You won’t find many grapes, but you will find a lot to love while wine touring the scenic Olympic Peninsula.
The northwestern corner of Washington is best known for majestic mountains, wondrous waterways and amazing forests and streams. It is one of the most beautiful regions anywhere, and now it is wine country, too.
If you are looking to spend a long weekend tasting wine around the peninsula, you are in luck because it naturally lends itself to three days of touring. We will start in the southern peninsula around the town of Shelton, move up to the Kitsap Peninsula, then head north to the communities that border the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You can, of course, do this in any order you wish.
Day 1: Southern Olympic Peninsula
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For the southern Olympic Peninsula part of this tour, we start in the town of Shelton, which is northwest of Olympia on Highway 101.
—Walter Dacon Wines
. Lloyd and Ann Anderson’s winery near Shelton specializes in Syrah and also produces a highly regarded Pinot Gris called Skookum White. 50 S.E. Skookum Inlet Road, Shelton. 360-426-5913.
—Hoodsport Winery. Launched in 1978, Hoodsport is one of Washington’s oldest wineries. It primarily uses grapes from east of the Cascades, but it also produces a wine using a rare grape called Island Belle, grown on Stretch Island near Belfair. 23501 Highway 101, Hoodsport. 360-877-9894.
— Mosquito Fleet Winery. Brian Petersen and Scott Griffin run this winery in Belfair whose name pays homage to the fleet of ferryboats that plied the waters of Puget Sound for more than a century. Their grapes come from top vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills, Red Mountain and the Walla Walla Valley. 21 N.E. Old Belfair Highway, Belfair. 360-710-0855.
— Westport Winery. Head about an hour west from Shelton to the coast to arrive at the indomitable Westport Winery. Since launching in 2007, this coastal winery has built a tasting room that features more than 30 wines, a restaurant, bakery, dog park, sculpture garden, themed gardens and more. 1 S. Arbor Road, Aberdeen, 360-648-2224.
Where to eat
The southern Olympic Peninsula is not necessarily a big tourism destination, so dining choices are a bit limited. However, you will not have any difficulty finding several places to eat. Here are a few choices:
— Olympic Bakery & Deli. This is a good place for coffee, pastries and sandwiches, perfect for breakfast or a lunch break. 519 E. Pickering Road, Shelton.
— Sunset Beach Grocery & Deli. Looking for a good lunch stop? This mainstay is famous for its gyros and Philly cheesesteaks. 17151 E. Highway 106, Belfair.
— Casper’s Pizza. This family restaurant produces some of the best pizza around and is a great stop for lunch or dinner while on your wine-tasting tour. 23730 Highway 3, Belfair.
— Restaurant at Alderbrook. Perhaps the best dining in the southern Olympic Peninsula, Alderbrook offers fine dining in a beautiful setting. 7101 Highway 106, Union.
Where to stay
While there are many options to stay in Shelton, Belfair and other communities of the southern Olympic Peninsula, for a great experience, there is one choice: Alderbrook Resort & Spa. It is at the southern end of Hood Canal in the town of Union. In addition to the gorgeous surroundings and beautifully apportioned rooms, Alderbrook also offers a fabulous spa, and the nearby Alderbrook Golf Course provides 18 holes of championship golf.
Looking for something to do that doesn’t involve wine? Try golfing at Alderbrook or Gold Mountain Golf Course, hiking in the Hoh rainforest or deep-sea fishing in Westport.
Day 2: Kitsap Peninsula
The Kitsap Peninsula is northeast of Shelton and Belfair, separated from the Olympic Peninsula by Hood Canal. It includes such cities as Bremerton, Silverdale, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island.
The wineries of the Kitsap Peninsula are clustered on Bainbridge Island, which is a convenient 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. That makes this part of the tour the most convenient for wine lovers on the east side of Puget Sound. Here are some of the wineries you will want to consider visiting:
— Amelia Wynn. Owner Paul Bianchi is crafting superb wines using grapes from the Columbia Valley, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah and Chardonnay. 450 Winslow Way E., Bainbridge Island.
— Eleven Winery. Owner and winemaker Matt Albee focuses on grapes from the Yakima Valley and is crafting highly rated examples of Petit Verdot, Syrah and Roussanne. 7671 N.E. Day Road, Bainbridge Island. Eleven also has a tasting room at 287 E. Winslow Way and in Poulsbo at 18827 Front St. 206-780-0905.
— Bainbridge Vineyards. The region’s oldest winery has new ownership. It began in 1977 and has always focused on locally grown grapes — that’s right — including such varieties as Pinot Noir, Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe. 8989 E. Day Road, Bainbridge Island. 206-842-9463.
— Perennial Vintners. Mike Lempriere has been around the wine industry for decades, putting together the first website dedicated to Washington wines and their history. In 2005, Mike launched his winery, which focuses on local grapes. 8840 N.E. Lovgreen Road, Bainbridge Island. 206-780-2146.
— Eagle Harbor Wine Company Hugh Remash launched this winery in 2005, and he focuses on grapes from east of the Cascades. 9445 N.E. Business Park Lane, Bainbridge Island. 206-227-4310.
— Rolling Bay Winery. Owner Alphonse de Klerk crafts wines using grapes from Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley. 10314 Beach Crest Drive, Bainbridge Island, 206-419-3355.
— Fletcher Bay Winery. Owner Jim Wilford specializes in premium reds and red blends, using Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo from Walla Walla, and Merlot, and Sangiovese from the Yakima Valley. His winery was opened in 2008 in his garage on Fletcher Bay .He has since moved to 9415 Coppertop Loop, next to a brewery and distillery, 206-780-9463. He has a second tasting room at Island Vintners, 450 Winslow Way East.
Where to eat
You’ll find plenty of places to eat on the Kitsap Peninsula. Here are a few choices:
— Hitchcock. Using locally grown ingredients, this restaurant is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. 133 E. Winslow Way, Bainbridge Island, 206-201-3789.
— Harbour Public House. Great beer and pub grub in a fantastic atmosphere. Be sure to try the fish & chips. 231 S.W. Parfitt Way, Bainbridge Island, 206-842-0969.
— Silver City Restaurant & Brewery. Head to the town of Silverdale for this brewery and restaurant that is famed for its beer, pizza and seafood. 2799 N.W. Myhre Road, Silverdale. 360-698-5879.
Where to stay
Bainbridge Island is loaded with B&Bs, and you’ll find plenty of motel choices in Bremerton, Silverdale and Poulsbo. Here are two options to consider.
— Bainbridge Island Beach Cottage. This vacation rental offers stunning views from the 100-foot beachfront location. Suitable for up to three people. 206-999-9655.
— Poulsbo Inn & Suites. A short walk from quaint downtown Poulsbo, the Poulsbo Inn & Suites provides a nice lodging location for the end of a day of wine touring. 18680 Highway 305, Poulsbo.
There is plenty to do on the Kitsap Peninsula. Enjoy a stroll on the beach at Point No Point in Hansville, tour the USS Turner Joy in Bremerton or shop downtown Poulsbo.
Day 3: Northern Olympic Peninsula
Cross the Hood Canal floating bridge from the Kitsap Peninsula to get back onto the Olympic Peninsula and begin exploring the northwestern corner of the continental United States.
The Victorian town of Port Townsend is on the Quimper Peninsula. From there, you can head west to sunny Sequim, which is in a rain shadow and gets only about 18 inches of rain per year. From there, you’ll continue on Highway 101 to Port Angeles, which is the biggest town on the peninsula and is across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria, British Columbia.
Several wineries have found homes on the Olympic Peninsula. Here is a sampling of what you’ll find.
— Marrowstone Vineyards. Based on Marrowstone Island southeast of Port Townsend, this is a working winery and vineyard producing wines using local and regional grapes. 423 Meade Road, Nordland, 360-385-5239.
— FairWinds Winery. Owner Micheal Cavett has been running this small winery for more than a decade in the outskirts of Port Townsend. He is one of the few wineries still crafting Lemberger, and he also makes Cab, Merlot, Gewürztraminer and a delicious dessert wine called Port O’Call. 1984 W. Hastings Ave., Port Townsend, 360-385-6899.
— Wind Rose Cellars. In downtown Sequim, winemaker David Volmut has created one of this town’s hot spots, with a winery, wine bar, food and jazz club. The wines are primarily Italian varieties. 143 W. Washington St., Sequim, 360-681-0690.
— Olympic Cellars. This winery on Highway 101 near Port Angeles started in 1979 as Neuharth Winery. It is housed in a century-old barn. 255410 Highway 101, Port Angeles, 360-452-0160.
— Camaraderie Cellars. Along a tree-lined road south of Port Angeles, Camaraderie is owned and operated by Don and Vicki Corson. They craft some of the finest wines anywhere, using grapes from top Columbia Valley vineyards. They have built a beautiful winery in a gorgeous and secluded location, a perfect place to relax and enjoy wine and nature. 334 Benson Road, Port Angeles, 360-417-3564.
— Harbinger Winery. While she was winemaker at Olympic Cellars, Sara Gagnon survived a plane crash in Olympic National Park. She decided to live life to the fullest and launch Harbinger, the northwestern-most winery in the continental United States. She crafts more than a dozen wines and also has beer on tap at her winery. 2358 W. Highway 101, Port Angeles, 360-452-4262.
Ciders are becoming a big deal in the Northwest, and if you’re interested in trying some, check out Alpenfire and Eaglemount in Port Townsend and Finnriver in Chimacum.
Where to eat
Port Townsend, Sequim and Port Angeles all offer many dining choices. Here are three to consider:
— Bella Italia. Long before Twilight was written, Bella Italia was a favorite restaurant in Port Angeles. It has since been featured in the novel and movie, perhaps coincidentally because its name matches the heroine’s. 118 E. First St., Port Angeles, 360-457-5442.
— Silverwater Café. Open since 1989, Silverwater is near the waterfront in Port Townsend. It features Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired cuisine with a Northwest twist. 237 Taylor St., Port Townsend, 360-385-6448.
— Alder Wood Bistro. This is more than just another restaurant. It’s a destination for foodies who care about local, organic, wood-fired cuisine. And it offers a terrific wine, cider and beer list. 139 W. Alder St., Sequim, 360-683-4321.
Where to stay
Port Townsend is a haven for B&Bs, and Sequim and Port Angeles offer many types of lodging, regardless of budget. Here are three places to consider.
— Manresa Castle. This century-old castle in Port Townsend is one of the top places to stay anywhere in Western Washington. It also serves delicious food, so it’s a great restaurant option, too. 651 Cleveland St., Port Townsend, 360-385-5750.
— Bishop Victorian Hotel. Near the waterfront in Port Townsend, the Bishop offers Old World excellence. 714 Washington St., Port Townsend, 360-385-6122.
— Lake Crescent Lodge. Keep heading west on Highway 101 to beautiful Lake Crescent and its historic lodge, built in 1937. It is in Olympic National Park and authorized by the National Park Service. 416 Lake Crescent Road, Port Angeles, 360-928-3211.
The northern Olympic Peninsula has no shortage of things to do. You can explore downtown Port Townsend, head to Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend (where the film An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed), hike the Dungeness Spit near Port Angeles, golf the many courses in and around Sequim or head to Hurricane Ridge south of Port Angeles for hiking.
Looking for an unusual adventure? Sara Gagnon, owner of Harbinger Winery, also owns Adventures Through Kayaking, and you can go kayaking, rafting or mountain biking with her or her partner, Tammi. It’s next to the winery on Highway 101. Call 360-417-3015.
-- Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine and wine columnist for The Seattle Times. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com..
-- ERIC NEURATH is a professional commercial photographer located in Port Angeles, Wash. See more of his work at ericneurathphotography.com