35 years ago, if you had said you were going to Walla Walla, an eyebrow would’ve been raised and a judgmental glance shot in your direction. Why? Because at that point, Walla Walla was known as the destination for criminals who were to be housed at the Washington State Penitentiary. It was not known as a destination for wine. Luckily, that has changed. Walla Walla is now one of the premier destinations for Washington Wines for good reason. The quality of the wines coming out of Walla Walla is hard to beat.
Walla Walla is a quaint town located in the Southeast corner of Washington. Receiving less than 20″ of rain on average (according to Wasington State University, there was 10.3″ of rain in 2014as of 11/1/14), Walla Walla has a semi-arid climate. While most people think that Washington as a whole is a rainy state, Walla Walla takes that stereotype and turns it on it’s head. In an average year, Walla Walla gets 188 days of sunshine per year versus Seattle’s 58 days. A pesky little mountain range known as the Cascades is easily forgotten when people think of Washington’s climate.
Walla Walla’s 188 days of sunshine allow for an experience that is completely different than anything you’ll experience in Western Washington. Those of us on the “wet side” cherish those rare sunny days. East siders, y’all are LUCKY! Oh wait…you get bitterly cold in the winter, so it’s not necessarily a good thing! 😉
Beyond the weather differences, though…Walla Walla’s wines are phenomenal. From delicate whites to bold, in-your-face reds, Walla Walla (or W2 as it’s sometimes known as) has something for everyone. For me, I have two must visits when I go to Walla Walla.
Basel Cellars: This stunning property oozes grace, elegance and small town charm. This former private residence is built on a hill and was named “Double River Ranch”. A manmade, subterranean cave initially housed the original owners classic car collection now houses the wine making operations. The property also houses a 13,000+ sq. ft. guest house, a pool house (which can be rented for events or overnight stays, visit their website for more information) and a roomy tasting room.
Pool House at Basel Cellars
Main Guest House at Basel Cellars
Tasting Room at Basel Cellars
Sleight of Hand Cellars is another one of my favorites. Sleight of Hand is definitely the most rocking tasting room in Walla Walla. Literally. One wall is full of vinyl records and a common hashtag on their Instagram is #sleeveface, where you take the sleeve from one of the records in the tasting room and hold it over your own face. Oh, and did I also mention that the vinyl is there for more than decoration??? Yes, you can listen to those great records on the record player they have in the tasting room! When I was there, it was Pearl Jam being played.
The record player at Sleight of Hand Cellars
The view from the parking lot
Where are your favorite spots in Walla Walla?