Courtesy of Visit Walla Walla

Immerse yourself in Walla Walla Valley, a beautifully lush region often described as “what Napa was like 25 years ago.”

Irene Chang, In partnership with Visit Walla Walla  – November 15, 2020 | Updated November 18, 2020

Winter in the West means shorter days and longer, cooler nights—but that doesn’t mean wine-tasting season is over.

As the unofficial capital of Washington wine country, Walla Walla offers winter wine and dine experiences that in many ways are just as appealing as their summer counterparts. Visiting during cooler months offers a markedly different but equally rejuvenating and unique experience. Winter in Walla Walla is more subdued and peaceful, as the valley’s acclaimed wineries offer quaint indoor tasting experiences.

Of course, there are still plenty of things to do aside from wine tasting in Walla Walla. Immerse yourself in the valley’s culinary scene, including the perennial February is for Foodies month-long celebration of Walla Walla’s agricultural roots. The variety of restaurants, from award-winning fine dining establishments to cozy, comfort food cafes, offers dining experiences anywhere from upscale to laid-back casual. Visit Fort Walla Walla Museum and discover the history of a region that counts indigenous tribes, the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and Whitman Mission as part of its notable past. Or pass the time outdoors, as the valley’s mild climate and predominantly sunny days provide ample opportunity to explore Mill Creek, Bennington Lake, the Blue Mountains, and the nearby McNary National Wildlife Refuge

Here are some of our favorite places to stay, eat, and drink in the Walla Walla Valley. You’ll find out why USA Today named it America’s Best Wine Region in the 2020 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards, and why we called it the Best Wine Town in our 2018 Sunset Travel Awards!

Where to Stay

Inn at Abeja

Courtesy of Visit Walla Walla

We featured two of Walla Walla’s coziest hotel options in our most recent wine issue, and for good reason. The Inn at Abeja is right next door to the acclaimed Abeja winery, so you could have your full winter wine experience without ever leaving the 38-acre property. The century-old farmstead is beautifully restored, and perfect for history buffs who love to learn about the winery’s origins while indulging in some of Washington’s most sought-after wines.

If you’re looking for the classic charm of rolling vineyards nestled deep in the heart of wine (and wheat) country, look no further than Eritage Resort. The chic guest suites and lakefront bungalows come with luxurious amenities like L’Occitane products and a Nespresso coffee machine, and every room offers either a lake or mountain view so you can recharge with nature at your doorstep.

Where to Wine

Wine Glasses on a Picnic Table

Courtesy of Visit Walla Walla

Walla Walla Valley’s winemaking roots date back as far as the 1800s, when French-Canadian fur traders planted several varietals in nearby Frenchtown. Today, Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries that provide a wide array of experiences, from tours and tastings at traditional estate wineries to downtown tasting rooms. (There’s even one in repurposed WWII Army buildings in the Airport District.)

Wine history buffs should check out the wineries and vineyards established by the founding families of Walla Walla wine, whose influence continues to penetrate every corner of the valley today, including the Figgins family (Leonetti Cellar, 1977), the Small family (Woodward Canyon, 1981), the Ferguson and Clubb families (L’Ecole No 41, 1983), the McClellan family (Seven Hills, 1988), and the McKibben family (Pepper Bridge, 1991).  

Where to Dine

Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen

Courtesy of Visit Walla Walla

As a two-time Sunset Travel Awards finalist for Best Small Town for Food, it’s no surprise that Walla Walla’s dining scene is on par with cities many times its size. Breakfast connoisseurs will find comfort in Maple Counter Cafe or Bacon & Eggs, while Walla Walla Bread Co. and Andrae’s Kitchen make great stops for a picnic lunch to take wine tasting. In the evening, Walla Walla shines with fixtures like Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen (pictured), Brasserie Four, Passatempo Taverna, Hattaway’s on Alder, T. Macs, The Marc, and others sourcing local ingredients and infusing regionally-inspired dishes with global flair.

What to Pack

Ready to go? We’ve got your packing list ready, with all the essentials you need for the ultimate winter wine experience.


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