Since we were fortunate enough to spend a week in Seattle, we allotted time to step out of the city for a few adventures within an hour drive. As a group of 5 adults, we knew it would be more comfortable, relaxing and affordable to rent an SUV rather than try to Uber/Lyft everywhere. While I can’t speak highly about our experience renting with Hertz, we did enjoy the new Ford Explorer we got with 3 rows of seating.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Our first road trip stop was to the oldest and most acclaimed Washington winery for a 10:30am private tasting and tour. Our timing was perfect…well maybe not 10:30am…but we got to see, use and enjoy their brand new, quintessential visitor center and tasting room, a $7 million renovation project for their 50th anniversary. Our tasting with Jean was in a private room upstairs and included the 2015 Marsanne, 2015 Viognier, 2015 Chardonnay from Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard, 2013 Boreal Red and the 2012 Syrah also from Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard. The winery boasts an impressive and lengthy list of awards, and I can see why – the wines were delicious!
On the tour, we got a peek into their factory process, sampled more wines and learned about the best tasting techniques. I’ve visited more than 15 wineries in my life, but the two things that stuck out to me were that you should never rinse your glass out with water in between different wines (it changes the flavor for the worst), and that you should always hold your glass by the stem, as the warmth from your fingers can negatively affect the temperature and therefore taste of the wine. Following the tour, we browsed around their large showroom and explored their property, leaving with 3 special bottles to bring home. In the summer, they have concerts in the vineyard worth checking out too!
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar
A quick car ride away is the main road in Woodinville and a few restaurants, including this alternate location to their flagship in downtown Seattle. After a morning wine tasting, I figured a wine bar would have food to suit our palates. They used the finest and freshest ingredients for every dish, and even had gluten-free pasta available! I ordered the Basil Pesto GF pasta (best I’ve ever had), but my sister also loved the Farmer’s Lunch (one of the best cheese/charcuterie boards she’s had). Everything was absolutely delicious and helped to wake up our systems after 7 or so tastings of wine before noon. Oops!
Microsoft Visitor Center
On our drive back to Seattle, we stopped in Redmond to see the huge community of buildings that make up the Microsoft headquarters. They have a gift shop with every possible type of Microsoft-branded merchandise and a visitor center where you can explore their latest innovations and hands-on exhibits. They had facial recognition software to predict your age (it was funny, but incorrect), movement-enabled applications to change your clothes and apply makeup (obviously my favorite) and xbox games attracting all the kids. It’s not a must-visit, but it was an easy 15-30 minute stop on our way back from Woodinville and a cool place to see.
Since it was a very hazy day from the nearby, devastating wildfires, we decided to skip Snoqualmie Falls, which is about a 30-minute drive from the winery or Microsoft. If you enjoy hiking, waterfalls and being in nature, perhaps this would be a more exciting stop for you than Microsoft. We were tired from our morning glasses of wine and didn’t think it would be worth the drive for such a hazy, gray day.