As the unofficial wine capital of Washington, Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries with tasting rooms, a nationally recognized culinary scene focusing on farm-to-table dishes which emphasize Walla Walla’s agricultural roots. Nestled at the base of the Blue Mountains, Walla Walla offers an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities as well as some of the prettiest views in eastern Washington. As one of the oldest cities in the state, Walla Walla highlights a rich history of Native American heritage, a legacy of French-Canadian fur trappers, Fort Walla Walla Museum, the Whitman Mission Historical sight, and the Lewis-Clark Expedition.
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The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District – A Tasting Itinerary
The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District is charming. The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District is eclectic. And the Downtown Walla Walla Wine District is convenient! Within walking distance of great hotels, award-winning restaurants, shopping, and fine arts, the Downtown Walla Walla Wine District could keep you busy for days on end. To get you started, we’ve put together an easy three-day itinerary for you to follow.
Plenty of wine, great meals, and good company. No drive time.
Day 1: The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District Tastings
Your energy and walking comfort are both at their peak on arrival, so plan to visit the just-off-Main Street downtown Walla Walla wineries first. After a delicious brunch at a downtown mainstay like Bacon & Eggs or the newcomer, AK’s Mercado, you’re ready to embark on your first day of wine tasting in the Downtown Walla Walla Wine District.
Make your first stop at Seven Hills Winery, one of the founding wineries in the Walla Walla Valley. The winery and tasting room are located in the historic Whitehouse-Crawford building in downtown Walla Walla, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built as a wood mill in 1904, the building underwent restoration in 2000 to house the winery and preserve its architectural integrity. The locale is lovely but the wines are what you’ll be talking about later. At Seven Hills Winery, the focus is crafting Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines that authentically reflect their places of origin. You’ll also find a delicious dry Rosé in the summer months, sure to be your go-to porch sipping wine long after your getaway. In addition to the most traditional Bordeaux varietals, you’ll discover some of the unsung heroes of the region, like Seven Hills Winery limited-production Carmenere.
Continuing to visit some of the “just-off-Main Street” wineries on day one, proceed to your private tasting at Elephant 7 or Forgeron Cellars. At Elephant 7 you’ll discover Rhone varietals in an unexpected setting and go home knowing about one of the best-kept secrets in Walla Walla wine. And at Forgeron Cellars, you’ll be treated to both the classic grape varietals and unique blends from the most exciting vineyards in the Columbia Valley.
Day 1: Where to Eat
Walk a bit further into downtown Walla Walla for an early dinner at Hattaway’s on Alder, where Southern hospitality and honest food await you. Their pimento cheese appetizer and fried chicken main course are just the sustenance needed after a day of walking and wine tasting. And of course, their wine list of local stand-outs is a perfect way to experience some of the offerings from a winery outside of the Downtown Walla Walla Wine District.
Day 1: Go Play!
A visit to Walla Walla could exclusively center around wine tasting, but our Downtown has so much more to offer. Squeeze in some recreation as well. After dinner, enjoy a short walk to Divots Golf for a round of virtual golf! Divots Golf uses cutting-edge simulator technology that captures the direction and speed of each golfer’s swing, paired with top-of-the-line software that offers players a fully immersive golf experience. At Divots, you can play nearly 90 different courses from around the world, regardless of the weather or daylight! Their inviting atmosphere is amplified with a great selection of beer, wine, and coffee to enjoy while playing 9 or 18 holes or simply practicing your short game.
An action-packed day of walking, sipping, and swinging caps off with a short walk back to your hotel to refresh for day two.
Day 2: The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District Second Avenue Tastings
The second day of your Downtown Walla Walla Wine District tasting adventure takes you up and down Second Avenue. Here, you’ll discover so many fantastic wineries in just a block or so of real estate… which means you can squeeze in a few more spots!
On one side of the street, you have Goose Ridge Estate Vineyards & Winery, Moonbase Cellars, and Barons Winery to visit. Goose Ridge offers both wine AND cider flights, as well as an utterly delightful selection of home goods, apparel, and wine accessories that will knock “bring back gifts for wine-loving friends” right off your vacation to-do list. Moonbase Cellars is a relative newcomer, having just opened its tasting room in the spring of 2021. And at Barons Winery, you’ll get to taste delicious Bordeaux-style wines from storied vineyards.
Cross the street and break up your afternoon of tasting with a Farm to Tasting Experience at Spring Valley Vineyard. Featuring local and regional artisanal producers, the Farm to Tasting Menu at Spring Valley Vineyard offers more than just a cheese plate to satiate your mid-day hunger. Reinstall that base layer with the ploughman’s lunch – a hearty sourdough roll with smoked ham, aged gouda cheese, farm egg, and caramelized walnuts. Or enjoy a light snack and save room for later with herb-roasted chilled root vegetables accompanied by fresh burrata mozzarella. And we haven’t even started talking about the wines! Spring Valley Vineyard boasts a unique family heritage and produces limited-production, estate-grown red wines that reflect the dedication of six generations of family farmers. The family stories you hear while you’re tasting at Spring Valley Vineyard will add richness to your enjoyment of the wines later as you recount them with good friends who missed the trip.
Don’t miss Maison Bleue Winery for a taste of the Rocks District without the drive time! Focused primarily on Rhône varietals such as Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier, your 90-minute private tasting can be scheduled in advance at 11am, 1pm or 3pm.
Then swing by Kontos Cellars (or swing INSIDE Kontos Cellars, because yes, they have a swing!). Their covered patio is one of the best in downtown Walla Walla, where you can enjoy a tasting of terrific small lot blends and varietal representations.
Day 2: Where to Eat
That wraps up your tasting for Day 2, but you will want to cap it with magnificent dinner. We can think of no better place to make that special reservation than Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, where James Beard award-winning chef Chris Ainsworth produces inspired mezze, pasta, flatbreads and so much more. Start with the oysters on the half-shell followed by the farmhouse flatbread. Can’t decide between the house-made Gemelli or fettuccine? Have both. You walked a bit today! Then savor the adobo marinated hanger steak with wilted greens and ricotta torte to finish the evening. And don’t forget, local wines to pair.
Day 2: Make it dinner & a show
For a touch of Walla Walla night life, walk just a bit outside of the downtown district to take in a cinema screening at the historic Gesa Power House Theatre Walla Walla. This 120-year-old building was once the Walla Walla Gas Plant, originally built to produce coal gas and pipe it underground to light the streets, businesses, and homes of Walla Walla. In 2011, the interior of the building was transformed into a state-of-the-art performing arts theater inspired by the intimate Blackfriars Theatre in London, England. Today, the theater stages professional productions featuring comedy, music, family programs, films, festivals, and more. This beautiful masterpiece of a building is a must-visit for enthusiasts of the arts and will be a perfect nightcap for your day of tasting on Second Avenue.
Day 3: The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District Main Street Wineries
Main Street Walla Walla is considered one of America’s Most Beautiful Streets, according to a recent article by msn.com. Winery tasting rooms, boutiques, bakeries, jewelers, and even soap sellers nestle inside renovated Victorian and Beaux-Arts buildings, giving the street a historic, vibrant character. Your final day of tasting gives you an opportunity to take in this beautiful stretch and appreciate the stunning architecture while you sip!
Start the day with a seated tasting at Armstrong Family Winery. This first-generation winemaking family works together to craft outstanding, classically-styled Washington wines that are sold almost exclusively to Wine Club and visitors to the tasting room. This means you’ll discover something here that you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else… wines that express the unique character of the vineyards, and that tell the story of the fascinating people who participate in each bottle. Owners Tim and Jen Armstrong are likely to be around when you visit, so be sure to say hello and experience a bit more of their story.
Continue the family-owned theme, this time with deep historical ties to the Walla Walla Valley, when you taste at Otis Kenyon Winery. We love Otis Kenyon for their elegantly structured and affordable Bordeaux and Rhone varietal wines, but perhaps equally so for the artful way that their rich family history ties into every bottle of wine. We don’t want to spoil any surprises, but just know that during your visit you’re going to hear an utterly fantastic story of how a struggling dentist in the early 1900s went from disgraced to having his silhouette grace the label of award-winning Walla Walla wines. (It’s one of our favorite winery stories of all time.)
Save time for a visit to neighboring Henry Early Estate Winery or Browne Family Vineyards before lunch across the street in the Plaza on 1st. You can dine on Greek cuisine from Yamas, New York-style pizza and stromboli from Sweet Basil Pizzeria, or a playful frankfurter at the charming “Wiener & Bun” hotdog window located in the historic Sayers Building.
Proceed to the end of the Main Street strip for your next wine tasting at Bledsoe Family Winery. This is the sister project to the esteemed Doubleback Winery founded by former NFL quarterback and local hero Drew Bledsoe. The Bledsoe Family Winery downtown Walla Walla Wine Lounge pours a flight featuring Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé, Chardonnay, and more produced from Walla Walla Valley grapes.
Don’t miss your opportunity to taste at DAMA Wines, the only certified women-owned winery in the Walla Walla area. Their dangerously beautiful wines embody the spirit of pioneering women who have inspired passion, creativity and positive change for centuries, and every label is a work of art. Their inviting tasting room space features eye-popping artwork and decor in addition to their beautiful wines.
For an authentic taste of Northwest adventure, drop into Canoe Ridge Vineyard’s downtown tasting room. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you don’t want to skip Plumb Cellars for their popular wine slushies on the patio by the Land Title Plaza.
Day 3: Shop in Downtown Walla Walla
Want a new outfit to pair with your new wine collection? Leave time on your schedule for some shopping in downtown Walla Walla’s vibrant fashion scene. Forward Boutique offers a signature experience with master stylists who will outfit you from head to toe. Bring an empty suitcase, or just don’t bother packing and let their stylists dress you for your entire visit! Studio Opal is a specialty boutique featuring everything from Pendleton Wool to handmade jewelry and beauty and wellness products. And Walla Walla Clothing Company offers personalized shopping for men and women in their two-story flagship location downtown.
Day 3: What’s for dinner
As far as dinner is concerned, whether you’re staying at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center or not, we recommend a meal at The Marc Restaurant. Recently awarded “Restaurant of The Year” by the Washington Wine Commission, The Marc Restaurant is a dining experience to write home about. Their six in-house chefs meticulously prepare the region’s finest menu of Pacific Northwest delicacies from jumbo diver scallops with risotto, wild spinach, and roasted peppers to Wagyu boneless short ribs with roasted carrots, Italian sweet peas, and caramelized sweet onion jus to name just a few. And with a miraculously diverse wine list you are guaranteed to experience a peerless wine-paired meal at The Marc Restaurant to end your Walla Walla visit very, very full.
The Downtown Walla Walla Wine District is home to some true Walla Walla mainstays, but there are some new additions we thought were noteworthy. Vital Wines is opening a downtown Walla Walla tasting room on 2nd Ave. adding their beautiful Walla Walla Valley wines and their ambitious and noble cause to the mix of must-visit wineries on that strip. And in the spring of 2021, one of Walla Walla’s most acclaimed and recognized wineries, L’Ecole No. 41, opened their Heritage by L’Ecole Wine Bar in the Marcus Whitman Hotel, joining Locati Cellars, Mansion Creek Cellars, and Lodmell Cellars. At Heritage by L’Ecole, you can enjoy wine flights and glass pours, both indoors and outdoors by reservation online or by calling 509-676-3777. If you want to taste L’Ecole No. 41 award-winning wines but didn’t want to venture outside of the Downtown Walla Walla region, this is the place for you!
That’s your Itinerary in the Downtown Walla Walla Wine District
As you can see, a world of wine, culinary, and shopping experiences await you in the Downtown Walla Walla Wine District. You could quite literally leave your car parked for the entire stay and have a full itinerary of some of the region’s most coveted wines and restaurants. Whether you are wanting to save on the rental car, save on gas, or simply want to stretch those legs, a three (or more) day visit to Downtown Walla Walla Wine District is not only doable. We highly recommend it!
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