3 Washington Wine Valleys to Add to Your Fall Road Trip Plans

With autumn right around the corner, we’ve started daydreaming about fall activities. Topping that list for us in Washington is wine tasting. Washington has over 1,000 wineries, 400 grape growers, and 60,000 acres of wine grapes, making it second only to California in wine producing states.

In Washington, harvest season begins around the end of August and lasts until about Thanksgiving. That means you have three months for a picturesque autumn wine tasting trip. Wherever you’re planning on heading from Seattle, you can add a vineyard visit to your fall trip. Here are 3 areas with wine tasting galore, plus where to stay and where to head next.

Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan vineyard views (Photo Credit: ideadad)

The wine valley of Lake Chelan lies at the edge of North Cascades National Park. The top varieties in this appellation are Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Merlot. With over 30 vineyards and 30 tasting rooms, plus fine dining and a plethora of hiking trails, you won’t run out of things to do. Visit in early October for the Lake Chelan Crush Festival and get the full harvest season experience. 

Where to Stay

When staying in Chelan, our go-to is Cheval Cellars. The owners of this working orchard and vineyard offer tours and tastings at their winery, and the location is a great starting point for hiking or biking.

Cabana Pro Tip

Cheval Cellars is on Hipcamp for $50 a night, but it’s also available on Harvest Hosts. A Harvest Hosts membership is $99 annually and grants you access to their nationwide network of unique places to stay overnight (like wineries, breweries, and farms). Instead of paying for the night’s stay, it’s standard to support the host’s business by purchasing some of their products. If you find yourself gravitating towards unique campsites over standard forest roads, a Harvest Hosts membership will probably pay for itself in 3 nights. 

Road Trip Route

Because Chelan is a stop on the popular road trip route the Cascade Loop, it’s an ideal addition to a longer adventure. The area is about 4.5 hours from Seattle, so it can make for a nice long weekend destination on its own as well. 

Yakima Valley

Fall farm haul (Photo Credit: @monascherie)

There are quite a few AVAs in the larger Columbia Valley area worth visiting. As the first federally recognized wine growing valley in the PNW, Yakima Valley is a sensible place to start. In Yakima Valley you’ll find the top varieties to be Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Syrah. There are 120 wineries in Yakima Valley to choose from. Plus, pick up a farm fresh pie and visit a pumpkin patch.

Where to Stay

Like many wine valleys, this is another area where you’ll really get your money’s worth with a Harvest Hosts membership. Our favorite overnight stop is Wildridge Vineyard, Winery, and Distillery.

Relax in your Cabana (Photo Credit: @lokokitchen)

Road Trip Route

At roughly 3 hours from Seattle, it’s easy to make a case for a weekend in Yakima Valley. If you’re planning to cover a bit more ground, you just so happen to pass through Yakima Valley on your way to Utah. Visit Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and/or Capitol Reef, then finish off your desert exploration with a day or two of cozy fall activities in Yakima. It’s an ideal distance for a final night of fun and to make it back to Seattle for an 11am checkout. 

Where Will Unlimited Mileage Take You? 3 Desert Road Trip Destinations for Winter

Walla Walla

Late autumn at the vineyard (Photo Credit: Oleg Demakoy)

We could never make a wine tasting list without mentioning Walla Walla. This AVA has the highest concentration of wineries in the state. Red wine lovers will be pleased by this area’s top varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. You’ll enjoy wine tasting and delicious dining featuring local produce all autumn long. If you’re planning to visit Walla Walla, mark your calendar for their Fall Release Weekend, November 5-7. This is your chance to be the first to enjoy (and take home) this season’s new wines.

Where to Stay

For a wine-filled night in downtown Walla Walla, book a spot at Blue Valley RV Park. It’s not scenic like staying at a vineyard, but the location for tasting rooms and dining options cannot be beat. For a more relaxed vineyard stay, we’re again heading to Harvest Hosts, which has a few ideal locations for a night in the Walla Walla area. Why not do a night of each?

Road Trip Route

If you have big dreams of Big Sky Country, Walla Walla is a good end to an eastern adventure. Loop around through Spokane, visit Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, and head into Montana for Bozeman and Big Sky. In the northwest corner of Wyoming, spend time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. After all that nature, reminisce about your trip over a glass in Walla Walla before heading back to Seattle. (Your route can look something like this.)

Wine tasting haul -- you might want to box your precious cargo up for the drive, though! (Photo Credit: @lokokitchen)

If you’re tasting your way through WA this fall, don’t forget the Washington beer scene! Here’s What You Need to Know for Washington Oktoberfests in 2021.

Latest Posts