For over 35 years, Brian Carter has been mixing it up: Old World traditions with Northwest fruit, 6 Washington AVAs with 12 different vineyards, and complex wine blends combined with the casual, friendly atmosphere of a little yellow tasting room in Woodinville’s Hollywood District.
Wine is that rare drink that needs no accompaniment. No surprise then that some of the most common wine descriptors relate to food: chewy, jammy or buttery, to name just a few. That said, who would argue that the right nosh brings out the best in a fine wine? Winemakers, of course, know this only too well, which is why the best ones offer delicious bites of their own, or position themselves conveniently close to great eateries. And we’re not talking about only fancy or filling, included are simple, flavorful morsels that add volumes to any wine-tasting experience.
When Darren Des Voigne opened Woodinville’s Des Voigne Cellars a decade ago, he had more than wine on his mind. Like many boutique winemakers, Des Voigne also had a growing love for craft beer. Why not create great wines and beer under one roof? Now, state laws have finally allowed him to fulfill his vision. In keeping with the jazz theme of his winery, Des Voigne recently opened B Side Brewing, a delicious microbrewery that lives and breathes side-by-side with his acclaimed winery. A trip to Des Voigne will leave any visitor wondering why no one has paired the production of these two before.
The abundance of fine wines now produced and purveyed in Woodinville has reached a level that’s both impressive and dizzying. It’s a deliciously enviable quandary that cries out for a helpful guide. And while wine country is never short of self-ordained connoisseurs sharing their critiques, few wine enthusiasts have the hard-earned experience and credentials to be called a true expert. It’s only fitting that Willows Lodge, Woodinville’s gold-rated Condé Nast resort, should be home to one of the best. Cara De Lavallade, the wine director for Willows and its award-winning Barking Frog restaurant, possesses a truly educated palate that recently earned its stripes the hard way.
Over the last three decades, Woodinville has grown from a sleepy Eastside suburb into an internationally renowned center for finely crafted beverages of every type. Home to over 80 wineries that have achieved a 90+ rating, this area is now widely regarded as one of the world’s premier wine destinations. In a region so ripe with tasting opportunities, the question naturally becomes how best to enjoy it all in your own time and at your own pace without breaking the bank. In other words, how do you make the most of your tasting travels through this lush land of flavors?