The Airport District’s flights of fancy: Mainstays, newcomers, and everything in between
When you think “wine tasting” you probably envision sweeping vineyards, idyllic views, grand estates. Your imagination might not conjure up runways and old army barracks. But if your palate leans towards the adventurous and you want to enjoy some of the best sips and views in the Walla Walla Valley, a day or two spent in Walla Walla’s Airport District is for you!
It would be easy to assume that the Walla Walla Airport District got its name because, well, it cropped up right around the Walla Walla Regional Airport. But spend even a little time in this region and you’ll discover a far more captivating reason for the moniker: the Walla Walla Airport District was the army training grounds during World War II for close to 600 bomber crews, including that of the famed Memphis Belle. Many of the businesses housed in the Airport District today embrace this heritage fully, but you’ll have to visit to see just how.
Sips that stand the test of time:
The Walla Walla Airport District is the home of Dunham Cellars, one of Walla Walla’s most recognizable names (founded in 1995). A visit to Walla Walla during the annual Dunham Days celebration (August 18-20, 2023) is the perfect way to get a taste of the signature Dunham Cellars flair for hosting and merriment.
Walla Walla’s Airport District is also the home of the Walla Walla Roastery, a local favorite thanks to the artistry that goes into every latte AND their unbeatable selection of whole bean coffee from all over the world. The Walla Walla Roastery is a charming first-stop when you arrive in the Airport District to snag a hand-crafted espresso beverage and a so-buttery-and-flaky-you-won’t-believe-it fresh baked scone before your first reservation. Don’t forget to buy a pound or two of their whole bean coffee to take home with you after your vacation in Walla Walla.
Discover a rising wine superstar!
The Airport District boasts the Incubator Wineries, where up and coming brands like SMAK Wines, ita winery, and Eternal Wines have gotten their start. The Port of Walla Walla founded the Incubator Project in 2000 to provide up-and-coming winemakers with a low-cost location to get their start. Pam Baker recently profiled the Incubator Project wineries in a piece for Food, Wine, and Travel Magazine that is worth the read if you want to virtually explore all five of the wineries currently housed in the Incubators. Suffice it to say, a day spent just in the Incubator Wineries would be plenty full… and a terrific way to discover a new favorite winery!
It’s not just the Incubator Wineries that are rising superstars in the world of wine. You can’t visit the Airport District without a stop at The Little Pink Winery, aka Prospice Wines. Yes, their tasting room is pastel pink. But their wines are far from cute and tiny… these are serious works of art in a bottle. Wine Enthusiast’s Sean Sullivan calls Prospice “one of the most exciting entrants on the Washington wine stage in the last decade.”
All wined out? The Airport District is for you!
And if you crave a taste of history (and a taste of exceptional brandy) then you have to visit DW Distilling. Just kitty corner to Quirk Brewing, DW Distilling not only produces world-class brandy from Walla Walla wines, their location in the Airport District is also home to a carefully curated history exhibit lovingly referred to as the Officer’s Club.
Another new-comer in the Airport District that has truly embraced the history and heritage of the region is the Runway Market. The charming space is right next door to Quirk Brewing and offers a selection of local and regional sparkling wine offers, mimosa flights, and delightfully snarky gifts and apparel.
We think we’ve effectively stated our case: You could spend more than a few days in the Airport District and your palate would thank you. The Airport District can fuel whatever your flights of fancy!
Airport District Wineries: Adamant Cellars, CAVU Cellars, Devium Wine, Devona, Dillon Cellars, Dowsett Family Wines, Dunham Cellars, Elegante Cellars, Eternal Wines & Drink WA State, Five Star Cellars, Golden Ridge Cellars, Hoquetus Wine Company, ita wines, Lacewing (opening 2023), Prospice Wines, SMAK Wines, SYZYGY Wines, Tempus Cellars, Trust Cellars.