Looking for some of the best wines in the country? Organic, seasonal cuisine? These small towns have it all
WALLA WALLA, WA
A Cab capital stays true to its rural soul
What a house costs: $224,900
The vibe: This southeastern Washington town was once famous for wheat and sweet onions. These days, show up at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen on a Friday night, and you’ll see it filled with young winemakers who produce some of the best Cabernets and Syrahs in the country. Chefs have followed the grapes too. The combination has revived a once-somnolent downtown, with restaurants and tasting rooms occupying restored early-20th-century buildings. But while Walla Walla might be gentrified, it holds onto its rural soul. Outdoor sports are big: Winemaker Chris Figgins snowshoes in 12º weather and fly-fishes when it’s warmer. –Sara Schneider
Meet your neighbors over: The amazing housemade flatbread at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen. Fish tacos at college pub Green Lantern.
On Saturday: Stop at the Walla Walla Valley Farmers’ Market (May–Oct), bike in the Blue Mountains, or tour Pepper Bridge Winery, Va Piano Vineyards, and other wineries south of town. Head back into town for more wine tasting at Seven Hills Winery or Forgeron Cellars, or savor a caramel at 75-year-old Bright’s Candies. For dinner, both Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant and 26brix are standouts.
Inside scoop: “Wine grapes are the apex of ‘local.’ They have a deep sense of place. And wine will take Walla Walla to the world.” –Chris Figgins, winemaker, Leonetti Cellar
Four more foodie havens
What a house costs: $216,346
In the Willamette Valley’s wine country, McMinnville has turn-of-the-century charm ― and it’s surrounded by the West’s best Pinot Noir.
What a house costs: $525,000
It once appeared as Shangri-la on film. Today, it’s home to small family farms, a farmers’ market, and chefs devoted to organic, seasonal local cuisine.
What a house costs: $531,221
Almost weekly, Washington State sees a new winery open; this area, in the lush Sammamish Valley, has some of the rising stars.
What a house costs: $628,789
Home to the most stellar cuisine in the country, including Thomas Keller’s French Laundry―and just a grape’s throw from hundreds of Napa Valley wineries.