Surrounded by valleys, forests, mountains, and rivers, the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, Washington draws plenty of outdoor enthusiasts to the region. Beer gardens, costumed bands playing oom-pah music, and gabled Bavarian-styled buildings turn this town of 2000 into a village reminiscent of Southeastern Germany and its popular Oktoberfest draws thousands of thirsty visitors annually.
With more than 30 wine tasting rooms in and around town, it’s also attracting wine lovers to Washington’s hottest new wine region. We recently set off to discover Leavenworth wine tasting for ourselves with our VinGardeValise wine suitcase in tow. Here are our best recommendations for places to sip, eat, and stay.
SIP – In Leavenworth
Swirl, sniff, and sip at Leavenworth’s welcoming wine tasting rooms, easily within walking distance of each other.
Goose Ridge tasting room has a casual, open airy feel. With wine bottles stacked decoratively in diagonal shaped wooden racks behind a low-slung bar, you can stand to taste or sit comfortably in wing-backed chairs or spacious wooden tables and chairs. A great stone fireplace sits in the center of the tasting room. An outside patio opens to Front Street on one side of the tasting room where, if weather permits, you can sit at small tables.
Goose Ridge is a small, family-owned and operated estate winery dedicated to handcrafting limited quantities of exquisite Bordeaux and Rhone varietal wines from the winery’s vineyard in the Columbia Valley. Goose Ridge made its first wine in 1999. Attentive, knowledgeable staff provides a relaxed experience to enjoy newly released whites along with traditional red varietals.
It’s here that we encountered our favorite travel companion, the VinGardeValise®
. Goose Ridge sells the large, 12bottle model so you can safely and conveniently travel home with your wine
purchases. Alaska Airline's “wine flies free” policy allows travelers to check a case of wine, free of charge. Southwest Airlines allows passengers to check two suitcases free. We checked our VinGardeValise as one of our free pieces.
920 Front Street, B3, Leavenworth
For an exceptional in-town tasting room experience, Patterson Cellars offers wine-tasting paired with your choice of culinary inspired chocolates or artisan cheeses. With a 12-hour advance notice, you can order a deluxe charcuterie board, prepared by Cured, a local specialty meat store. In our five-wine flight, we sampled the sparkling Blanc de Blanc, the Melange Blanc (a white blend), a Petite Verdot, and a Syrah (both from Columbia Valley), and a Red Mountain Cabernet Malbec.
Winemaker John Patterson strives to produce approachable new world wines that appeal to all palates by including single varietal and blends of whites, reds, and roses, as well as sparkling and dessert wines. By pairing these wines with food, you’ll enjoy an educational and unique sensory tasting experience.
217 9th Street, Leavenworth
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Boudreaux cabernet sauvignon, merlot and soon to be released red blend unlabeled[/caption]
With its shared space, sleek bar, and shiny suspended canoe, Boudreaux Cellars’ downtown tasting room is a favorite with visitors. Known for making excellent cabernet sauvignon, Boudreaux’s grapes are sourced from Washington’s oldest, most aromatic and complex blocks of this varietal. Their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Loess & Champoux Vineyards won the 2018 Diamond of the Decade from Seattle Wine Awards. Boudreaux also produces several other delicious reds sourced from Yakima, Walla Walla, and Columbia Valley.
In 1998, Rob Newsom made his first wine near Leavenworth in Icicle Canyon. Now the father-daughter winemaking team of Rob and Keely Newson run this award-winning winery.
421 Front Street, Leavenworth
SIP – Outside of Leavenworth
You’ll find uncrowded, family-owned, dog-friendly tasting rooms and see more of the spectacular scenery surrounding Leavenworth by visiting some of the wineries outside of town. Traffic-free roads meander through spacious green alpine meadows, pear and apple orchards, and along creek canyons surrounded by steep, forested mountains. Deer, quail, and chipmunks can be seen along the way.
Icicle Ridge Winery
The Icicle Ridge tasting room is housed in a spectacular “log cabin” home built by Louie and Judy Wagoner. It boasts a massive hand-built, river stone fireplace and large, glossy, handcrafted log tables in the kitchen. Icicle Ridge Mountain can be seen from the window of the tasting room.
Enjoy an exceptional winetasting experience as you’re seated to sample their hand-crafted wines. Don’t be surprised if the friendly owners Kristen or Don or winemaker Jens join you for a tasting.
A few of their wines (including the popular Blondes white wine named after Louie and Judy’s three daughters) are sourced from the estate’s vineyards. However, 90% of the grapes used to make their other wines are sourced from the Yakima Valley. The winery hosts unique and engaging events, like the wine hike with gourmet lunch or the midwinter snowshoe hike lit by tiki torches. Wine makes friends and although you might arrive as a stranger, you’ll leave feeling like part of the family.
8977 North Road, Peshastin
Just east of Leavenworth, Silvara Cellars offers tastings of their ultra-premium, award-winning wine in an open, airy setting overlooking the Wenatchee River Valley. A huge beamed ceiling and stone fireplace with corrugated metal wrapped around the bar greet you as you enter the spacious tasting room.
Winter weather on this hilltop location makes it difficult to grow grapes locally, so owner and winemaker Gary Seidler sources grapes from quality vineyards in Eastern Washington like Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills, and Columbia Valley. His trademark wine is his Malbec. The second most popular is his Cabernet Sauvignon.
The sweeping patio with its hillside of flowers provides a beautiful venue for music featured on Saturday afternoons. Umbrella-shaded seating on the lawn and patio provide a pleasant setting to enjoy the music and drink wine, but it’s the friendly, knowledgeable staff that makes this a memorable visit.
77 Stage Road, Leavenworth
EAT – In Leavenworth
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If you’re looking for a casual, on-the-go experience, stop by the Tumwater Bakery and enjoy their generously proportioned, homemade pastries or egg creations packaged to go. Open for breakfast and lunch, Tumwater also serves a delightful thin crust pizza in two generous sizes.
This popular biergarten is known for their sausage and beer. Dill, sweet, and cucumber relishes, apple cider sauerkraut, diced onions, sliced jalapenos, and a staggering variety of specialty mustards are available to top off your bratwurst, chicken sausage, turkey dog, or veggie wurst. Try the German potato salad and a pint of beer with a scrumptious brat while sitting in this shaded, lively spot. Beer choices range from pilsner to German chocolate cake ale.
At Alley Café the smell of garlic and fresh Italian cooking greets you as you enter this friendly establishment. Long a favorite with locals, Alley Café offers a wide variety of pasta, salads, seafood, and some of the tastiest garlic bread we’ve ever eaten. The wine list is extensive and includes local and Italian wines. Music livens up Friday nights next door at the café's Gemini Lounge.
Leavenworth’s new chef-owned café hones in on food and drink that reflects the lifestyle of the Cascades. Recommended to us by locals, Watershed has seating on a porch outside and plenty of seating inside along its red brick walls and snug bar. This place charms with a bright and lively atmosphere. Try the signature Watershed million-dollar meatloaf.
STAY – In Leavenworth
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View of the Post Hotel from below: 309 8th St, Leavenworth, WA 98826[/caption]
The Post Hotel exudes a quiet elegance. The hotel is so exclusive; there isn’t even a sign for it on the outside. Known for its European saltwater hydrotherapy pools, stepping pools, steam baths, and saunas, the Post Hotel is the perfect place to relax after a hard day of wine tasting. Daily breakfast and lunch is included. Ph (509) 548-7678 posthotelleavenworth.com
This alpine-designed lodge in the center of town is a favorite with visitors. Vibrant fuchsia-colored petunias cascade from the window boxes on the outside. The hotel’s onsite micro pub features premium Washington beers, handmade bites, and local wines. Ph (509) 888-0606 www.bavarianlodge.com
Discover the magic of Leavenworth for yourself.
After three days of wine tasting, eating, and exploring this delightful town, we found a village with a big heart, spectacular scenery, comfortable accommodations, and amazing wines. Whether you’re walking from one tasting room to another in-town or visiting friends, family-owned wineries just outside the city limits, you’ll find a wide range of premium wines. The intrepid vintners in this Bavarian village have figured out a way to produce the best wines by sourcing their grapes from the finest vineyards in eastern Washington.
If you go, be sure to bring your wine suitcase with you. You’ll want to bring some of these treasures safely home from one of Washington’s most exciting wine regions.
By Pamela and Gary Baker.
Photo Credit: Pamela and Gary Baker