A Winolicious Week in Walla Walla

 

Walla Walla Washington is a bucolic farm town, home to some of the finest wines in the country, three colleges and has a special place in our hearts. Wally spent his college years at Walla Walla University getting his engineering degree (and mostly staying out of trouble) so it is always a walk down memory lane for him when we roll into town.

We celebrated Wally’s 50th birthday in Walla Walla eight years ago so it seemed like a fine place to celebrate our 25th Anniversary and spend time with friends during the Spring Wine Release Weekend. The Road House was parked at the Blue Valley RV Park, an easy bike ride into downtown Walla Walla which boasts over 30 wine tasting rooms. Downtown is small and quaint so plan some time shopping and strolling along Main Street.

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Downtown Walla Walla in the winter is quite festive too.

This farming community has really evolved over the last 25 years but the look and feel are still small town. No traffic jams, no road rage and a slower pace of living make it really attractive as a potential future place to live. But for now, we are in town to enjoy seeing friends, taste some great wines and celebrate our 25 years of mostly wedded bliss.

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The view from the patio at Garrison Creek Cellars

Walla Walla has long been known as one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the nation, producing such crops as wheat, asparagus, strawberries and the famous Walla Walla sweet onions. However, it’s as wine country that Walla Walla is most celebrated. With more than 120 wineries representing a wide range of varietals, we just keep coming back to see what’s new year after year.

First order of business is always a trip to the Ice-Burg Drive In for a burger, fries and a chocolate shake – guaranteed to put you into a food coma but oh, so delicious!!! The “Burg” is an institution in Walla Walla and it is always fun to chat with people at the communal outdoor tables and hear about their childhood memories of eating there.

 

 

While we are on the subject of restaurants, I am so impressed with the culinary scene these days in Walla Walla. We had a great anniversary dinner at Brasserie Four which is a small intimate French Bistro serving simple, elegant but unpretentious food. Chef/Owner Hannah MacDonald herself is originally from Walla Walla, but she moved to Paris for her first year of college. She lived with a French family full of extraordinary cooks, who helped her develop her love of food. She then made her way back to the states, where she graduated from Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR. She moved back to Walla Walla and opened Brasserie Four in 2008.

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Chef Hannah at work creating beautiful food.

Olive Market Place and Café is another great choice for lunch, whether you dine there in the old brick building or grab a box lunch to go and have a picnic at a local winery, you won’t be disappointed.

On our last night in Walla Walla the entire wine gang enjoyed a great meal at The Whitehouse Crawford which is an institution in Walla Walla. The building itself is a old brick warehouse that is listed on both the Washington Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places. I love the warehouse feel and the old mill equipment that still remains in the building.

We visited a lot of winery’s and drank some great wine, a few standouts for the week were Isenhower Cellars, Walla Walla Vintners, Maison Bleue and Garrison Creek Cellars which really is just the tip of the iceburg as far as great WW wineries. Dang, I guess we will just have to go back again!

 

Besides drinking great wine, Walla Walla has some great bicycling opportunities. Rural farm roads that meander through rolling wheat fields, Walla Walla is one of  Washington’s top road cycling destination. The nearby Blue Mountains offer experienced riders steep climbs and sharp turns to attack, while the flat lands and paved trails that run through Walla Walla’s historic neighborhoods and farmlands are perfect for when you just want to cruise. We opted for cruise mode taking an easy ride on the flat Mill Creek trail out to Bennington Lake which was an easy connection from the Blue Valley RV Park. This 7 mile ride was a small pre-emptive strike against the high calorie wine consumption day.

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The Mill Creek trail is a really pretty ride.

As usual, time flies when you are having fun. We had a great time with the wino gang which dates back to the late 90’s in Portland, Wally reconnected with two colleague buddies, plenty of great wine was consumed, tales were told, delicious meals eaten, there was only one minor head injury (not me, yay) and a general good time was had by all! Good-Bye for now Walla Walla.

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P.S….

Winolicious is really a word, one frequently used in my vocabulary especially when tasting wines but for those of you needing further confirmation – here ya go:

-licious

forming adjectives denoting someone or something as delightful or extremely attractive. “Winolicious”

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