If you're taking an extended tour of Washington's wineries, consider a trip to Walla Walla, which is in the southeastern corner of the state. A worthy stop on any wine-lover's itinerary, the area was named Best Wine Destination of the Year 2005 by Sunset Magazine.
Most famous for the legendary sweet variety of onions, Walla Walla is one of the oldest towns in the northwest. Today it's an energetic, culturally alive college community, with charming neighborhoods and a recently revived downtown dotted with wine tasting rooms, boutiques, restaurants and wine bars. Adding to the city's historic allure, the 1928 Marcus Whitman Hotel has recently been restored.
Framed by the Blue Mountains, the Walla Walla wine country is home to more than 60 wineries and a total of 1,200 acres of vineyards. The area is primarily known for its red wines-its Syrah and Bordeaux-style Cabs and Merlots have been getting high praise in the wine press recently. White wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris are also produced in the area.
Tours of the region should include a visit to striking Basel Cellars, with its handsome timbered winery surrounded by landscaped grounds, gardens, and-of course-vineyards. Cellars receiving enthusiastic nods by wine reviewers include Pepper Bridge Winery, with a tasting room that features gorgeous views of vineyards and the Blue Mountains, as well as Seven Hills Winery; located in downtown Walla Walla in an a century-old building that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you'd like a little art with your wine, take a look at Ash Hollow Winery, also in downtown Walla Walla, which displays works of local artists in its gallery. The winery was recently hailed by Decanter magazine for its Merlot.
If you wish to visit during harvest time, plan to go from mid-September through late October.