Destination: Wine

The Best Wineries to Visit in Woodinville

The epicenter of Western Washington wine overflows with vintners. Here are the ones to try now.

By Sean P. Sullivan

Bordeaux-style wines meet picnic priorities at Matthews Winery.

Image: Brandon Hill

Western Washington's epicenter of wine dates back to the 1970s. Today, change is sweeping the area, from new tasting districts to the uncertain future of Chateau Ste. Michelle. In other words, Woodinville has lots of exciting new developments, but also some reasons to return, time and again, to taste.

Hollywood District /  Warehouse District /  Downtown and Woodin Creek Village / Eastern Washington Outposts

Hollywood District

Betz Family Winery

Now firmly in its third 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 tasing room is currently only open to members of the winery’s list.

Chateau Lill

Greg Lill has reclaimed the estate-style building that once housed his original winery, DeLille Cellars. Today it’s a scenic hub for weddings and events, but also conducts tastings of wines sourced from other well-known local wineries, but poured under Chateau Lill’s label. In warmer months, tastings happen in the garden, or you can stroll the property, glass in hand.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Yes, some or all of this wine region’s foundational chateau is potentially up for sale, but the winery is committed to its 2023 concert calendar season. And, uncertainty aside, it remains a wonderful place to visit in Woodinville. 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.

DeLille Cellars

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.

DeLille Cellars offers rooftop tastings. 

Gorman Winery

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. 

Guardian Cellars

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. 

Jaine Cottage

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 wines are fresh and direct, seeing no new oak, with a tasting room that’s appropriately bright and cozy. 

The Jaine Cottage is all about white, rosé, and sparkling wine.

Image: Brooke Fitts

Mark Ryan Winery

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. This year, the tasting room will relocate to a new building on the campus of the former Redhook Brewery.

Matthews Winery

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. The winery recently brought in a new winemaking team from Quilceda Creek.

Novelty Hill–Januik

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. 

Sparkman Cellars

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.

Warehouse District

Avennia Wine

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. Recently the winery has added some Red Mountain offerings to its repertoire.

Callan Cellars

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 Cellars

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. 

Damsel Cellars

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. 

Mari Womack in her recently updated Woodinville tasting room.

JM Cellars

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.

Kevin White Winery

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.  A new tasting room offers a gently upgraded experience.

Lobo Hills

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. 

Passing Time Winery

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. 

Pomum Cellars/Idlico

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. 

Quiddity Wines

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.

Giant chess (and regular-size pours) at Quiddity Wines.

Image: Brooke Fitts

Sightglass Cellars

Sean Boyd, previously the longtime winemaker at Woodinville Wine Cellars, excels with stainless steel–aged sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as cultishly good red wines. 

Two Vintners

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. 

W.T. Vintners

Winemaker by day, accomplished sommelier by training, 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. 

W.T. Vintners winemaker Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen and, in his tasting room, the vending machine of our dreams.

Downtown and Woodin Creek Village

Baer Winery

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. Heads up: The winery has another tasting room in the Warehouse District.

Brian Carter Cellars

This winery, now open in the new-ish Woodin Creek Village, 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. 

More Great Woodinville Tasting Rooms

Can’t make it to Walla Walla? Plenty of wineries from Eastern Washington have set up satellite locations around here.

Walla Walla–based Long Shadows added this outpost on our side of the mountains.

  • Long Shadows Great wine in a handsome tasting room.
  • Fidelitas Wines One of the new occupants of the former Redhook Brewery campus.
  • Bookwalter Winery The Tri-Cities–area winery is known for its high-end reds and whites.
  • L’Ecole No 41 The stalwart added its first non–Walla Walla tasting room in downtown Woodinville.
  • Valdemar Estates Part of Walla Walla’s impressive new guard also has a downtown location.
  • Pepper Bridge Another great high-end Walla Walla winery set up shop behind the Hollywood Schoolhouse.

MethodsTo 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. 

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