If you’ve arrived on this page you must be a wine lover. You also must be one of the lucky people who have heard about the amazing wine that’s coming out of Walla Walla, Washington. If that’s the case you’re probably looking for some advice on the best places to stay, the tastiest places to eat, and of course the best wineries in Walla Walla.
Well, we’re here to help. We just got back from our second visit to Washington’s wine country and we did our best to eat and drink as much as we could possibly squeeze in, and I mean that quite literally. Yes, we needed to detox post-trip but it was well worth it. After all, it’s our job and we couldn’t possibly recommend a restaurant or wine to you without trying it ourselves right?
Our first visit to Walla Walla was back in 2016 and we fell in love with the town, and all it has to offer, leaving us with a thirst to return for more. Unfortunately, it would be two years before we had the opportunity.
WWander Walla Walla Valley
We were in the middle of planning a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and were trying to decide on a route. About that time we received an email from Walla Walla Wine Alliance inviting us to experience the third annual WWander Walla Walla Valley itinerary series. It took us about a minute to decide to re-route our plans and go through Walla Walla.
WWander Walla Walla Valley takes place in the fall from early-October to mid-December. It’s a series of custom itineraries, created by local winemakers, which showcase their personal favorite wineries, eateries, sights, and activities. It gives visitors a chance to see Walla Walla through the eyes of a local and helps with finding the tastiest food and best wineries in Walla Walla.
The itineraries work great as self-guided driving, or in some cases walking, tour but you can also hire a driver, book with a tour company or even use Uber.
Our Custom WWander Itinerary
The official start of WWander was to be a couple of weeks after our visit, plus we were there early in the week which meant some places were closed so we used the set itineraries as a guideline to create our own.
8:30 am: Breakfast at The Barn B&B
As we were staying at the absolutely fantastical Barn B&B (check back for a full review) we were all set for breakfast so we opted for a leisurely morning and 11 am tour start. However, if you don’t have breakfast included at your accommodation there are some great WWander suggestions. Try the eclectic menu at Bacon & Eggs, a classic diner experience at Clarette’s or some delicious pastries from Colville Street Patisserie.
11:00 am: Walk in Pioneer Park
We started our Walla Walla tour with a brisk walk around Pioneer Park to work off the breakfast and prepare for lunch! Pioneer Park has been on this spot since 1902 and there’s the usual sports fields, courts, playgrounds, walking paths, ponds and gardens, but there’s also the more unique additions such as a bandstand, outdoor aviary, and even a cannon and wedding fountain.
12:00 noon: Lunch at Andrae’s Kitchen
Lunch was at a gas station. Yep, you heard right. Andrae’s Kitchen is actually in a gas station but you won’t find better food anywhere! Andrae Bopp trained, traveled, and worked as a top chef all over the world before settling in Walla Walla. He started with a catering business and food truck and then added this surprising gas station restaurant to his repertoire. You’ll find a mouth-watering array of menu items from around the world that I call contemporary, fusion, comfort food. Oh, and he also smokes his own meat out back!
You’ll have a hard time deciding but we can wholeheartedly recommend the Premium Tacos (people travel many miles for the brisket tacos), the Smoked Prime Rib, the Halal Chicken and the Voodoo Fries…yes we ordered it all in one sitting! We had planned to return for the popular cold brew milkshake but never made it so if you try it please let us know.
1:00 pm: Wine Tasting at Dusted Valley
Dusted Valley, on the Southside, was the first stop on our wine tasting tour and as is the case with many of Walla Walla’s establishments there’s a good story to be told. It all began in 2003 when two sisters from Wisconsin, Cindy & Janet, picked up and moved to Walla Walla with their husbands, Corey and Chad. They came with a dream of starting a winery and today their dream is a reality with three estate vineyards and tasting rooms in Walla Walla and Woodinville, WA.
Our wine picks: Chardonnay (Nathan’s choice) and Syrah (Sarah’s choice)
2:00 pm: Wine Tasting at Tertulia Cellars
Next up was Tertulia Cellars. Tertulia is a Spanish word meaning “a social gathering of friends” and based on our experience the team really take this to heart. We were joyfully greeted by managers, Kristine Bono and Ryan Driver, plus head winemaker, Ryan Raber. Before we had a chance to look around the lovely tasting room we were hustled out back where they had laid out a charcuterie plate and wine glasses overlooking the vineyard.
But that was not to be the only highlight. The two Ryans soon introduced us to their favorite game called Petanque. I won’t try to explain it but let’s just say if you have the chance to play at Tertulia while sipping wine you will have some wonderful memories to take away along with wonderful wine.
Our wine picks: Cabernet Sauvignon (we agree!)
3:00 pm: Wine Tasting at Dunham Cellars
Our third stop was Dunham Cellars in the Airport District. Dunham Winery is housed in a remodeled airplane hanger dating back to WWII but you’d never know it once you step inside the large yet cozy and beautifully decorated tasting room. If you’re a fan of Washington wines you’ve likely heard of Dunham Cellars as they’re widely recognized as solid winemakers and if you haven’t then you’re in for a treat. Make sure to take some time to wander around as you taste and take in all the lovely and unique crafts and designs.
Our wine picks: Cabernet Sauvignon XXI (Nathan’s choice) and Three Legged Red (Sarah’s choice partly for the dog on the label)
4:00 pm: Wine Tasting at Kontos Cellars
As we were planning dinner downtown we chose Kontos Cellars as our final tasting stop. The perfect conditions for winemaking and the quaint and quiet beauty of Walla Walla have drawn in people from all over the USA who now call it home. This means that is can be difficult to find a true born and raised Walla Wallan. Kontos Cellars can provide that, along with great wine, as the family behind the winery has been in Walla Walla for six generations!
Their experience, skill, and passion for winemaking are obvious from the first sip and you’ll likely find yourself wanting to linger in their lively tasting lounge where there’s often live music. Oh and be sure to ask about the story behind the dragonfly.
Our wine pick: Malbec (we agree!)
5:00 pm: Wander Downtown
There are dozens of charming boutiques, cafes, art galleries, breweries and of course wine tasting rooms in downtown Walla Walla so we spent some time before dinner wandering the pedestrian-friendly streets.
6:30 pm: Dinner at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen
It really was difficult to decide where to have dinner because Walla Walla has an abundance of great eateries. However, Saffron won us over with their promise of Mediterranean fare as it’s one of our favorite cuisines and we were not disappointed. We began with a couple of fancy seasonal cocktails, then shared the Wood Grilled Octopus and followed with Lingcod en Salsa Verde and Blue Valley Meats Ribeye.
Everything was delicious, the service was great and the atmosphere was intimate and cozy making it a great spot for a romantic dinner or an evening out with friends.
8:30 pm: Nightcap at Hattaway’s on Alder
Although we were tired and full we had been told by our wine pourer at Dusted Valley that we shouldn’t miss a craft cocktail at Hattaway’s with mixologist Chad Nixon. They have a pretty good cocktail menu but you can also just tell Chad what you like (sweet, sour, smoky, type of alcohol etc) and he’ll create a delectable libation just for you.
Our Picks for Best Wineries in Walla Walla
With more than 120 wineries and tasting rooms in and around Walla Walla we have barely scratched the surface but after two separate visits here are our favorites:
Note: Walla Walla Valley wineries are split into five districts and we’ve sampled a little of each and suggest you do the same because they all have their own unique personalities and offerings.
Southside and Oregon District Wineries (set among vineyards this area offers spectacular views)
- Dusted Valley: see above
- Tertulia Cellars: see above
- Castillo de Feliciana: Spanish-stlye tasting room in a pretty setting
Downtown Wineries (if you’re staying downtown there are over 40 tasting rooms to create your own walking tour)
- Kontos Cellars: see above
- DAMA Wines: Lovely tasting room for an all-woman owned and run winery with great wines and wonderfully artsy labels
Westside District Wineries (home to some of the oldest wineries in Walla Walla)
- Long Shadows Vintners: Beautiful tasting lounge adorned with Chihuly Glass (by appt only)
- The Walls Winery: A fun-loving winery and tasting room with fabulous wine labels
- Waterbrook Winery: One of the first wineries in Walla Walla with a modern tasting room and great views
- L’Ecole No 41: One of the oldest wineries in WA housed in a former schoolhouse
Airport District Wineries (a unique are of wineries housed in refurbished WWII buildings)
- Dunham Cellars: See above
- Elegante: Small, award-winning winery run by an almost one-man-show
Eastside District Wineries (a growing area within pretty Mill Creek)
- Walla Walla Vintners: Lovely Italian-inspired winery with a look to quality over quantity
- Tranche Cellars: Sleek and modern tasting room nestled in the countryside
Note: Remember if you’re visiting October-December the WWander Walla Walla Valley itineraries are a great way to plan your tastings of both wine and food!
Our Picks for Best Restaurants in Walla Walla
Again we have by no means tried every eatery in town but we’ve had a good sampling! Here are the places we’ve tried and loved:
- Andrae’s Kitchen: see above
- Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen: see above
- The Marc Restaurant at the Marcus Whitman Hotel: Formal dining with Pacific Northwest cuisine
- Passatempo Taverna: Very popular place with handmade pasta and rustic Italian cuisine
- Walla Walla Bread Company: Serving delicious homemade pastries, breakfast, and lunch
- Wingman Birdz & Brewz: Casual sports bar with a large selection of brews on tap and the best wings around
- Big House Brewpub: Lively pub with a tasty menu and fun atmosphere
Note: Next visit we plan to have breakfast at Bacon & Eggs, lunch at Green Lantern and dinner at Hattaway’s on Alder!
Where to stay in Walla Walla
We’ve only stayed at one place in Walla Walla because during our first visit we were house sitting. On our recent trip we were hosted at The Barn B&B and just cannot say enough good things about our experience.
The Barn B&B is fairly new but it’s been in the workings for years. As is the case with many Walla Walla residents, Naina and Anand Rao are not originally from the area but after visiting years ago they fell instantly in love and knew they would eventually set up a home and business there.
After traveling and working for many years in high-end hospitality around the world this charming couple has created one of the most unique and hospitable B&B’s we’ve ever encountered. The setting is serene and scenic, the suites are beyond comfy and luxurious, breakfast is absolutely out of this world, and the attention to detail and graciousness of the hosts complete the picture of perfection.
We will be writing a full review soon but for now, I’ll leave you with this as a teaser: private outdoor showers in a Zen garden, exotic 3-course breakfasts, and heavenly beds that adjust to each individual’s comfort.
Accommodations recommended by friends and colleagues:
We haven’t stayed at these places but they all come highly recommended by people whose opinions we trust.
- The Inn At Abeja: A romantic inn with a lovely vineyard setting
- Green Gables Inn: Charming 1900’s historic building with beautifully refurbished rooms
- Eritage Resort: Award-winning resort in a scenic setting or rolling fields and vineyards
- Marcus Whitman Hotel: Historic, full-service hotel in downtown Walla Walla
If none of these suit your needs or if you’re looking for something more basic we suggest checking with your favorite bookings site. We always use TripAdvisor or Hotels Combined to check prices, availability, and reviews.
We hope this article has helped you to decide on your next Walla Walla wine and food tasting experience. If you aren’t able to visit during the WWander Walla Walla Valley event don’t worry, Visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Wine Alliance along with the close-knit community always have something fun and delicious going on. Check out their websites for upcoming events.
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