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Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Tucson, Arizona
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Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

My wife and I are considering a trip to the Washington/Oregon/Idaho area next summer for about 2 weeks. We would probably fly into either Portland or Seattle, depending on the best air fares, then rent a car, make a circular tour and then leave from that same airport.

We are particularly interested in visiting some of the wineries in the area, but we would also love to spend some time in some in some higher altitude, cooler areas where we could do some hiking and fishing and view some great scenery. We are much more the outdoor kid of people rather than being interested in museums, etc. We would also much rather stay in cottages or cabins, where we can cook a lot of our own meals and just relax, rather than hotels or resorts. We don't want to be driving long distances every day - would prefer to have a few longer days of driving and then stay in one place for a few days before moving on.

Does this seem like a doable trip and if so, any suggestions on a rough route to take? I am also posting this on the Oregon and Idaho forums.

Green Valley...
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1. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

I replied on the OR forum.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Its a fabulous tour idea. Of course, the grape growing and wine producing regions are situated in rural areas (many quite near metropolitan areas) and all in the northwest are ringed by mountains, high deserts, rivers and lakes. If you tour wine country you will not be able to avoid the other activities you want to pursue!

Wine tourism is a big business here. Most of it is trending 'upscale', so many of the rustic accommodations that may have been available in the past have gone the way of passenger pigeon. Not to worry, with some careful planning, you can have your down-home and still get your wine on.

Of the three wine producing states, Washington is the largest and the best (that is, until you talk to our Oregon friends.) From Seattle, the major wine producing areas of Yakima and Wall Walla are east, across the Cascade mountain range. The mighty Columbia river threads through eastern Washington. The Yakima and Snake rivers, their tributaries and surrounding reservoirs are all prime fishing grounds in season. Trout, including steelhead, and salmon are the major fisheries. Reaches of the Columbia produce Stergeon.

Also, though few grapes are actually grown there, the Seattle suburb of Woodinville has a large concentration of wine producers worthy of a day's visit.

The major Idaho wine producing region is around Caldwell on highway 84. (http://www.idahowines.org) I don't know what our friends in Montana have to say, but the folks in the Caldwell region seem to think they have some fly fishing around there. :)

The Oregon major wine region is centered on the massive Willamette valley. The northern end is just 20 minutes west of Portland around McMinnville and Dundee. From there, it stretches south to Salem. Heading further south, the Umpqua and Rouge River regions have been our favorite (until recently virtually undiscovered) regions for fine wine and unparalleled scenic beauty.

The Columbia river defines the border between Washington and Oregon at its southern reach toward the ocean. The lower Columbia gorge and valleys are spectacular landscape and a unique wine producing region centered roughly around Hoodsport on the Oregon side and Lyle on the Washington side. The mouth of the White Salmon river off the Columbia it prime Salmon fishing territory in season.

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Yakima area: The Yakima valley is quite large. If you include the Tri-cities, it's nearly 2 hour's drive end-to-end. From Seattle, you will head east on I-90 to Ellensburg, then south on I-84. In Ellensburg you can detour onto the gorgeous Yakima Canyon Scenic Byway SR-821 instead of I-84. It will add 1/2 hour to your travel time and years to your life. You'll actually take more time than the 1/2 hour due to the excellent year-round sport fishing and its sterling catch-and-release trout fishing.

Though Yakima is profoundly rural, it is the home of industrial agriculture on a massive scale, so the rural is a bit further off the main road through the region. You may want to look around the tiny hamlet of Tieton for a rental to base a 2 - 3 day stay in the valley. I've not stayed at this particular place, but the following link may give you an idea: https://m.airbnb.com/listings/1604202

Visit wineyakimavalley.org for info in the wineries in the region.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Walla Walla is a huge, and fast growing wine producing region. You cannot visit there often enough to keep up with the new wineries sprouting out of the gneiss. The town us quite up-scale. The locals think very highly of themselves for a berg so far out in the sticks - Walla Walla the town they like so well they named it twice. :)

With upscale wineries - be sure to visit Basel cellars and learn the story behind it as a morality tale on wreched excess - comes upscale lodging spreading all the way to the Blue Mountains.

I'd recommend a cabin rental in the beautiful Umatilla National Forest, but its too remote to be a practical base for wine touring with the closest entry at Pomeroy, over an hour away. Do some searching for something in the valley that hasn't been converted into a too-precious country-kitsch B&B. This might give you an idea: flipkey.com/walla-walla-cottage-rentals/…

Visit www.wallawallawine.com for up-to-date winery info.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Columbia Gorge: Heading west out of Walla Walla on highway 12 will take you toward the Columbia river below the Tri-cities. Turn south at the junction with highway 730, and dip into Oregon at Umatilla. Head west on fast I-84, or better yet scenic highway 14 on the Washington side along the lower Columbia Gorge to the Lyle - Bingen / Hood River area. (Parked pickups along the highway shoulder are giveaways for local fishing holes.) Any of these towns will serve as an overnight base for exploring the wineries on both sides of the river. We like staying at the funky Lyle Hotel. Maybe you can walk across the railroad tracks and toss a line onto the Columbia after dinner.

Port Angeles, WA
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6. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

This is a wonderful idea, but I have to add two cautions. You mention that you are looking for cooler temps. You won't find them in Eastern Washington in the summer, particularly not in Yakima, which is absolutely broiling in the summer, and Walla Walla, which also gets very hot. My other caution is that you can't just depend on TripAdvisor to plan a trip like this. There are so many choices, so much to do, and so much ground to cover, that you would be overwhelmed by an almost infinite number of variations on your itinerary. Get several guidebooks to see what this vast region offers, both in terms of wine and in terms of magnificent mountain scenery, and come up with a rough itinerary. Then work with the TripAdvisor posters to refine the details.

Spokane, Washington
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7. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

I would suggest Lake Chelan for everything you're interested in doing.

Chelan is a charming town, I think you'd like it better then the Yakmia area for what you have in mind.

23 wineries at last count, lots of grape orchards a huge lake and hiking in the north Cascades.

Take the Lady of the lake boat to Stehekin stay all night in the lodge and hike to your hearts content.

www.lakechelan.com

www.washingtonwine.org

www.lakechelan.com/stehekin

Collie

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Yes, Lake Chelan is a terrific area on the southern edge of the North Cascades. After years of near-complete obsurity as a wine producing area with a lone winery carrying the torch, apple orchards all along the lake are being razed and grapes planted. Wineries are popping up all along the southern perimiter, some decidedly better than others. The 50+ mile boat trip up this glacially carved 1400+ foot deep (!) lake is an iconic Northwest experience. The north end of the lake at Stehekin is the start of the mind-bogglingly rugged and vast North Cascades National Park wilderness. Its always a start to see long-distance backpackers, as gaunt and sunburned as war refugees, appear out of nowhere, decending from the Pacific Crest Trail to recuperate and reprovision before (or after) tackling the Ptarmigan Traverse.

Spokane, Washington
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9. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

Well put Ray.

Thanks for the addition.

Collie

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: Washington/Oregon/Idaho Winery Trip

#6 kaleberg

Spot on.