There's plenty here to taste: A tart-and-lemony 2005 chardonnay ($15), a 2003 black cherry scented cabernet sauvignon ($17), a sweet, peach-flavored 2006 Muscat Cannelli dessert wine.
THE WINE TRAIL
A half-day drive east out of Woodinville takes visitors through the Cascade Mountains, past 14,000-foot Mt. Rainier, into the near-desert of Eastern Washington.
This is the Yakima Valley; stretching to the horizon are parched, treeless, shallow hills bearing beige dry grass. The valley itself is an artificial oasis -- a lush, green strip from one to five miles wide on both sides of the Yakima River. Here starts the Washington Wine Trail.
Two hours east is Richland, at the southern end of the Yakima Valley. Local winemaker Rob Griffin describes his Barnard Griffin Winery as ''a bootstrap, hardscrabble operation,'' but he's being coy. He makes 70,000 cases a year of wine and has a wall full of trophies.
He got the wine bug as a kid, visiting his uncle's farm in Napa, and got his wine degree from the top-rated enology program at the University of California's Davis campus. ''I love to make wine, but I drive marketers crazy because I make too many varieties for them to sell,'' Griffin says.
His wines are some of Washington's best: A tart-pear-flavored 2006 pinot gris ($17), a cranberry scented 2006 rose of sangiovese ($11), a mellow, mulberry-and-chocolate-flavored 2005 malbec ($35).
An hour closer to Walla Walla, a right turn on dusty Frog Hollow Road leads to a bit of France in Washington -- a lavender farm. Karen Grimaud majored in French in college, moved to France, married Frenchman Jean-Paul Grimaud and brought him back to Walla Walla. He became a professor of French at the local college. She took up the quintessentially French occupation of growing lavender.
Her two-acre patch in the bright sun and cool air is vivid with color and scent, alive with buzzing bees. Grimaud sells sachets and dried bouquets, plus alimentary-grade lavender for flavoring whipped cream, caramel or, with a good grinding of black pepper, a nice marinade for pork or lamb. She offers guests glasses of intriguingly scented lavender lemonade.
It's aromatic, tasty.
Walla Walla, Wash., pop. 30,000, is named for the Nez Perce word for ''many waters.'' Built first as a stopping-place for pioneers entering from Idaho on the trek West, the city today is an oasis of sophistication, in part because of Whitman College, which dominates the city.
It's quickly becoming a wine town, and vintage downtown buildings -- including a notorious 1800s brothel -- are being renovated into wine tasting rooms, jewelry stores, art galleries. Gourmet restaurants are springing up.
The wine-themed restaurant called 26 Brix (it's a term for describing the ripeness of grapes at picking), serves Dungeness crab cakes with a rich, local Dusty Valley chardonnay, or hangar steak with a smooth and powerful local Romus syrah.
Walla Walla is also an oasis of bed-and-breakfast mansions. Green Gables Inn, built in 1909, is a big old bungalow in the Craftsman style on an idyllic street lined with mammoth trees. Inside there's a huge, wood-beamed living room, and cozy bedrooms with homey, frou-frou quilts and curtains.
Basel Cellars, a few miles south of Walla Walla, is easily the fanciest winery in Washington. It was built for $14 million as a luxury resort in the style of the great national park lodges -- all open beams and log-bound glory, for only 18 guests. Later it became a winery.