Before Woodinville was the wine country hotspot it is today, it was a rustic countryside town with just eight wineries in place. Fast forward 20 years later and Woodinville has transformed into Washington’s award-winning wine country with 115 wineries and tasting rooms sprawled across four different wine districts. Pretty impressive growth if you ask us. So how did this wine explosion come to be? We tapped into some stories from the original winery founders to get a better understanding of Woodinville’s viticultural evolution.
The First Struggles
One of the challenges early on was the stigma that Washington’s cold, wet climate wasn’t good for growing grapes, so there must not be any good wineries. However this didn’t stop some of Woodinville’s very first winemakers from investing in the region, and many relied on each other for winemaking knowledge and local support. “We had to establish that this was more than a hobby or a bunch of guys in garages; this was a serious, credible winemaking region,” says Bob Betz of the Betz Family Winery.
The Turning Point
Greg Lill of DeLille Cellars describes one of the biggest breaks for his winery being his participation in a dinner for the Auction of Washington Wines, where the founder described his wine as “the Lafite Rothschild of Washington State.” Little by little winemakers started receiving exposure statewide through events and tastings, growing their clout amongst the who’s who in wine. Soon Woodinville wineries started receiving visitors from outside Washington, and they started hosting their own events where the whole community was able to showcase their wines.
A Viticulture Explosion
The image of Woodinville as a national wine destination only just fully realized itself in the last decade. With new winemakers coming onto the scene and being welcomed by the more established wineries, Woodinville became a great place to get a local footing, all while helping keep a consistent flow of visitors. It was a win-win for the wine community. The sheer amount of wineries in the region has brought a variety of wines that are hard to find elsewhere. “If you’re interested in what is the highest quality cabernet, you can find that here, and you can also find something off the beaten path and experimental too,” explains Bryan Otis of Matthews Winery.
The Future of Wine
With the growth of Woodinville’s “winery country” not looking to slow down anytime soon, winemakers are excited about the future. Many are already expanding their businesses to include multiple tasting rooms and farm-to-table dinners that highlight Woodinville’s farm country roots. For those looking to take advantage of this award-winning wine destination, we recommend checking out Willows Lodge, nestled right in the heart of Woodinville. With a stone fireplace and personal hot tub in each room and a concierge that will plan your own personal winery tour, you’ll get to experience the best of Woodinville in style.