Where to sniff, swirl and sip in the Inland Northwest

Where to sniff, swirl and sip in the Inland Northwest
Alicia Hauff photo
Inside Maryhill Winery's Kendall Yards' tasting room.

Washington's wine scene is growing every year, and you might be surprised to know that it's the second largest wine producer in the U.S. with 970+ wineries and 350+ grape growers. Local tasting rooms put many of them right at our fingertips.

If you're new to tasting rooms, don't worry. The staff is always excited to geek out with you about what you're drinking. No question is too basic — this should be fun. Remember that you don't have to drink the entire pour — there's a dump bucket for that, and maybe even slip a snack into your bag (plain oyster crackers are great for this as they won't mess with your palate). Speaking of palate: try to avoid strong flavors and scents just before tasting. Toothpaste, chapstick, perfume or a garlicky plate of pasta can all make it hard to appreciate the nuances of whatever you're sipping.

You'll also want to keep in mind that wine is driven by the seasons. Sometimes hours will change to accommodate longer or shorter production days. It never hurts to check in, especially when visiting a tasting room located at the winery.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars

Located on the grounds of a beautifully restored estate, Arbor Crest is the perfect backdrop for wine tasting (and a picnic). Choose from a variety of tasting options (the wine list is too extensive to try them all). 4705 N. Fruit Hill Rd., Spokane. Open daily all year, check for specific hours.

Barili Cellars

This winery sources grapes from several wine regions in Washington, showing off the character of the state. Syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot — the gang's all here. Hours for this tasting room are limited, so get in when you can. 608 W. Second Ave., Spokane. First Fridays 4-9 pm; Second Saturdays noon-5 pm and by appointment.

Barrister Winery

You can taste Barrister's wine (including a cabernet Franc and a petit verdot) at the historic winery building, surrounded by barrels, or at the window-walled tasting room right by Auntie's. Winery: 1213 W. Railroad Ave., Spokane; downtown tasting room: 203 N. Washington St. Winery tasting: daily noon-5 pm; downtown tasting room: Tue-Sat noon-9 pm; Sun-Mon noon-6 pm.

Bridge Press Cellars

Come taste small batch reds, made from Walla Walla and Oregon grapes. Depending on the day, you might get some live music along with your tasting; they have a robust summer music series. 39 W. Pacific Ave., Spokane. Thu 2:30-9 pm; Fri noon-11 pm; Sat 2:30-10 pm.

Castaway cellars

Now you can stop in for a wine tasting right inside the Coeur d'Alene Resort Plaza Shops. Scott and Shelly Crawford of Post Falls have imported their wines to Sherman Avenue, with comfy leather bar stools, a flyfishing theme and a wide variety of wines, made from Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills vineyards. 210 Sherman Ave., CdA. Mon-Thu 11 am-6 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-9 pm.

Coeur d'Alene Cellars

While you can do a classic tasting, this winery also offers paint nights and live music to mix things up. This small production winery is serious about their craft, offering a range of interesting reds and whites, both single varietal, and blends. 3890 N. Schreiber Way, CdA. Sun-Thu noon-5 pm; Fri-Sat 12-7 pm (if you have a group of 6 or more, please call at least 24 hours ahead).

Colter's Creek

If you're looking for somewhere to taste in Moscow, stop by this recently opened, light-filled tasting room. These award-winning wines are made from Lewis-Clark Valley grapes into everything from Viognier to a Bordeaux blend. (Also now in Juliaetta, Idaho). 215 S. Main St., Moscow; 308 Main St., Juliaetta, Idaho. Moscow: Tue-Thu noon-7 pm; Fri-Sat noon-8 pm; Juliaetta: Thu 4-5 pm, Fri-Sun noon-5 pm.

Cougar Crest Estate Winery

This Walla Walla winery has a tasting outpost in downtown Spokane. Come sample a wide array of varietals including albarino, malbec and a port-style wine, along with the usual Washington wine suspects. 8 N. Post St., Suite 6, Spokane. Sun-Thu noon-6 pm; Fri-Sat noon-8 pm.

Craftsman Cellars

This tasting room is in the heart of Kendall Yards, perfect for a Night Market break. You'll sample their range of Columbia Valley wines made in a traditional way (by hand instead of using electric pumps) and aged in French Oak barrels. 1194 W. Summit Pkwy., Spokane. Tue and Thu 4-8 pm; Wed 4-9 pm; Fri-Sat 2-9 pm; Sun 1-5 pm.

Helix Wines

With eight different single varietals and four blends, you won't be bored visiting this Walla Walla-based winery tasting room in downtown Spokane. Made with fruit from the Columbia Valley, try some classic varietals like Merlot and Syrah, as well as some new favorites like Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. 824 W. Sprague Ave., Spokane. Sat-Thu 1-8 pm; Sun-Wed 1-6 pm.

Latah Creek

One of the area's wine staples (they are among Washington's wine pioneers, dating back to the early '80s), you can visit Latah Creek daily. You might know them for their Riesling and Muscat Canelli-based Huckleberry d'Latah, but don't forget that they have a full range of reds and dry whites, including a few with reserve status. 13030 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane Valley. Daily 9 am-5 pm.

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars

In the heart of Liberty Lake, come taste bold red wines from Washington's Red Mountain AVA, made right on site. Once located right on the lake, this tasting room offers more space, which they've used to branch out a little (you'll find some whites and more red wine variety now), as well as to host events (check out their book club). 23110 E. Knox Ave., Liberty Lake. Wed-Fri 1-4 pm; Sat-Sun noon-5 pm.

Maryhill winery

Although the winery is located in Goldendale, Washington, in the southern tip of the Columbia Valley, Maryhill's Spokane tasting room with a view is in Kendall Yards. Sit on the spacious patio while you sip one of the large catalog of approachable wines, hailing from eight of Washington's 14 wine growing regions. 1303 W. Summit Pkwy., Suite 100, Spokane. Mon-Tue noon-8 pm, Wed noon-9 pm; Thu noon-8 pm; Fri-Sat noon-9 pm; Sun noon-7 pm.

Overbluff Cellars

Find Overbluff in the Washington Cracker Building, home to a variety of events. Come taste limited production wines made in Spokane with grapes from the Walla Walla Valley. They are known for full-bodied whites, big reds and interesting blends. 304 W. Pacific Ave., Spokane. Fri-Sat noon-6 pm or by appointment.

Pend d'Oreille Winery

With more than two decades in Sandpoint, this winery continues to pour fresh flavors. Their lineup includes whites, rosé, blends, ports and reds, all inside their cozy turn-of-the-century building. 301 Cedar St.. 11 am-8 pm daily

Regal Road Winery
Though only open by appointment, you won't want to miss this unique set up. Regal Road grows all of their grapes in their estate vineyard, Red Hawk Ranch, located on the Moran Prairie. You'll find very small production pinot noir and pinot gris, made and bottled on site. One of a few examples of Spokane-grown wine. 8224 S. Regal Rd., Spokane. Tastings by appointment only.

Renegade by Monte Scarlatto

Another Red Mountain mainstay to come to Spokane is Monte Scarlatto Estate Winery, and they've got a little attitude about their wines, even naming their downtown branch "Renegade." A percentage of their Dawn's Bikini sales go to breast cancer research, and their Miscelare red blend is another favorite. 822 W. Sprague Ave., Spokane. Wed 2-8 pm, Thu 2-9 pm, Fri 2-10 pm, Sat noon-10 pm, Sun noon-6 pm.

Robert Karl Cellars

You can find Robert Karl wines in an industrial space made eclectic with rotating local art. Though you probably know their popular claret red blend, there are lots of other things to try at this boutique winery, including a refreshing sauvignon blanc, malbec and cabernet sauvignon. 115 W. Pacific Ave., Spokane. Thu-Fri 2-5 pm; Sat noon-4 pm or by appointment.

Tempus Cellars Winemaker Joe Forest decided to become a winemaker after a Bob Dylan show in Sicily, so... that's pretty cool. He relies on some classic vineyards to create his flavors, from Oregon to Yakima to the Columbia Valley. The tasting room is right next to Cougar Crest. 8 N. Post St., Suite 8, Spokane, Thursdays through Mondays, noon-7 pm.

Terra Blanca Winery

Located in the Chronicle Building, near the Fox, the Bing and the Knit, Keith and ReNae Pilgrim have staked an outpost of their Red Mountain winery in downtown Spokane. They've been at it since 1992, and their Signature Series wines show what that Red Mountain soil is all about. 926 W. Sprague Ave., Mon-Thu noon-6 pm, Fri noon-8 pm, Sat noon-6 pm, Sun noon-5 pm.

Townshend Cellars

Taste your T3, merlot and malbec surrounded by the natural beauty of Greenbluff. This winery is known for Old World styles with a Washington twist. 8022 E. Greenbluff Rd., Colbert. Fri-Sun noon-5 pm.

V du V wines

Using Columbia Valley grapes, the Morrow and Phillips families teamed up to create this boutique that specializes in reds, like Syrah, cab and pinot. The tasting room is in a former tire shop near the new University bridge. 12 S. Scott St., Spokane. Fridays 3-6 pm, Saturdays 1-5 pm.

Va Piano

Inside the Historic Davenport Hotel, now you can taste this Walla Walla wine without leaving Spokane. You'll find a wide-variety of Washington state favorites, both red and white (don't forget the rosé!). 10 S. Post St., Spokane. Thu-Sat 1-7 pm; Sun 12 am-5 pm.

Winescape Winery

Perched on a hillside with expansive views of Glenrose Prairie, it's hard to believe the bucolic setting is just a five-minute drive from Lincoln Heights. Founded by Patricia and Philip Butterfield, both WSU medical school professors, the winery resides in a 4,000-square-foot tasting room designed by renowned Seattle-based architect and Spokane native Tom Kundig. 6011 E. 32nd, Spokane. Open Fridays 3-7 pm, Sat-Sun 1-6 pm.

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