Impressive Facility, Complete Wine Experience, Winemaking Experiences & Tours, Location in Woodinville
Chateau Ste. Michelle is a Washington State icon, steeped in history and tradition. Founded in 1912, it is the oldest winery in the state and has become a beloved destination for wine lovers from around the world.
Visitors to Chateau Ste. Michelle can expect to experience a truly unique and unforgettable wine tasting experience. The chateau-style tasting room is a beautiful, grand building with a stunning garden that offers a picturesque backdrop for sipping on a glass of their award-winning wine. The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always happy to share the story behind their wines, from the grapes they use to the winemaking techniques that go into each bottle.
The winery’s commitment to quality is evident in every glass, and Winetravelers can taste a range of their world-class wines, including their exceptional Rieslings, Chardonnays, and Cabernet Sauvignons. The winery also offers guided tours of the vineyards and their production facility, giving visitors a chance to see the winemaking process firsthand and learn more about the history of the winery.
But it’s not just the wine that sets Chateau Ste. Michelle apart. The winery’s stunning location in Woodinville, Washington, is just a short drive from Seattle, making it a popular day trip for visitors to the city. The grounds are lush and green, with beautiful views of the surrounding area, making it a great spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. Whether you’re a seasoned wine aficionado or just looking for a beautiful place to spend an afternoon, a visit to Chateau Ste. Michelle is a must-do when in the Columbia Valley region.
50207 Antinori Road, Benton City, WA 99320
What Guests Like: Small Bites, Full Wine Tours, Beautiful Vineyards
Nestled on the scenic Red Mountain in the Columbia Valley region of Washington State, Col Solare is a unique winery born from a partnership between two legendary wine producers, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Italy’s Marchesi Antinori. This collaboration brings together the best of both worlds, combining the excellence of Washington State’s winemaking with the time-honored traditions of Italian winemaking.
The winery’s story began in 1992 when the CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle met with Piero Antinori, an esteemed winemaker from Tuscany, with a vision of creating a premium Cabernet Sauvignon in Washington State. The collaboration between these two wine producers was an immediate success, with the first vintage of Col Solare released in 1995.
Visitors to Col Solare can expect to experience the exceptional quality of wine that is the hallmark of this partnership. The winery is known for producing complex and elegant wines that reflect the unique terroir of the Red Mountain. The tasting room is modern and stylish, with a stunning view of the vineyards, providing the perfect ambiance for tasting their award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Hedges Family Estate
53511 N Sunset Rd, Benton City, WA 99320
What Guests Like: Stunning Scenery, European Vibes, Delicious Wines
Hedges Family Estate is a family-owned winery located on the beautiful Red Mountain in the Columbia Valley. The winery is known for producing exceptional Bordeaux-style blends using sustainable farming practices, which are considered some of the best in the region.
The Hedges family has a rich history in winemaking, dating back to the early 1900s when their great-grandfather started making wine in France. Today, the Hedges Family Estate is led by Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges, who are committed to continuing the family legacy of producing exceptional wines.
Winetravelers can expect to experience the unique terroir of the Red Mountain through a range of tastings and tours. The tasting room offers sweeping views of the vineyards and the valley, making it a popular spot for photos. Picnics on the grounds are also possible, affording the opportunity to take in some truly stunning surrounding scenery.
Kiona Vineyards and Winery
44612 N Sunset Rd, Benton City, WA 99320
What Guests Like: Relaxed Atmosphere, Lovely Wines & Staff
Kiona Vineyards and Winery was founded in 1975 by John Williams, a mechanical engineer with a passion for winemaking. Williams believed that the Red Mountain AVA had the potential to produce world-class wines, and he was determined to make that a reality. Today, Kiona Vineyards and Winery is run by John’s son Scott and daughter-in-law Vicky, who are committed to continuing the family legacy.
The tasting room offers stunning views of the vineyards and the surrounding mountains, providing the perfect backdrop for sipping on award-winning wines. Picnics are available on this property as well.
Andrew Will Winery
12526 SW Bank Rd, Vashon, WA 98070
What Guests Like: Boutique, Fine Wines, Intimate Tasting Experiences
Andrew Will Winery is a family-owned and operated winery located in the stunning Vashon Island in Washington, USA. The winery was founded in 1989 by Chris Camarda, who has been making wine for over 30 years. The winery is known for its exceptional Bordeaux-style blends, each one crafted with care and precision using grapes from their own estate vineyards. The wines are aged in French oak barrels, resulting in a unique and delicious flavor profile that is distinctly Andrew Will.
Visitors to Andrew Will Winery can expect a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with a cozy tasting room that perfectly captures the essence of the region. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, always eager to share their love of wine with visitors.
Long Shadows Vintners
1604 Frenchtown Rd, Walla Walla, WA 99362
What Guests Like: Unique Story, Bordeaux-style Blends, Comprehensive Tours, Impressive Facility
Long Shadows Vintners is a prestigious winery in Walla Walla, founded by Allen Shoup in 2002. The winery is known for its exceptional wines, with each one crafted by an internationally renowned winemaker who has been invited to create a signature wine for Long Shadows.
Shoup was inspired by his friend and mentor Robert Mondavi’s Opus One collaboration and envisioned a more complex alliance to highlight the quality and diversity of Washington vineyards. He successfully recruited a dream team of winemakers from around the world, including Randy Dunn, Agustin Huneeus Sr. and Philippe Melka, John Duval, Michel Rolland, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari, Armin Diel, and Gilles Nicault.
The winemakers joined Long Shadows as co-owners of their wine, allowing them to learn more about Washington State’s vineyards, and exemplifying the viticultural excellence of the Columbia Valley. Long Shadows’ celebrated vintners collaborated with Gilles on vineyard preferences, picking and fermentation protocol, barrel selections, and final blending.
Long Shadows’ original team of celebrated vintners is no longer directly involved in production, but Gilles continues to maintain their long-standing methods and techniques, allowing the signature style of each winemaker to be tasted in each glass of Long Shadows wine.
Long Shadows Vintners also offers small quantities of uniquely styled wines, including Dance Chardonnay, Cymbal Sauvignon Blanc, and Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, named after Allen Shoup’s granddaughter.
This property is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts, with its exceptional wines, talented winemakers, and state-of-the-art winery that can produce wine to each winemaker’s rigorous specifications.
Spring Valley Vineyard
1663 Corkrum Road, Walla Walla, WA 99362
What Guests Like: Chocolate Pairings, Wine Quality, Family-style
Spring Valley Vineyard planted its first vines in 1993. The winery is known for its exceptional red wines, which are made using grapes grown on their ranch property.
Visitors to Spring Valley Vineyard can expect a unique and intimate tasting experience, with a focus on the quality and craftsmanship of their wines. The winery offers a variety of tasting experiences, including a Private Tour and Tasting that takes visitors on a guided tour of the ranch property, where they can learn about the winemaking process and taste their exceptional wines. The ranch property is a stunning and picturesque setting that is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the wines. Visitors can take a stroll through the vineyards, take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and even have a picnic in the scenic picnic area.
L’Ecole No. 41
41 Lowden School Rd, Lowden, WA 99360
What Guests Like: History, Unique Grounds, Knowledgeable Staff
This is a charming winery located in the Walla Walla Valley. They produce award-winning wines using sustainable farming practices and have been recognized as one of the best wineries in the region.
L’Ecole No. 41 is more than just a winery – it’s a testament to the history and spirit of Walla Walla. Founded in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson, L’Ecole No. 41 is housed in a charming schoolhouse that dates back to 1915. The winery is a living, breathing piece of Walla Walla’s past, and visitors can feel the history in every creaky floorboard and well-worn brick.
The winery specializes in Bordeaux-style reds and crisp, refreshing whites, all of which are made using grapes grown on the property or sourced from nearby vineyards. The wines are crafted with a dedication to quality and sustainability, with a focus on letting the natural flavors and aromas of the grapes shine through.
But L’Ecole No. 41 is more than just a winery – it’s a destination. Visitors can take a tour of the historic schoolhouse, explore the vineyards, and learn about the winemaking process from the knowledgeable and friendly staff. The tasting room is warm and inviting, with a rustic charm that perfectly complements the wines.
House of Smith Wines
35 S Spokane St, Walla Walla, WA 99362
What Guests Like: Vibrant Vibes, Converted Auto Garage Tasting Room, Service, Wine Quality
This winery is known for its bold and flavorful wines, and its commitment to creating exceptional wines that capture the essence of the region.
Visiting Charles Smith Wines is truly a special experience. As soon as you walk through the door of their auto garage-converted tasting room, you’re greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable staff who are passionate about sharing their love of wine with visitors.
One of the standout experiences at Charles Smith Wines is their “Wine Club Lounge.” This exclusive lounge is reserved for members of their wine club and offers a private and intimate setting for tastings and events. Members are treated to a range of benefits, including access to limited edition wines and discounts on purchases. Another unique aspect of Charles Smith Wines is their “Wine Tasting on the Road” program. This program allows visitors to book a private wine tasting experience in the comfort of their own home, office, or even hotel room. A knowledgeable wine ambassador will bring a selection of Charles Smith wines and guide you through a personalized tasting experience.
If you’re looking for a more traditional tasting experience, Charles Smith Wines offers a range of options to suit every palate. Visitors can choose from their “Classic Tasting,” “Reserve Tasting,” or “VIP Tasting,” each offering a unique and personalized experience.
1736 J B George Rd, Walla Walla, WA 99362
What Guests Like: Knowledgeable Staff, Beautiful Setting, High Quality Merlot
Northstar Winery is a magical and immersive experience for anyone who loves wine and wants to explore the nuances and complexities of the flavors and aromas. Located in Walla Walla, Northstar Winery is known for its exceptional Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other Bordeaux-style reds.
One of the standout features of Northstar Winery is their tasting room, which offers an expansive view of the Blue Mountains and a cozy, welcoming atmosphere that invites visitors to relax and enjoy the wines. The tasting flights – mixed, white, and red – are expertly curated to showcase the best of Northstar’s offerings, and the knowledgeable staff is always on hand to answer any questions and provide insights into the winemaking process.
But the experience at Northstar Winery goes beyond the tasting room. Visitors can take a stroll through the stunning vineyards, learn about the history and tradition of winemaking in the region, and have small bites outside while they digest the view.
Great Hotels in the Columbia Valley
For a hotel, Winetraveler recommends The Lodge at Columbia Point for a luxurious stay in wine country. Located on the riverfront, The Lodge is the area’s only 4-Star property. The hotel and rooms boast stunning water views, an on-site wine tasting room and craft cocktail bar, pool and in-room soaking tubs as well as a full menu of services to make your stay as comfortable and welcoming as possible.
If you’d prefer to stay within the vineyards and have a different perspective of the Columbia River, stay at the epic Safe Cliff Resort & Spa.
Take the Trip!
Washington State’s Columbia Valley is inviting with a sense of communal cooperation that seems to span all 940 wineries and 14 AVAs. Visitors to this western US wine region will be welcomed with family-style hospitality and treated to a wide array of stunning, high-quality wines. Many Washington wines are also available for shipping throughout the States for a taste of this terroir and its passionate winemakers closer to home. Either way, as fans of this region, its people and the wines, we suggest discovering it as soon as possible.
Thanks Kristy! This article might come in handy if we are still able to make our trip out that way in July.
Thanks for this great list of ideas and for the general overview of WA State and the Columbia Valley AVA. There’s clearly so much to taste and I’m looking forward to coming down from British Columbia when we can hit the roads again. There seem to be a lot of similarities with our Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, so it’ll be cool to see and taste the terroir there first hand! Santé.