I can’t remember how I stumbled onto Cave B Inn’s website, but I’m sure glad I did. I was searching the internet for places to go for the weekend, and saw some advertisements for special wine events happening around Washington Wine Country. And somehow I came across Cave B, a brand new gorgeous Inn, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, on the other side of the “pass” from Seattle. Cave B Inn, a brand new facility that just opened less than a year ago, was built on the site of a fairly young vineyard (which has two labels – Cave B and Sagecliffe). It was settled. I love wine and I love getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city on our weekend getaways, so I booked the reservation. The only room still available however, was a two bedroom “cliffehouse”, a free-standing cabin, absolutely beautiful… but more space than we really needed… and more pricy than we needed too, but it’s all that was available, and I was already sold on the idea.
We left Friday afternoon, and hit the highway out of Seattle at around 3 p.m. I don’t know how long a straight shoot there would have taken, because we stopped at the Outlet Mall enroute to pick up extra warm clothing at the Eddie Bauer. They were having their end-of-season clearance sales, all sweaters $9.99! So I got four. Enough to last all weekend. Also picked up a super cute knit cap at the Nike outlet.
And then we stopped for dinner as well, so by the time we got to Cave B, the sun had set long ago and it was about 8 p.m. Here’s your first tip: go for the valet parking when you arrive! The parking lot is a trek from the main building, and it was freezing, and pitch black out (as I mentioned, it is in the middle of nowhere) so valet parking is really the only way to go. Especially if you are not staying in the main building. Valet parking is free (of course you have to tip though). Check in was easy (they even knew who we were… sort of… they called My SO (significant other) by my last name… which it’s not his of course, and they mangled it… but at least they tried, and I think that makes it more of a special place since they’re not so big and impersonal like a huge resort or hotel. The lobby of the main building was absolutely gorgeous with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows and beautiful well appointed art and furniture.
The valet was eager to help and very pleasant. The front desk staff was less than friendly (which we noticed on both our dealings with them, when checking in and also when checking out… they don’t smile… which makes them appear pretentious but could indicate nervousness or newness to the job, just perhaps learning how everything works…
After checking in, the valet loaded the bags from our car into his little Prius and drove us to our cliffehouse, helped us in with our bags, showed us around the place, then received his tip and off he went. Very helpful and pleasant young person! Again, when checking in, highly recommend doing the valet as opposed to parking yourself. However, when checking out, you can pull your car down yourself once you know the terrain, which seems easier than waiting for the valet along with everyone else.
The room was gorgeous. I absolutely fell in love with the layout and décor. Fireplace centrally located, gas, turns on with just a quick switch on the wall, and can be viewed and heats up from both living room area and master bedroom area. There is also a flat screen t.v. on a pivoting stand on top of the fireplace mantle which can swivel to be watched from either the living area or master bedroom. Also a dvd player accessible from the master bedroom side of the mantle. A picture tells a thousand words they say, so check out the pics of the room to see what I’m talking about. The bathroom was lovely, with a separate shower stall, deep tub, and separate toilet room. Toilet room when the door is shut feels like you’re in a closet… they didn’t really try to hard to decorate this tiny room… it would have been nice to have a picture on the wall or something because it really does not fit with the rest of the place since it’s so barren in there.
There were lots of towels and the soap was lovely. Towel rack was broken, which we reported the next morning after we arrived, and it was not fixed before we left.
There was also the extra bedroom which was pretty dull except the bedframe was gorgeous. We used this room for our luggage and changing, so we could keep the window blinds open… which brings me to the best part about this place… the view!
Since it was pitch black when we arrived, we didn’t get to appreciate the view till the morning, when the sun first kissed the rolling hills across the gorge. Then you appreciately the wall of window across the backside of the cliffehouse. Absolutely breathtaking! I’ll leave it at that. Trying to describe the view would be an effort in futility, so check the pics. The great thing about staying in a cliffehouse instead of the main inn is that you have peace, quiet, and a better view. There is also an outdoor deck which you can get to from three different doors along the back of the cliffehouse wall of window, with patio chairs and a small table just big enough for a bottle of wine and two glasses. Of course, when we went it was pretty much the coldest weekend of the year, so we didn’t hang out on the patio much… just for one quick photo op…
Saturday morning we had our first taste of the restaurant at the Cave B Inn, Tendrils. Unfortunately, this was a disappointment. I’m an omelet person, and there was only one omelet option on the menu, which happened to contain an ingredient I don’t care for (I think it was sundried tomatoes) and My SO is not an egg person – he likes pancakes or French toast… which neither were on the menu. I wound up doing the a la carte menu, where you can order an egg cooked to your liking, hash browns, and bacon. Egg was undercooked, bacon was undercooked, hashbrowns had no flavor. My SO got the granola. However, the views and artwork at the restaurant are fantastic, as was the service. Our waitress was attentive, smiled a lot, and very helpful. I asked about a leaf that had been placed on the side of My SO’s bowl of granola, and she inquired in the kitchen about it (which we did not ask her to do) and found out it was a lemon leaf, edible, but bitter, so they don’t recommend eating it. Extremely polite and helpful, lovely young person!
After breakfast, we went back to our room to soak up the view for a few more minutes, then gathered up our supplies for the day and took the hike to our vehicle through the vineyard. We spent the day wine tasting, but really did more driving than tasting. I’ve been told there are over 400 wineries now in Washington State, but as far as we can tell, they are still fairly spread out in that particular area. We decided to start our wine tasting at the furthest point from Cave B, then work our way back, and make our last tasting at our “home” vineyard.
We first checked out the brand new Columbia Cascade Winery Association’s Wine Experience where they have tastings for a rotating 3 wineries at a time. This was about an hour’s drive from Cave B. While we were there, we did the wine/chocolate pairing with wines from Jones of WA, Eagle Creek, and Benson wineries. We found them to all be just o.k., we weren’t really excited about any of them… we really enjoyed the chocolate raspberry truffle though! This was a lovely wine tasting room, and they had lots of other wines for sale as well (I’m guess all the wines that are members of this particular association) but since we hadn’t tasted any of the other ones, we decided not to buy any there either. The wine tasting was $5 per person. I think this place is great for all the wineries who are members, but especially for those that are too small to have their own tasting rooms open regularly. The tasting room is in the same building as a big antique shop, so if you’re into antiques and wine, this place would be super cool for you to visit! P.S. I realized after the fact that there are probably lots of other wineries in the area that are just not members of this particular association (duh!), so don’t let that be your only guide to wineries for this area. We did, but we only did one day touring wineries, and did not even put a dent in the membership list.
Next we drove over to Chateau Faire Le Point Winery which is more of a winery than a vineyard. I saw a few vines outside, but most of their grapes they get from other vineyards. The location is not very pretty here, but the inside décor was very pleasant. In fact, they rent out their facilities for weddings, and we got there in the middle of prep time for one, and I felt a bit in the way with all the groomsmen and bridesmaids circling around and winery staff running around preparing everything. But the lady who hosted our wine tasting (who also happened to be the event planner) was very pleasant and helpful and insisted on giving us a tour of the facility. We even got a glimpse of the owners’ dogs which are usually out and about to greet tasters but were unfortunately locked up because of the wedding. Apparently dogs and weddings don’t go well together. Poor puppies! They looked really cute though. As far as the wine tasting, we both enjoyed the 2004 Pinot Noir (my favorite type of wine) and My SO sprung for a bottle (~$25) I also enjoyed the big finale of an ice wine (I’ve never had ice wine before). This one was ’04 Vin de Glace and our tasting was served to us in miniature chocolate cups (edible of course). The wine was super sweet, sort of reminded me (don’t laugh) of wine coolers I used to drink in my younger years. Lots of fruit… pineapple/peach/apricot. It was tasty, but may have been affected by the chocolate cup (scrumptious of course!) The tasting cost was $5 per person.
Somewhere along the way here, we stopped and made our lunch - sandwiches with fixins we had brought from home for this purpose. We wanted to make sure we were eating enough so we wouldn’t get tipsy from the wine tasting!
Next we went to Martin-Scott Winery. A small winery that has their tasting room in the downstairs of their home. Beautiful location, but they were pretty much out of their red wine. Apparently they didn’t realize there would be so much demand for their wine so were not prepared. The owner/wine tasting room hostess was very pleasant and asked if we wanted to try the whites, but since we both knew it would be wasted on us, we told her not to waste it. We should have called first, oh well. She does have a lovely facility there that is available to rent for weddings and other events, with a lovely back yard and view of the gorge. I’m sure it’s breathtaking in the summer.
Then, believe it or not, it was time to get back to Cave B so as not to miss out on their tasting room hours. We got there just before 5 p.m. and boy are we glad we got there in time! This wine tasting turned out to be the best of the day. Even though we were staying at the Inn, we had not yet tasted Cave B or Sagecliffe wine, and we were very much impressed. Our pourer/host(what do you call these folks?) Cameron was a lovely young person and knowledgeable. He answered all my silly questions (they’re all estate wines… which means they are all made on site from grapes on site…. everything is on site… hence the name estate wine… I never knew that… so I’m learning… anyway…) We tasted both Cave B wines and also Sagecliffe wines. I learned that Sagecliffe is a non-profit association, and $2 from every sale of Sagecliffe wine goes to the association. Turns out we liked most of the Sagecliffe varieties more than the Cave B ones. In particular, we both loved the Sagecliffe 2004 Semillon – I know, it’s white, and I liked it, go figure! We also loved the Sagecliffe 2003 Merlot. But we liked the Cave B brand as well, in particular, really enjoyed the 2002 Cave B Cabernet Sauvignon. We also had a tasting of the applesauce which they just started producing, and is made solely from ingredients on the farm as well. Delicious! So we purchased a few bottles of wine, plus the applesauce. While we were wrapping things up, Rusty… the crusty character who is the winemaker of all these fabulous wines, showed up after finishing up a private tour. He was a pleasure to meet, and was so gracious, he even signed one of our wine bottles! There are pics of My SO and I taking turns holding the bottle. According to our wine tasting host Cameron, Rusty was born a winemaker – his father was also in the business, and he’s been doing it most of his life. If you go there, I would recommend taking the tour of the vineyards, just for a chance to meet Rusty! I’m sure that would be a treat to go on the tour with him. We’re thinking of going back when the grapes are on the vines and doing a tour then.
So then we hurried back to our cliffehouse to discover we hadn’t timed our return home quite right… unfortunately we missed the sunset over the gorge! It had occurred during our fabulous wine tasting next door at the winery. Darnit! This spot is ideal for watching the sunset, and unfortunately that was the only chance we had on this particular trip. We’re already planning a trip back, however, so we’ll be sure to catch the sunset next time. Next time I believe we’re going to try to get a cavern room – a different sort of structure, built right on the cliff, and offers a different perspective of the spectacular view.
A side note here – if you are interested in going during the summer months, book now! Apparently this place is really hopping in the summer, most especially on concert weekends (when there are concerts right next door at the Gorge Ampitheatre) and I heard a rumor that the musicians/artists may be staying there those weekends which could possibly make it impossible to get in those weekends. Also, the price goes up dramatically during concert weekends.
Anyway, back to the sunset. We officially missed the sunset, but there was still light, and we relaxed and enjoyed the fading light, along with some brie and crackers (brought from home and kept in the mini-fridge in the room) and we popped the cork on the Cave B Cabernet Sauvignon. Lovely. During breakfast that day, we had made a reservation for dinner at the restaurant, and they were already booked solid until 8 p.m., so we relaxed and enjoyed our pre-dinner snack and drink. Then we got ready for dinner.
O.k., so… dinner. I was really looking forward to this. We arrived promptly at 8 p.m. for our dinner reservation. We were told it would be a few minutes. 20 minutes later we were seated. 5 minutes after that we met our waitress. At this point I was starting to get sleepy, hungry, and cranky. But more sleepy than anything else. My normal bedtime was approaching. I ordered coffee. The menu is short, and in some cases, this could mean that everything on the menu is fabulous. Here’s the thing. Cave B Inn & Winery is kinda out of the way, away from the main town of quincy, and there’s no cooking options in the rooms (no microwave, stove, etc.) so they kinda have a corner on the market for where you eat when you stay there. The restaurant is highly acclaimed and a bit pricey. I found it over rated. However, I think that if you’re into organic, natural foods, and northwest cuisine, that you’ll probably love it. It just seemed kind of bland to me. My SO didn’t really care for it either. So I ordered the soup (sausage/veggie soup) and it was very bland with one piece of yucky looking sausage floating in a very watery broth. My SO got a salad and the beef. He said the beef was a bit grissly. And for these prices, grissly is not a word that should ever be uttered here. If you’re into wine, buy it at the winery, not at the restaurant, because at the winery the wine is $20-25, and at the restaurant it’s $40… and that’s the only brand of wine you can get at the restaurant. In retrospect, I wish I had tried their desserts because they did sound interesting, but I was so dissapointed at that point I just wanted to go back to our lovely cliffehouse and finish our bottle of fantastic wine. Which we did. And then fell asleep.
The next morning, I awoke to the beautiful sunrise again, with the early morning light kissing those rolling hills across the gorge. Absolutely beautiful. I may have mentioned before that it was super cold this particular weekend, but gloriously beautifully sunny nonetheless. I read in the binder that is in the room about the hiking trail that leads all the way down to the water, so I talked My SO into doing that after breakfast, before checking out.
This time we went to breakfast and got the “main event” on the menu, the Sagecliffe breakfast – which consists of eggs, breakfast breads, toast “points”, and cut fruit (My SO told them to “hold” the eggs.) They still undercooked my eggs, even when I told them I wanted them cooked “hard”. Breakfast breads were a mini-croissant, a mini-cinamon roll, and a mini-muffin. The muffin was ginger/lemon. Way too much ginger for my taste, but if you really love ginger, can’t get enough ginger, then you’ll love the ginger/lemon muffin. I hated the “toast points” which is the only toast option at this place and “point” means a really tiny piece of hard bread. This is the same “bread” you get served at dinner as well. And if you order toast on the a la carte menu. That’s it. No wheat, rye, pumpernickel, sourdough, or any other white bread for that matter. Just toast points. So if you love toast points, you’re in luck. I’m a bread-lover, so this was disappointing. Coffee was great! And so was the service. The young ladies that work as waitresses and hostesses at the restaurant are extremely helpful and pleasant and attentive. And did I mention the art, décor, and view at the restaurant are all fabulous? I really really love Cave B, but I’m just trying to write honestly about my experience with the restaurant. I know this place is fairly new, so perhaps the restaurant will improve. Here’s hoping.
Next time I plan to try to bring breakfast items with us as well, and perhaps veture out into the town of Quincy for dinner.
O.k., so then the hike! We slipped out the back door of our cliffehouse and made our way to the trailhead just a short walk down the path. From up at our cliffehouse, we didn’t realize quite what a long way down it is to the water. Perhaps a warning of trail length/estimated time would be helpful to add to the note in the binder regarding the hike. Anywho, we started down the trail and were on the look out for rattlers (in the binder it mentioned to be on the look out for rattlesnakes and to stay away from them… but we didn’t encounter any… perhaps hibernating?) As we started down, we passed a few folks on their way back up, huffing and puffing (it’s a lot harder going back uphill!) but then pretty soon we were all alone in the middle of nowhere. Spectacular view, awe-inspiring, breath-taking. Words can not describe. See the pics! I can’t wait to see all this again in the summer. However, in the heat of the summer, the hike we took will be even more strenuous (and it was not a cake-walk this time either!) We started getting worried about making it back in time for check-out time at noon, but our goal came into view, so we rushed down and made it to the waters edge finally. When we arrived at the waters edge, we encountered a strange sight – a 40’s style old broken down rusted and very beat up old car. We took pics. We have no clue how this vehicle could have possibly got down there. Even if it went straight over the side of the cliff, we don’t think it would have made it all the way to the water’s edge, which is quite a hike from the cliff. We asked at the front desk during check out, but they didn’t have a clue about it.
So we did in fact make it back in time for check out. I said a sad reluctant goodbye to our lovely cliffehouse, and packed up the jeep (we actually hiked back up the cliff, AND to our car, then drove it down to our cliffehouse to pack up) then drove up to the main inn to check out. There was a line. There’s no express checkout available yet that I know of. Again, no smiling from the girls at the front desk, but perhaps it’s just nerves, learning new jobs. For some reason, all the front desk personnel seem to come off sort of snooty, but everyone else we encountered there was so pleasant (restaurant staff was lovely, as was the winery staff, and of course Rusty the winemaker!) While we were waiting in the lobby to checkout, the valet asked us if we needed any help, and I felt a tinge of guilt for not using him for checkout. He was very pleasant.
And then we hit the road. I loved my visit to Cave B and can’t wait to return!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.