With family in Seattle, I’m running out of new things to do and see on my own when I visit (or at least I think I am). After the Portland visit, I returned to Seattle this year for a quick two day visit to catch up with friends and family. The only problem was that said friends and family had work and other commitments so I needed to keep myself busy for one full day until everyone could meet for dinner. What to do? After the past six weeks of travel, I should have just slept all day in my cookie cutter beige Sheraton room but where’s the fun in that? I decided to try my luck with concierge roulette where I ask the concierge for his/her best option for a place and without much research and just go with it. I don’t do this much (I have control issues) but for my Seattle day tour, that’s how I ended up on the Winery & Waterfall Tour with Customized Tours.
At first, the concierge gave me the line I hear all the time “they don’t book singles, they have a minimum of two” but then called me later in the day to say that others had booked so I could join the tour. So my six hours would be spent at two wineries, lunch, Snoqualmie Falls and a stop for chocolate- not a bad way to spend the day especially if you are in Seattle pre/post cruise. The cost was $89 and did not include lunch or wine tasting fees.
The guide picked me up at the hotel and I had to laugh when I met the others as they were practically neighbors as they live in Wilmington, DE and a Philadelphia suburb -one lady was a high school alum (albeit twenty years before me). So my tour day started off on a good note with Philly folks who had just completed their Alaskan cruise. On this unusually hot, humid, July day, we had clear skies and a wonderful view of Mt. Rainier as we drove over the floating bridges on the way to the wineries. Due to a concert at the winery that day, we had to make the wine tastings our first stop rather than the last stop but I’m a champion of alcohol after breakfast (see my Jameson Whisky Experience).
Washington State Wineries
With our first stop in Woodinville, about 1/2 hour from Seattle, we would join others on a tour of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, the more famous of the area wineries. I’ve done many a wine tour over the past few years and it always nice to see the passion and pride the guides have with respect to the wines. We started walking through the history while the factory floor below hummed with wine bottle activity. Leading through to the storage vats, we learned of the many vineyards owned throughout the state and how the weather on either side of the mountains affects production. Our last stop had the guide walking us through the white and red tastings (included) before the tour concluded in the gift shop and another tasting room (fee) with an expanded selection available.
The next stop was a boutique winery, Novelty Hill and Januik. Here the production vats and process can be seen (and smelled) on your own from above. The tasting menu $7 for four wines provided a nice selection from both labels.
I had actually had dinner at the downtown Seattle Purple cafe the night before and was impressed by the design, service the many wine options as well as the food. For lunch, I had a sandwich and sadly took a wine break. The rest of the group varied with salads, entrees, pasta and sandwiches. It was nice to sit down for a chat. My meal with tip was $20.
Snoqualmie Falls is a popular tourist attraction not far from Seattle. You can simply enjoy the view of the 270 foot falls, hike in the 2 acre park or enjoy a picnic. There are a few observation points as well as informational boards to learn about the history. On the hot, humid day, viewing the falls provided a bit of relief but frankly I wanted to jump into the water or be close enough to feel the spray to cool down. We spent 1/2 hour to wander and take photos which is more than enough.
The chalet seemed a bit out of place off the highway but was the location of Boehm’s, a local candy maker. As it was late in the day (this is normally the first stop), the workers were done so we toured the shop floor where only a few staff remained but production was done for the day. The chocolate assembly line reminded me of the funny “I Love Lucy” scene. We would be given a small sample before our exit through the gift shop. On the way out, our guide asked about the tour and being from Philly we were brutally honest “we were disappointed with only one small sample”. Our guide said that we should have had at least 3 samples and shut the van off to go inside for our chocolate. As we shared the samples, we agreed “we would have bought more chocolate had we known it was this good”.
As we made our way back to Seattle, I was happy that my concierge roulette played out so well – I was full of wine and chocolate (never a bad thing) and had seen the nature that I love in the Pacific Northwest – waterfalls, mountains and a nice diversion along the way – horse farms and flower farms!
If you find yourself wanting to get out of Seattle for the day, do consider this version or your own version of Wine, Waterfalls and Chocolate – you can’t go wrong!