Surrounded by valleys, forests, mountains, and rivers, the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, Washington, draws plenty of outdoor enthusiasts to the region. Beer gardens, costumed bands playing oom-pah music, and gabled Bavarian-style buildings turn this town of 2000 into a village reminiscent of Southeastern Germany. And its popular Oktoberfest draws thousands of thirsty visitors annually. But with more than thirty wine tasting rooms in and around town, it’s also attracting wine lovers to Washington’s hottest new wine region.
So, we set off to discover Leavenworth wine tasting for ourselves. Here are our best recommendations for places to sip, eat and stay.
In-town Wine Tasting Rooms
In town, you’ll find several welcoming wine tasting rooms. Many are easily within walking distance of each other. Three you won’t want to miss are Goose Ridge, Patterson Cellars, and Boudreaux Cellars.
Goose Ridge tasting room has a casual, open, airy feel. The room features wine bottles stacked decoratively in diagonal-shaped wooden racks behind a low-slung bar. And wing-backed chairs or spacious wooden tables and chairs provide several options for comfortable seating. A great stone fireplace sits in the center of the tasting room. And an outside patio opens to Front Street on one side of the tasting room where small tables provide outdoor seating.
Goose Ridge is a small, family-owned, and operated estate winery dedicated to handcrafting limited quantities of exquisite Bordeaux and Rhone varietal wines from the winery’s vineyard in the Columbia Valley. Attentive, knowledgeable staff provide a relaxed experience to enjoy newly released whites along with traditional red varietals. For something different, try the aromatic 2019 GRV White Blend made from Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne grapes.
For an exceptional in-town tasting room experience, Patterson Cellars offers winetasting paired with your choice of culinary-inspired chocolates or artisan cheeses. With 12-hour advance notice, you can order a deluxe charcuterie board prepared by Cured, a local specialty meat store. In our five-wine flight, we sampled the sparkling blanc de blanc, the Melange Blanc – a white blend, a Petite Verdot and a Syrah from Columbia Valley, and a Red Mountain Cabernet-Malbec.
Winemaker John Patterson strives to produce approachable new world wines that appeal to all palates by including single varietals and blends of whites, reds, and roses, plus sparkling and dessert wines. However, by pairing these wines with food, you’ll enjoy an elevated educational and unique sensory tasting experience.
With its shared space, sleek bar, and shiny suspended canoe, Boudreaux Cellars downtown tasting room is a favorite with visitors. Known for making excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Boudreaux’s sources their grapes from Washington’s oldest, most aromatic, and complex blocks of this varietal. Their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Loess & Champoux Vineyards won the 2018 Diamond of the Decade from Seattle Wine Awards. Boudreaux also produces several other delicious reds sourced from Yakima, Walla Walla, and Columbia Valley.
In 1998, Rob Newsom made his first wine near Leavenworth in Icicle Canyon. Now the father-daughter winemaking team of Rob and Keely Newson runs this award-winning winery.
Outside of Downtown Leavenworth
Outside of town, you’ll find uncrowded, family-owned, dog-friendly tasting rooms. You can also see more of Leavenworth’s spectacular scenery by visiting some of the wineries outside of town. Traffic-free roads serpentine through spacious green alpine meadows, pear and apple orchards, and along creek canyons surrounded by steep, forested mountains. You will see deer, quail, and chipmunks along the way.
Icicle Ridge Winery
The Icicle Ridge tasting room is housed in a spectacular “log cabin” home built by Louie and Judy Wagoner. It boasts a massive hand-built, river stone fireplace and large, glossy handcrafted log tables in the kitchen. And Icicle Ridge Mountain can be seen from the window of the tasting room.
Enjoy an exceptional wine-tasting experience as you’re seated to sample their handcrafted wines. And don’t be surprised if the friendly owners Kristen or Don or winemaker Jens join you for a tasting.
A few of their wines, including the popular Blondes white wine (named after Louie and Judy’s three daughters), are sourced from the estate’s vineyards. However, 90% of the grapes used to make their other wines are sourced from the Yakima Valley. The winery hosts unique and engaging events, like the wine hike with gourmet lunch or the midwinter snowshoe hike lit by tiki torches. Wine makes friends, and although you might arrive as a stranger, you’ll leave feeling like part of the family.
Just east of Leavenworth, Silvara Cellars offers tastings of their ultra-premium, award-winning wine in an open, airy setting overlooking the Wenatchee River Valley. As you enter the spacious tasting room, a huge, beamed ceiling and stone fireplace with corrugated metal wrapped around the bar greets you.
Winter weather on this hilltop location makes it difficult to grow grapes locally. Therefore, the owner and winemaker Gary Seidler sources grapes from quality vineyards in Eastern Washington like Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills, and Columbia Valley. His trademark wine is his Malbec. The second most popular is his Cabernet Sauvignon.
The sweeping patio with its hillside of flowers provides a beautiful venue for music featured on Saturday afternoons. Umbrella shaded seating on the lawn and patio offers a pleasant setting to enjoy the music and drink wine. But it’s the friendly, knowledgeable staff that make this a memorable visit.
Where to Eat
If you’re looking for a casual, on-the-go experience, stop by the Tumwater Bakery and enjoy their generously proportioned, homemade pastries or egg creations packaged to go. Open for breakfast and lunch, Tumwater serves a delightfully thin crust pizza in two generous sizes.
This popular Biergarten is known for its sausage and beer. The venue provides a shaded, lively spot to relax. Dill, sweet and cucumber relish, apple cider sauerkraut, diced onions, sliced jalapenos, and a staggering variety of specialty mustards are available to top off your bratwurst, chicken sausage, turkey dog, or veggie wurst. Try the German potato salad and a pint of beer with a scrumptious brat. Beer choices range from pilsner to German chocolate cake ale.
Leavenworth’s new chef-owned café offers food and drink that reflects the lifestyle of the Cascades. Recommended to us by locals, Watershed has seating on a porch outside and plenty of seating inside along its red brick walls and snug bar. This place charms with a bright and lively atmosphere. Try the signature Watershed million-dollar meatloaf.
Where to Stay
The Post Hotel exudes a quiet elegance. In addition, the hotel is so exclusive there isn’t even a sign for it on the outside. But it’s well known for its European saltwater hydrotherapy pools, stepping pools, steam baths, and saunas. The Post Hotel provides the perfect place to relax after a hard day of wine tasting. Daily breakfast and lunch included.
This alpine-designed lodge in the center of town is a favorite with visitors. Vibrant, fuchsia-colored petunias cascade from the window boxes on the outside. The hotel’s onsite micro pub features premium Washington beers, handmade bites, and local wines.
If You Go
Discover the magic of Leavenworth for yourself. After three days of wine tasting, eating, and exploring this delightful town, we found a village with a big heart, spectacular scenery, comfortable accommodations, and amazing wines. So, whether you’re walking from one tasting room to another in-town or visiting friendly, family-owned wineries just outside the city limits, you’ll find a wide range of premium wines. The intrepid vintners in this Bavarian village have figured out how to produce the best wines by sourcing their grapes from the finest vineyards in eastern Washington.
For more help planning your trip, visit the Leavenworth Visitor’s Center for things to do, where to stay, and of course, wine tasting!
This wine column was co-written with Gary Baker.