The beauty of Autumn in Washington State can be found within each turning leaf in the vineyards of Lake Chelan Wine Valley.
Nestled in a valley, Lake Chelan traverses approximately 55 miles along the green and rocky slopes of the Cascades and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Lake Chelan Valley enjoys almost 300 days of sunshine a year and those rays of sunlight along with the gorgeous water is a magnet for those seeking the Lake Life if even just for a weekend. The Valley is known for its ideal growing conditions for both apples and grapes. The unique glacial soil along with the agreeable climate in the Lake Chelan region have been a catalysis for optimal harvests of these crops. This makes for an abundance of wine and cider makers through the entire valley.
Over the last 20 years the Lake Chelan Valley has steadily been building up a faithful following of wine lovers as a destination that offers a combination of recreational activities as well as exciting and bold wines. Grape growing in the Chelan Valley is not something new however, since before the turn of the 20th century a few Native Americans and a group of Italian immigrants began planting and growing grapes here. Today the two lakeside towns, Chelan and Manson, are home to over 30 wineries, surrounded by 250 plus acres of vines that can be seen peppered along the hillsides among the orchards.
Although the first winery in Chelan, Lake Chelan Winery, was established in 2000 and was followed by a hand full of other wineries, the Lake Chelan AVA was not officially established until 2009. Even at this young age the Lake Chelan AVA is increasingly drawing attention from the rest of the wine world with its bold wine production as well as its dedication to creating a welcoming environment for wine lovers to enjoy all that the Valley has to offer.
Grape varieties in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley are 51% red to 49% white, a nice blend due to the “Lake Effect” temperatures that delivers a longer growing season and a reduced risk of frost. Leading varieties being produced in the Lake Chelan AVA include Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay.
Map from http://lakechelanwinevalley.com
Whether you are seeking out a Vintage Reserve Merlot or a new vintage Gewurztraminer, the wineries in the Lake Chelan Valley offer something for everyone. With so many wineries and tasting rooms to visit in both Chelan and Manson it is hard to visit all of them in a weekend. To help you in your destination travel planning, I wanted to share how I spent two days in Chelan discovering this “naturally intoxicating” Washington Wine region.
Rocky Pond Tasting Room is located in Downtown Chelan:
212 E Woodin Ave
My first stop in quaint town of Chelan was a visit to the tasting room of Rocky Pond Winery. For this post I wanted to share this location and highlight a favorite wine that was on the tasting list that day. A more in-depth story about my visit and wine tasting at Rocky Pond will follow in the next couple of weeks.
The Rocky Pond tasting room is a nice modern gem that is warm and welcoming, with a large array of seating options available both indoor and outdoor. Offering both genuine hospitality and some of the areas best wines, the staff at Rocky Pond will walked you through a tastings with enthusiasm and exceptional wine knowledge. Having done some research before my trip and reading about their unique white wine blend , I was excited to be able to try Rocky Pond’s 2017 Glacial Treasure for the first time.
The 2017 vintage of Glacial Treasure is a collaboration of grapes from two of Rocky Ponds Vineyard’s, Clos CheValle and Double D Vineyard, this white blend is 32% Pinot Gris, 24% Gewurztraminer, 21% Riesling, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Viognier. Well priced at $20 a bottle this blend could easily become a “go to” white wine due to its easy drinkability and crisp refreshing flavor. With all of the individual varietals adding a little something special to this creative blend you get a heady floral aroma mingled with whispers of citrus and spicy mineral notes. I was pleasantly surprised at the slight dryness of this not overly sweet wine and the delicious blend of stone fruit, crisp apple and tropical fruit flavors. It is as if all of these grapes had a secret meeting and agreed to bring out their best flavors to orchestrate the ideal blend.
I would highly recommend a visit to Rocky Pond Winery’s Tasting Room in Chelan. Stop in for the ambiance and wonderful hospitality and stay to taste your way through their perfect representation of Lake Chelan wines.
Although Sigillo Cellars is a very familiar to me, this new location in Chelan that opened in July of this year was a great way to revisit a favorite winery and enjoy a beautiful sunny October day in the valley. You can read my post about Sigillo Cellars in Snoqualmie here.
There are many reasons to visit Sigillo Cellars in new tasting room, you can enjoy partial views of Lake Chelan, talk with the friendly and knowledgeable staff, comfortable setting, as well as indulge in the available food selection and well crafted wines.
Produced in the true Champagne Method with 100% Viognier grapes this Brut is a new release from Sigillo Cellar and I was eager to try it as part of my tasting flight. As Viognier is continuing to gain a comfortable niche in vineyards of Washington State many wineries are using it more in white blends and releasing 100% Viognier wines. Delightfully, this was my first experience in tasting a Viognier Sparkling and hopefully it will not be my last.
The opening of the bubbles in this Sparkling Viognier release the aroma of warm baked bread with orange zest and citrus blossoms. A uniquely fragrant sparkling that taunts you to take a sip. On the palate the sparkling is all Viognier with noticeable flavors of citrus and soft peach. For me this tasting flight was all about this Sparkling Viognier and priced at $30 a bottle it is worth picking up some bottles for the holiday season and to give to my wine friends. Lovely!
At Sigillo Cellars one of the tasting flights is 3 glasses of your choosing from their wine list. I love being able to pick and choose three wines that fit my taste and desire to discover something new.
My flight included the 2017 Sparkling Viognier, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Grenache. I selected each of these wines because they were releases that I have not previously tasted from Sigillo Cellars and I felt each of them in their own way would pair nicely with the Charcuterie board that I ordered.
The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was a nice accompaniment to the tangy food items on the Charcuterie Board like the olives and artichoke hearts. A wonderful example of a Lake Chelan Sauvivgnon Blanc. I really enjoyed the 2016 Grenache with its spicy notes, it was perfect to pair with the fig spread and goat cheese. Enjoying the warm October sun while sampling some of Sigillo Cellars food and wine, was a perfect afternoon treat.
Being a Lake community there is a wide array of accommodations available in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley. The Lake Chelan area boasts 60-plus hotels, resorts, lodges and vacation rentals. During this trip I had the pleasure of staying at Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409, which delivered stunning views of the Lake and a warm and welcoming interior.
Chelan Resort Suites #409 has everything that you would want in a vacation rental. The unit was incredibly spacious, clean and comfortable, with special touches that made it a perfect ‘Home Base’ while visiting Lake Chelan. From the secure building, to the warm and welcoming décor, and the extra special items, like a king size sleep number bed, everything included in this rental makes you feel like you have a home away from home. Also, the Lake views from the condo are incredible. The attention to detail and hospitality from the hosts, Val and Mark, made this an extremely enjoyable and relaxing stay. I cannot recommend this location enough if planning a trip to the Lake Chelan area.
On a vacation, there is nothing more important than the bed. giving you a restful night’s sleep for your mind and body. This rental includes a King Sleep Number bed to help make your stay as comfortable as possible. An added bonus is the lake view from the bedroom window, providing beautiful scenery to wake up to each day.
At Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409 guest friendly improvements are a priority. In addition to the King Sleep Number bed there is multi-functional furniture, and an array of beach and technology items. In the Suite you will find a guest guidebook, guest information board and partnered with local businesses for discounts for their guests. Val and Mark have done everything they can to put their guests first. If you are planning a trip to Lake Chelan you can find out more about how to book a stay at #409 here on TripAdvisor.
After a day of wine tasting you can enjoy some quiet time in front of the fire.
A wine tasting tour of Lake Chelan Wine Valley really would not be complete without a visit to the first winery in the area, Lake Chelan Winery.
Lake Chelan Winery was the first winery permitted in Chelan County in 2000. This family-owned winery has a rich heritage in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley that offers unique handcrafted wines, and a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. At Lake Chelan Winery you can stop in for a tour of the winery, indulge in a complimentary tasting, and enjoy BBQ fare in the vineyard.
In the Lake Chelan Winery tasting room you have the opportunity to hear some history of the winery while expanding your Lake Chelan wine knowledge and test you wine palate. The friendly wine specialists do a wonderful job of guiding you through a personalized tasting and are happy to share deeper insight in regards to the wine that you are tasting.
One of the things that I really liked about the complimentary wine tasting at Lake Chelan Winery is that you can pick and choose the wines that you want to try. This allows you to really personalize the tasting experience. You can also purchase a special tasting that allows you to try their sparkling wine and select Reserve Wines.
Lake Chelan Winery’s Fifty Five Mile 2013 Méthode Champenoise Extra Brut is an ideal way to start off a wine tasting. A blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, and this sparkling has 3.9% residual sugar. A beautiful bright wrap around your tongue, sip of bubbly goodness. On both the nose and palate a sense of place can be detected with pear and green apple followed by a creamy almond note. Crisp, refreshing with a pleasant mineral tone that adds a brightness to this Washington sparkling wine.
One of the most interesting wines that I tasted at Lake Chelan Winery was their 2018 Stormy Mountain White, which is made from 100% White Syrah. Syrah is mostly associated with red wine, but in this bottle you find a total reversal of what a Syrah is perceived to be. With an inviting bouquet of citrus and white flowers, with a taste of grapefruit, apricot and lemon infused honey, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was drinking a wine made from Syrah grapes. This is definitely a wine that deserves to be tasted when visiting Lake Chelan Winery, both for its uniqueness and its enticing flavor characteristics.
I was so charmed by this Stormy Mountain White that I brought a bottle home.
After enjoying the Stormy Mountain White I really wasn’t too surprised that my second favorite wine of the tasting was the LCW 2016 Syrah River’s Bend Vineyard. If you are a Syrah lover then the rousing aroma of this Syrah will seal the deal even before you take a sip. Pacific Northwest ripe wild blackberries meld with vanilla and peppery spices to deliver a marvelous bouquet. Each sip of this Syrah brings an array of balanced and complex flavors including blackberry, sweet ripe plum, and the same vanilla peppery spice notes that are present on the nose. During the tasting a club member stopped in to pick up her box and a couple extra bottles of this Syrah for an annual family dinner. The last few years have seen only LCW’s Syrah poured at the family’s annual dinner and I can completely understand why after this tasting. And Yes, a bottle did come home with me as well.
Lake Chelan Winery does a great job of offering a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience.
Another not to be missed winery in the town of Manson is the incredibly friendly and down to earth WineGirl Wines. WineGirl offers both indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy a glass of wine or a tasting flight. A more in-depth story about my visit and wine tasting at WineGirl Wines will follow in the next couple of weeks.
A favorite sip from my tasting in the “Blending Room” at WineGirl Wines was their 2018 Reserve Gewurztraminer. This wine delivers a delicious balance of sweetness with the taste of ripe peaches and just a whisper of spice. WineGirl is correct when they say, “This is what they meant by Nectar of the Gods.” A bottle of this wonderfully aromatic wine also came home with me.
There is a lot to appreciate about the Blending Room at WineGirl Wines – the wine, the people and the location!
A trip to Lake Chelan offers natural beauty, along with a sense of peace and quiet that you may be looking for.
A few more reasons to visit Lake Chelan:
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.