Now firmly in its second decade, Betz Family devotes itself to high-end Bordeaux and Rhône-style wines. The cabernet sauvignon is exquisite. Four syrahs showcase differences in the state’s best vineyards and appellations, while the grenache-heavy Besoleil drinks like a cup of fresh fruit. The winery made news when it announced it would not release wines from its 2020 vintage (due out mostly in 2022) due to smoke impact from wildfires, but visitors can still make an appointment to taste 2018 and 2019 offerings.
This winery dedicates itself to the art of blending. The flagship cabernet sauvignon–based Solesce is one for the cellar. That may not sound radical, but the winemaker here likes to experiment, exploring styles from Spain, Italy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, and beyond.
Throughout its run, Ste. Michelle has been the state’s leader in producing good wines at any price. A spot-on $12 bottle? A stunning single-vineyard sauvignon blanc? The winery has both. Its $10 Dry Riesling is easily the best value in the state if not the country. But the Chateau still carries our banner high.
Founded in 1962 by a group of friends (and now owned by California colossus Gallo), Columbia offers both widely available, entry-level wines and limited release, tasting-room-only treats. Its AVA series explores the state’s varied appellations.
Located in a sweeping new tasting room (with a patio) in the old Redhook brewery, DeLille is an unusually good environment for trying wine. But wherever you taste, the winery offers an embarrassment of riches. The Chaleur Blanc, a blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon, is reliably outstanding each year. Other gems in the crown include the Chaleur Estate, a full-bore expression of Red Mountain, and the Harrison Hill red wine, from some of the oldest vines in the state. A new adjacent restaurant, the Lounge at DeLille Cellars, comes with a full food menu.
When visiting Gorman Winery’s tasting room, you can plug in a guitar and play. Owner and winemaker Chris Gorman likes to crank the volume in the glass, too, with decadent Red Mountain reds and full-bodied, heady chardonnay.
Jerry Riener, Guardian’s owner, is a police officer who started spending all of his non-working hours volunteering at local wineries. In 2007, he opened Guardian and has helped epitomize Woodinville’s style: luscious and fruit-filled.
The team behind Matthews Winery launched this new project, which will ultimately focus on white, rosé, and sparkling styles (currently they pour whites and some red from Matthews). The name was inspired by proprietor Bryan Otis’s grandmother, Mary Jane. The wines are fresh and direct, seeing no new oak, with a tasting room that’s appropriately bright and cozy.
Winemaker Mark McNeilly made a name for himself in the early 2000s fashioning uniformly excellent red blends, with ripe fruit and hefty tannic structures, from esteemed Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain. He’s still at it; few do it better.
Matthews is one of the longest tenured wineries in Woodinville. Yes, with its “inspired by Bordeaux” tagline, you know cabernet sauvignon is important here, but the sauvignon blanc is also a standout.
Few have been producing wine in Washington longer than Mike Januik (first release: 1984). Fewer have his track record of excellence. Januik and its sister winery Novelty Hill make a wide selection—with notable cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. But the real story here is unrelenting consistency: You know it will be good.
This winery is known for its hedonistic releases, such as Bordeaux-style blends. But co-owner Chris Sparkman paints from a diverse palette, experimenting with everything from touriga nacional to sangiovese. In 2020, the winery moved its production and tasting room into the former Redhook Brewery building, a facility that accommodates events large and small, plus a spacious patio.
In just 10 years, Avennia has established itself as one of the state’s top wineries, dedicated to using old vine grapes and picking early, giving the releases a distinctly old-world, savory edge, but with plenty of fruit.
Since 2000, Baer has made two wines that epitomize classic Washington styles—the merlot and cabernet franc dominant Ursa and the cabernet driven Arctos. For a next step, try the rare (for here) unoaked chardonnay.
Winemaker Lisa Callan has made her mark thus far with whites, specifically picpoul and grenache blanc—brightly acidic varieties that charmingly depart from Woodinville’s big bold red idiom.
Cedergreen has been making wine since the early 2000s but only recently opened its first tasting room. Seek out a palate-coating, old-vine chenin blanc and the gamay noir, both rarities in this state.
Boushey Vineyard always grows some of the state’s best Rhône-style grapes. But to taste something truly transformative from that fruit, seek out Damsel winemaker Mari Womack’s blend, the Fates.
No Woodinville winery can match the JM Bramble Bump tasting room’s beauty, with its private, seven-acre arboretum, walking trails, and pond. The top-shelf wines—especially Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, and Walla Walla Valley reds—are just as pretty.
Owner and winemaker Kevin White’s day job allows him to offer the best quality-to-price wines in the state. But the word is out on his pure, fruit-driven wines. Some, such as the feels-like-stealing ‘Blue Label’ wine, can sell out in less than a week.
Winemaker Tony Dollar offers plenty of reds, but his fresh, vivacious whites most consistently grab attention, from a fruitful and honed sauvignon blanc to the one-of-a-kind (in this state) auxerrois.
Former NFL footballers Dan Marino and local Damon Huard teamed up with the outrageously talented Chris Peterson (Avennia) to create a series of appellation-specific cabernet sauvignons. The great wines prove this is no vanity project.
Rocket scientist turned winemaker Javier Alfonso was born in Sunnyside, Washington but raised in Spain. At Pomum, he works with more conventional Washington grapes. At Idilico, he explores the possibilities of the state's Spanish varieties.
Greg Pieker loves Rhône-style wines enough to make them the focus at Quiddity—a word for the essential nature of a thing. Pieker made his inaugural wines during an internship at the Northwest Wine Academy, and it appears he graduated at the top of his class. These are some of the most exciting new wines to be released in Washington in recent years.
Sightglass is a newcomer. Sean Boyd, once the winemaker at Woodinville Wine Cellars, is not. As he did there, Boyd excels with stainless steel–aged sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as cultishly good red wines.
Co-owner and winemaker Morgan Lee offers a lot of variety, but his Rhône-style wines always rise to the top, every year among the very best in the state. The Columbia Valley Syrah is a great value. So is the Make Haste Cinsault, which also happens to be one of the few cinsaults you’ll find in Washington. Lee has a vivid style, allowing the fruit and vineyards to shine.
Winemaker by day, sommelier at Seattle’s RN74 by night, Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen crafts vineyard-forward, food-friendly wines. He pulls the oak way back and deploys fruit picked earlier, when acids are still fresh and lively. The results are distinct, and distinctly excellent.
Methods: To compile this list, Sean P. Sullivan selected wineries based on the overall quality of their wines, focusing largely on those that are local to that area, versus satellite tasting rooms.