Best Kept Secret in Washington
Oct 09, 2020
Living in California, it’s easy to hop over to Napa and Sonoma fairly often, so when friends invited Joe and I to visit them in Walla Walla, the wine region in Eastern Washington, I reserved our flights before hanging up the phone! I’d never been before and since I’m determined to visit every wine country in the world, it was a no brainer. Home to some of the best wines being produced in the US, this place should have been on my bucket list years ago.
As we flew over the valley with it’s gorgeous rolling hills, vast vineyards and Blue Mountains in the distance, I was astounded. I didn’t know that the Walla Walla Valley was designated as an American Viticultural Area in 1984? Where had I been?
This town of 35,000 only caught on in recent years, as wine-lovers have begun to explore this off-the-beaten-path wine region and now it’s home to more than 140 wineries and a wide range of varietals.
It didn’t take long before we met some of the winemakers and vintners, some carrying on family wine tradition for generations. And no one is in a rush here. Conversation is relaxed and tasting wine here so fun and unintimidating. There’s even a plethora of winetasting rooms in the quaint little downtown so if you don’t want to drive, you can walk from one to another.
One of the standout tastings for us was the Corliss Cabernet. It was ruby red in color, rich and and had outstanding depth in flavor. I also loved the Tranche Pape Blanc, a riff on the white blend from the Rhone Velley in France. Think fresh white peach. and honeysuckle. Yummy!
Oh, and the food? The food scene in Walla Walla will blow your culinary socks off with more incredible dining venues than you can possibly visit in a weekend, but we sure tried!! Between the fluffy beignets at a gas station (that’s no typo— Andrae’s Kitchen is located in a gas station) to the most amazing fried onions at Whitehouse-Crawford, and grilled quail at Saffron Mediterranean, everywhere we turned there was deliciousness! Oh, and we had to try the best breakfast at a restaurant run by two women, both named Michelle. It’s called Bacon and Eggs and when you go, be sure to try their Bloody Mary! It’s a well-kept secret, so shhhhhh!
And since Walla Walla is one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the nation, the farms here produce much more that the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onions. In fact, I was so inspired by the harvest, that I decided to create a dinner for our final evening. We started with a Potato Rosemary Harvest Bread. Then we opened up a bottle of Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon to have with Dry Rub Steaks with Charred Tomato and Corn Salsa. And for the big finale, I made warm Pumpkin Soufflés with a luscious cinnamon crème anglaise which took the dinner over the top!
I couldn’t wait to share some of the recipes with you, so here you are:
Find some wines from Eastern Washington to enjoy with these recipes and Bon Appètit!