When my husband, Slaed, mentioned he’d need to travel to Lake Chelan for work last weekend, I jumped at the chance for Bergen and I to tag along. Being just a little over 3 hours, in North Central Washington, by the car makes it the perfect roadtrip, and a good opportunity to get away, even if it would only be for a couple days. I was also hoping to take advantage of the 300 days of sunshine that Lake Chelan boasts.
The weekend had it’s ups and downs. Thankfully more ups than downs, but the downs had us questioning why we were traveling with our rambunctious toddler yet again. Were we pushing it? Should we have just stayed home where he’s comfortable and has a routine?
Our first full day greeted with a sky full of clouds and a forecast for rain after a rough night of little sleep, but we were determined to make the most of it. Slaed worked in the morning while Bergen and I went on a nice long walk (despite the weather) and explored town. During Bergen’s nap, we hatched a wine tasting plan. Thanks to Chelan’s Chamber of Commerce, we were armed with a map of Chelan Wine Country and a slew of recommendations with our unique needs in mind. The wineries need to be open, family-friendly, and not too terribly far away.
Lake Chelan and the surrounding area has long been famous for it’s apples, but only in the last 5 years or so has it’s wine scene picked up, and become quite a destination for tasters. According to the chamber of commerce, in 2009 it was designated as an American Viticulture Area (AVA), and now has over 20 wineries to explore.
Our tour started at Vin du Lac just outside of the town of Chelan. Upon arrival we immediately noticed the view and the spacious patio area. We were also put at ease when we spotted another couple with their older toddler enjoying a glass of wine inside. After sampling a red and a couple whites, we decided it was best to choose a full glass, and enjoy it outside where Bergen was free to explore. We settled on the Les Amis (75 % Riesling, 10% Gewurztraminer, 15% Muscat). Fresh, not too sweet, not too dry, perfect for sipping as we soaked in the Vitamin D and took in the view.
For our next destination, we were torn. We knew we would continue around the lake towards the town of Manson, but with our limited time and toddler patience, we couldn’t make any mistakes! Luckily, we quickly found out one of two choices was closed making our decision easy: Benson’s Vineyards. This time, we put Bergen on my back in the ergo. Again, we sampled just a couple wines, and then noticed the nice back deck. The two of us decided on another full glass so we could enjoy the sunset as Bergen meandered around the fully enclosed area. Their 2009 Sangiovese was the right choice. I liked it’s balance with just a touch of raspberry fruitiness. We loved not worrying about him wandering off, discovering stairs, or some other way out. Sure it was a little chilly, but we were prepared, and the view made it all okay.
We were ready and looking forward to our last winery: Wapato Point Cellars. We heard from multiple sources that not only was it a great place to taste wine, but a great (and family-friendly) place to have dinner. There’s even a playground on the property! After one or two samples, we quickly realized we needed to move on to our meal for Bergen’s sake. I knew exactly what to order and was not disappointed with their burger. Flavorful and cooked just right with just the right amount of melted cheese. We went home with a bottle of 2011 Harmony: a refreshing blend of Pinto Grigio and Riesling.
We appreciated the laid back atmosphere of the Lake Chelan wineries, and while winter may not be ideal for most visitors, I was thankful for the lack of crowds, and blown away by the pleasant, family-friendly experience. And as for those questions above about traveling once again with our young toddler…I think we made the right choice, don’t you?
Where is your favorite wine region? What makes it the best?
Info to Know:
- Before starting your wine tasting journey, take some of the guess work out of it, and head to the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce for a winery map and recommendations that suit your needs. Up-to-date information on hours and tasting times are available as well.
- 102 East Johnson Ave Chelan, WA 98816
- Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm
- Vin du Lac of Chelan
- 105 Highway 150 Chelan, WA 98816
- Benson Vineyards
- 754 Winesap Ave. Manson, WA 98831
- Wapato Point Cellars
- 200 Quetilquasoon Road Manson, WA 98831