With more than 900 wineries across the state, Washington has become the second-largest producer of wine in the United States after California. The options available in and around Seattle alone are staggering. There are dozens of wineries within the city limits and as you head outside the more urban areas there are at least 100 wineries within an hour’s drive. Just 30 minutes outside of Seattle you have Woodinville Wine Country with around 90 amazing tasting rooms and nearly as many wineries.
Woodinville alone has enough wine quality and variety to satiate any sommelier or enthusiast. Then you also have the Yakima Valley to the south, Walla Walla further east from there, and the Tri-Cities community too. The whole state is made for wine lovers and you could easily drive from region to region on a year-long quest of wine sampling.
The starting place for such a quest would undoubtedly be the Seattle/ Woodinville area. One region of Woodinville has around 40 wineries accessible in a single square mile while another comparable area has around 20 wineries. It isn’t likely that too many people have the time or the liver to visit all of these spots though so it helps to prioritize things.
Here we have compiled a list of some of the best wineries in and around Seattle to help make the adventure of sampling a little easier. We’ll start with the urban Seattle wineries and then branch out the overly abundant selections of Woodinville.
The best wineries in Seattle
Washington wines are mostly defined by the “Big Five” that typically come out of the state. That is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Wine production in the region takes advantage of more than 70 varieties though so the local tasting options are broad, to say the least.
Having so much wine to choose from makes choosing the best wineries a challenging and somewhat subjective task. Think of this list as more of a guide and less of a final word if you will. As you explore these wineries and their tasting rooms you should feel free to break ranks with the list and try something new if it calls to you. Jet city has a lot to offer!
SODO Urban Works is not a winery. That disclaimer has to be stated right out the gate. However, no list of Seattle wineries would be complete, or even worth it, without mentioning SODO. What SODO is actually is a shared space that 10 different wineries call home.
Located just south of downtown Seattle, SODO is a sprawling complex of wineries, tasting rooms, and places to just chill out. It makes the list of best wineries because every winery there is very good and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. SODO is an institution in the Seattle winemaking scene so you have to check it out.
If your first stop on this wine exploration journey is in Seattle and you make your way over to SODO then you should check out Structure Cellars. The winery was founded in 2011 by husband and wife Brian and Brandee and they are very focused on making great wine. They offer quite a variety so you could keep coming back to them and always be trying something different.
At SODO they have two different tasting rooms each with its own unique selection of wines. The first is called the CELLAR which focuses on limited release and single-vineyard selections. The theme here is a little more upscale. Their other tasting room, the BLUEPRINT Room, is a little more relaxed. Here you’ll find hip-hop music and daily wine specials. If you go to the tasting rooms on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm you will be treated to cheese and wine pairings.
Crucible Wines is located just down the road from SODO Urban Works and it is another excellent Seattle winery. Founded in 2010 by winemaker Darryn O’Shea, Crucible Wines mostly offers red wines although the occasional white does work its way in. If you are in the area on a Friday or Saturday evening you can stop by their warehouse for their weekly complimentary tastings.
Domanico Cellars is a well-established element of the Washington wine scene. In addition to their Seattle based winery and tasting room they also have several vineyards in other parts of the state. The Seattle tasting room is located in the northern Ballard neighborhood. Here you can pop into the Barrel Room gallery to check out local artists while enjoying a glass of one of their excellent wines.
On Thursday and Friday nights they host paint nights so you can let out your inner Picasso as you have a glass or three of red. On top of that, they regularly host food trucks and they have a selection of their favorite beers and ciders from local breweries available too.
In North Seattle, in the Roosevelt neighborhood, you will find Eight Bells Winery. Eight Bells sources their grapes from vineyards in Washington’s Yakima Valley and then they produce the wine at their winery in the city. Here they produce some 2000 cases of red and white wine every year. The nautically-themed space also doubles as a tasting room on Saturdays so you can try one of their lovely craft wines.
Eight Bells has been in business since 2009 and within that time they have won many accolades from local newspapers and critics. The owners Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd, and Frank Michiels regularly make appearances at the wine tastings as do many regulars who swear by their wines. This is definitely a winery worth visiting.
The Georgetown neighborhood of South Seattle is home to Laurelhurst Cellars. Founded in 2004 by Greg Smallwood and Dave Halbgewachs, Laurelhurst grew from a small basement project into a respected winery producing wines from grapes sourced from some of the best vineyards in Washington.
The tasting room is usually open from 12-5 pm every Saturday so you will have to plan accordingly. When you go you should ask about their charitable work because the purchase of certain wines sometimes benefits a charity they are working worth. Laurelhurst is also working on maintaining and building their sustainable practices so they are collecting corks from anyone who wants to bring them.
The Tasting Room, like SODO Urban Works, isn’t a winery in itself but it hosts a collection of eight great craft wineries. This beautiful wine bar is just down the road from Pikes Place Market and the original Starbucks. Here you can find a nice variety of wines available year-round and no Seattle wine tour would be complete without stopping here.
The Tasting Room regularly hosts musicians so there is often live music to be enjoyed. You can also come for their happy hour or join their wine club to take advantage of great deals. If you get hungry while there you don’t need to look any further than the menu which offers a nice assortment of small bites.
8. :Nota Bene
Winemaker Tim Narby has been honing his craft for over three decades and he brings all that skill to bear with :Nota Bene. Tim carefully selects grapes from some of the most prestigious vineyards in Washington so he can create his award-winning small batches.
These small batches are then made available in locations such as The Tasting Room. You can also visit the :Nota Bene Cellars Winery in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle. They are usually open the second Saturday of every month from 1-5 pm.
Wilridge is the oldest operating winery in Seattle having opened its doors in 1988. In 2007 they branched out and took ownership of an estate vineyard near Yakima which they then certified organic. In 2017 they even launched an artisan brandy distillery where they transform pears, grapes, and apples from their estate into the lovely liquor. Needless to say, Wilridge is always innovating and transforming.
Their wines are award-winning and they have been considered by some to be the greenest winery in Washington. Wilridge is another one of the excellent wineries that you can experience at the Tasting Room. They also host various events throughout the year and, like many of the wineries on this list, they have a great wine club you can join.
The best wineries around Seattle
As if the selection of wineries within Seattle wasn’t enough you are spoiled for choice as soon as you leave the city. Only thirty minutes drive from the city center you have Woodinville, a place that is any wine lover’s dream. Here you can find almost one hundred tasting rooms and nearly as many wineries all packed within a short drive or walk of each other. If you come to the region to experience the wine you are going to want to set aside as much time as possible for Woodinville. Really, the whole region around Puget Sound and the northwest of Washington begs to be experienced by wine connoisseurs.
If you were to experience only one winery in the region you would have to make it this one. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery is Washington’s founding winery with a history that dates back to 1912. Ste. Michelle vintners were introduced in 1967 and the first vines of their historic Cold Creek Vineyard were planted in 1972. This winery hasn’t just witnessed the rise of the Washington wine scene, it helped make it.
This winery has the longest list of award-winning wines in the state and you can enjoy them 7 days a week from 10-5 pm. The winery offers several unique experiences that any wine aficionado would enjoy. There are the complimentary tour and tasting, of course, but also wine courses and guided tastings.
If you are lucky enough to visit during the Summer then you can experience one of their famous Summer concerts. Several big-name artists such as James Taylor, John Legend, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Sarah Maclachlan have performed, just to name a few. Every year the concert surprises with someone new and all proceeds benefit the Chateau’s charitable contributions programs.
The owners of Efeste, Helen and Daniel Ferreli, come from old-world Greek and Italian roots respectively. Winemaking and wine drinking is in their blood. Daniel even had a yearly tradition of making wine with his grandfather’s old wine press. This tradition turned into bottling and labeling homemade garage wine and that soon exploded into what Efeste is today!
The winery abides by the rules of minimalist techniques and natively fermented wines harkening back to their roots. This has earned them popularity, loyal consumers, and several awards. Efeste hosts different events throughout the year at their Woodinville location. You can taste their amazing wines year-round though by either visiting the winery in Woodinville or finding them at SODO Urban Works in Seattle.
12. Pomum Cellars
Pomum Cellars was named the 2019 Winery of the Year by Woodinville Wine Country. In a region with so many excellent wineries piled one on top of the other, this distinction is especially remarkable. The honor is well earned though, winemaker Javier Alfonso has made an amazing display of Washington state wines. Originally from the Ribera del Duero region in Spain, he has married Spanish techniques with new world varietals. Javier has also spearheaded another excellent label, Idilico, which showcases Spanish varietals.
Located on Artisan Hill in the Woodinville Warehouse District you can visit Pomum Cellars most weekends from 12-5 pm. The Tinto Tempranillo, in particular, is a wine you should try which highlights Javier’s skill, dedication, and passion for making wine.
13. Columbia Winery
The Columbia Winery was founded in 1962 by an eclectic group of friends most of whom were university professors. Out of that grew what is now a large, well-acclaimed, award-winning, winery in the Columbia Valley. Almost everything they make is a powerful display of the grape varietals that Washington is known for.
Their size and acclaim have afforded them the ability to open to the public 7 days a week from 11 am until around 6 pm most days. Here you can take tours, taste wines, and even engage in classes to expand your wine knowledge. Like any great winery, they have a wine club you can join which is very much worth it if you love the wine and are in the area often.
With Novelty Hill – Januik you are getting two great wineries in one. Novelty Hill and Januik are independent wineries that share a location, tasting room, and winery. They are both operated by Mike Januik who has a reputation in the area for simply making fantastic wines. A former wine shop owner he one day decided to sell the shop and go back to school for winemaking. Years later he graduated from UC Davis and hit the ground running. Now he helps maintain this popular and family-run Woodinville winery destination.
The tasting room is open daily from 11-5 pm and you could easily make a full day affair of a visit. Beautiful gardens surround the winery and beg to be explored. Bocce ball beckons too. Or you can hit the catwalks and watch the winemaking magic unfold in person. On the weekends you can enjoy oven-fired, handmade pizza as well. Other dishes are regularly available to be paired with whatever wine you want with an in house chef at the ready.
It would take longer than one lifetime to truly appreciate the depth and breadth of wines available in the Seattle area, let alone in the state of Washington as a whole. Each year the state further entrenches itself as a major player in New World wines as new and innovative wineries and tasting rooms enter the market. Places like SODO Urban Works and The Tasting Room have even made it possible for smaller craft wines to reach the mainstream.
With all of this choice, it does help to have some direction. Not all wineries are created equal and some winemakers are still honing their craft. All of the wineries on this list are time tested, some with over half a century in the business. They all have loyal followings of raving fans, well-deserved accolades, and a reputation for quality. Of course, half the fun of a winery rich region like Seattle is exploration.
This list highlights some of the best wineries in and around Seattle but things change. These titans aren’t likely to fall from grace anytime soon but other spectacular wineries are slowly rising to the forefront. It is worth the time and risk to try a few of them out. This guide should get you started on the adventure of enjoying wine in the Seattle region, but the rest is up to you!
Bonus tip: Follow along with one Seattle based vlogger as she shows you how to enjoy a citywide wine tasting on a budget!