A city that’s known for rain is not the first place you’d think of for award-winning wines, but the Seattle Metropolitan area is one of the only areas in the country where you can find skyscrapers and a plethora of wine-tasting rooms within easy distance of each other.
I’ve been to dozens of wineries and tasting rooms across the region and compiled six of the best options that are within driving distance from Seattle. Whether you’re looking for something in the city, a great option for food and wine, or a budget-conscious winery, I’ve picked out unique experiences for wine fans of all types.
The Background On Washington Wines
While Western Washington may be known for its milder temperatures, the desert-like climate of eastern Washington makes this the 2nd best-growing region in the United States for wine grape production. The hot summers, and rich soils, are the ideal environment needed for the red wine grapes to fully ripen and deliver the fruity notes, and subtitle tannins that should be present in a well-made Syrah. You won’t find notes of Jolly Ranchers in your wines here.
Although Washington wines are primarily produced in Eastern Washington, many winemakers have moved production to the Seattle Metro area to be closer to their customer base. Many of those who’ve kept their production in eastern Washington still open a tasting room near their competitors in the Seattle Metro area to partake in the direct-to-customer market. Making Seattle the best Metro area for quality wine tasting in the country.
The List of Our Top 6 Seattle Area Wineries
There are dozens of options to choose from, so we’ve selected six top wineries across a series of categories.
- Best in Seattle Proper: EFESTE
- Best to Spend the Afternoon: Januik Winery
- Best for Food and Wine: Maryhill Winery
- Best for Rare Wines: Covington Cellars
- Best on a Budget: Newsprint at Guardian Cellars
- Best for Wine Aficionados: Pepper Bridge Winery
1. The Best Winery in Seattle Proper: EFESTE
- Address: 1730 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134
- Area: SoDo
- Distance from Downtown: 1.5 miles (30 minute walk or 5 minute drive)
When wine tasting in Seattle proper, Sodo Urbanworks tends to draw the most attention. This business park has congregated multiple tasting rooms creating an urban wine utopia. Located 1.4 miles North of this cluster, EFESTE winery has opened an urban tasting room to draw in those who desire to sip in the shadow of the city.
EFESTE’s been a part of the Washington wine scene since 2007, and proved their ability to continue to produce quality wines while their popularity has grown. Their Final Final Red Blend has become well known around Washington as a dependable wine and can be regularly found in restaurants on wine menus around the region. Syrah drinkers will love their Jolie Bouch, and for Cab enthusiasts, your mouth will water over the Big Papa. White wine drinkers will appreciate the Penelope Roussane or the Lola Chardonnay.
2. The Best Winery to Spend the Afternoon: Januik Winery
- Address: 14710 Redmond – Woodinville Rd NE, Woodinville, WA 98072
- Area: Woodinville
- Distance from Downtown: 18 miles (About a 30 minute drive)
Wine tasting is not a quick event. Most people see this as a group activity with the wine being an excuse to get together, rarely the purpose. Often groups can spend hours sitting and chatting in one location without thought of moving on to the next. If that sounds like your intentions, then head to Januik Winery in the Hollywood District of Woodinville.
Januik has built a large production facility that doubles as an event venue. Not only do they have an extensive wine menu, where you are sure to find at least one wine you will enjoy, but you’ll find food and entertainment to keep your group happy as well. On weekends their catering kitchen whips up Neapolitan-style pizzas for a small fee to go along with your wines of choice. Have a seat on their outside patio in the summer and play a round of bocce ball while you sip and chat away the afternoon. Kids are welcome, but feel free to hire a babysitter for some adult time.
3. Best Winery for Food and Wine: Maryhill Winery
- Address: 14810 NE 145th St A, Woodinville, WA 98072
- Area: Woodinville
- Distance from Downtown: 20 miles (About a 30 minute drive)
More wineries are embracing their customer’s desire to enjoy their wines onsite with other fellow wine lovers. Not with a quick tasting, but to sit and relax with a glass (or two). Maybe buy a bottle and split it among friends. Which naturally has led to the offering of snacks at many establishments. A few have taken this above and beyond.
Located in the historic Hollywood School House, Maryhill Winery has been getting quite the reputation for their food offerings. While they have a standard offering of your typical charcuterie plate, you’ll also find they have a full kitchen to serve mouth-watering creations. The kitchen changes up the menu seasonally to keep things fresh and keep you coming back for more. While snacks and appetizers such as baked brie and fish cakes are available, those looking for a full meal can also get full-size salads and sandwiches to keep your energy up during the flurry of wines coming at you.
4. Best Winery for Rare Wines: Covington & Two Vintners at the Vault in Maltby
- Address: 9206 200th St SE STE C, Snohomish, WA 98296
- Area: Maltby
- Distance from Downtown: 30 miles (About a 30 to 40 minute drive)
Most people are familiar with wine blends such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay. However not many have had the pleasure of tasting a Cinsault or Grenache Blanc. The world of wines is vast, but most winemakers stick to only a few well know varietals as recognition sells. However just because something is well-known doesn’t mean it’s the best. For those who are new to wine and thinking perhaps wine isn’t for you, perhaps you just haven’t tasted the right wine yet?
Enter Morgan Lee, wine enthusiast, and winemaker of Covington Cellars and Two Vintners Winery. Morgan has a passion for introducing the world to great wines and isn’t afraid to take on some of the lesser-known varietals he feels the world should know more about. Covington Cellars began first, focusing primarily on Bordeaux styles wines. Covington quickly became a success and so a collaboration began between the owners of Covington and Morgan to open Two Vintners, a new label of creative freedom for Morgan to develop wines of less renown, but deserving of your devotion. Two Vintners recently opened a new tasting room in The Vault at Maltby, but you can still visit them in their original location in the Warehouse District of Woodinville as well. Covington Cellars is located next to Two Vintners in the Warehouse District of Woodinville.
5. Best Winery on a Budget: Newsprint at Guardian Cellars
- Address: 14525 148th Ave NE, Suite 122 Woodinville, WA, 98072
- Area: Woodinville
- Distance from Downtown: 25 miles (About a 30 minute drive)
It often happens that winemakers will find themselves with too much product. In order to ensure they have enough quality products for the wines their customers have come to expect from them, they must overproduce/purchase in case some products didn’t turn out right. Winemakers have a couple of choices of what to do with their excess product. First, they can sell it to other winemakers, usually at a discount. This is how cheap bottles of wine like Two Buck Chuck are made. Their second option is to make more wine and sell it under a new name or label. This is a common story I’ve heard over the years when visiting wineries as to how their second label came about.
One such label is Newsprint. You’ll find Newsprint at Guardian Cellars. This is no second-class wine. Although the price point of these wines may be more affordable, the winemaker pours just as much love into these wines as he does his better-known Guardian label. On at least two visits to their tasting room when expressing my appreciation for this label, I’ve been met with excitement from the winemaker as he talked about how particularly proud he was of how well one of the wines had turned out ( although they all were good of course)! The Newsprint Red Blend retails for just $18, which in the world of wine is really a great deal! Guardian has tasting rooms in both the Hollywood and Warehouse District of Woodinville. If you can’t make your way to Woodinville, try the wine section at the local QFC and Metropolitan Market Grocery Stores as these have a section for local wines and often carry the Newsprint and Guardian labels.
Honorable mention has to be given to Darby Winery for their Purple Haze. The Purple Haze has grown in reputation and even has its own wine club, yet the price has held at just $20 a bottle. This is a great wine for a gift, or just to drink yourself. Darby Winery is found in the Hollywood District of Woodinville.
6. Best for Wine Aficionados: Pepper Bridge Winery
- Address: 14810 NE 145th Street | Building A-3 Woodinville, WA 98072
- Area: Woodinville
- Distance from Downtown: 20 miles (About a 30 to 40 minute drive)
While Washington is best known for labels such as Leonetti, Woodward Canyon, Quilceda Creek, and Cayuse, you won’t find tasting rooms for these wineries in or around Seattle. There’s good news though for those hoping to find a wine able to please a more refined pallet. You won’t need to drive to Walla Walla to meet your expectations.
Although their wine list is small, Pepper Bridge Winery makes up for their lack of variety in quality. Primarily focused on creating craft quality wines, Pepper Bridge delivers for those looking for a taste of what wine should taste like when done to perfection. Expect to love their Cabs, and hopefully, you will find a new favorite in the Trine. While the tasting fee is standard for this area, should you want to take a bottle home, expect to pay $70+. Quality comes with a cost, and while this is my top choice, this is not the most expensive wine you’ll find in the area. Price is one part quality, and two parts demand. Pepper Bridge Winery is located in the Hollywood District of Woodinville.
Where to Find Wine Tasting In and Around Seattle
Wine production in the Seattle area began in the suburbs in the city of Woodinville. You’ll find the majority of tasting rooms still located within the boundaries of Woodinville. The “Hollywood District”, which has become the primary area for most well-known wineries, is located a short 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle. However, for those unable to travel due to time or logistical limitations, some entrepreneurial wineries have established a small grouping of tasting rooms within the SODO region of Seattle itself.
A Note On Sampling Washington Wines
I’ve lived in Washington for the majority of my life and so naturally, living near this region of wine gurus, my indoctrination into wine culture began long before I was an adult. The wine community in Washington is connected and can be like a close nit family. I’ve been fortunate to be introduced to quite a few winemakers over the years. Once they see you share their passion for wine, many winemakers love to spend time chatting about their process, and I’ve been privileged to numerous private tours and barrel tastings. Which eventually lead me to pursue formal education in the wine process.
Yet for all my experience and education, the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no magic words you can say to make someone like a wine. It doesn’t matter how many awards a wine has won, if the grapes were grown and produced to perfection, or who has recommended it. People like what they like, and what you like today is not what you will like tomorrow. In fact, the primary reason people will buy a bottle of wine at a tasting room is not because they liked the wine, but because they enjoyed their experience while there!
It makes sense though. If you wanted the best bottle of wine, you would have gone to a wine shop and asked for a recommendation. If you’re visiting wine tasting rooms, you’re not dedicating half a day to visiting a small sampling of what Seattle’s wine scene has to offer and expecting to find the next 99-point diamond in the rough. You’re looking for an experience. So with that in mind, I hope you’ve found some recommendations that find interesting and that you enjoy your next wine adventure in Seattle!