As part of my quest to visit every winery in the state of Washington, I recently spent a long weekend wine tasting Langley, Washington. Located on the south end of Whidbey Island overlooking the Saratoga Passage, Langley is a small town (population a little over a thousand) that embraces an artisan spirit in its small town environment.
With charming inns, cottages, and bed and breakfast, and seven wineries in or around the area, Langley makes a perfect getaway weekend for wine tasting, great food, and outdoor enjoyment. Whether you choose to visit during one of their special wine events, or just plan a getaway on your own, this information will help you get the most out of the bits and bites found in the Langley area.
There are three main wine events in Langley, each offering a chance to enjoy the best in food and wine. All are sponsored by the Whidbey Island Vintners and Distillers Association, which means that participation is for member wineries only, but it does provide a nice sampling of the wine in the area.
- Red Wine & Chocolate is held two weekends in February and, as the name and calendar suggests, has a romantic theme.
- Savor Spring is a food, wine, and spirits tour held in May.
- Autumn on Whidbey is a harvest celebration that showcases wine, spirits, and art and is held in November.
Wine Tasting Langley, Washington
There are seven wineries in the Langley area and although they are fairly close to one another – just a few minutes apart – you will need a car for your visit. Select a designated driver, hire a car and driver, or decide to Uber it, and drink responsibly.
- Blooms Winery – Owners Ken and Virginia Bloom have been making wine since 1998 and have a decade of national and international award winning wines to show for it.The tasting room is located at historic Bayview Corner and features wine, food, music, and art. Friday night is open mic for musicians, writers, and performance artists, and Sunday afternoon is their music series. MJ Suggests trying the 2013 Blooms Poetic ($39), a blend or Syrah, Malbec, and Petit Verdot with good fruit, strong earthiness, and a lingering finish. This Seattle Wine Award Double Gold winner uses fruit from Yakima and the Columbia Valley AVAs.
- Comforts of Whidbey Island – This family-owned vineyard is located in a beautiful event space, so if you’re looking for a destination wedding spot, keep this winery in mind. At the time of my visit, the Comfort family was putting the finishing touches on rooms for an inn above the winery, these should be available for booking soon. In addition to the grapes grown on the estate, you’ll find frisky llamas and keep an eye out at night for the neighbor deer. We saw a mother and fawn as we were leaving at dusk. MJ Suggests trying the 2012 Malbec, full-bodied with tons of dark flavored fruit, ample tannins, and a smooth, smoky finish, made with grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.
- Dancing Fish Vineyards – Brad and Nancy Thompson decided to retire to the wine and entertainment business, and created the winery as a hospitality destination. Stop by this Freeland location, a short drive from Langley, for wine tasting or rent out the farmhouse for an overnight stay. The winery features estate wines from cool weather grapes as well as wines bottled from other AVAs. MJ Suggests trying the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($42) with grapes from the Red Mountain and Horse Haven Hills AVAs. Full-bodied with blackberry, cherry, and red plum flavors, and aromas of rich dark fruit, its supported by fine tannins and accents of cocoa and vanilla.
- Holmes Harbor Cellars – On a 20-acre wooded estate overlooking Holmes Harbor, this Tuscan-styled winery is owned by musician, pilot, and poet Greg Martinez and his wife, Theresa. Both are intimately involved in the wine business, living on the estate with their son and fur-children, and their passion for blending science and art help them in creating great wines. MJ Suggests trying the 2010 Red Etude ($37). Etude means a study in balance and harmony, and that’s just what this palate-pleasing blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah does. This signature wine has medaled at the San Francisco International and the Seattle Wine awards.
- Ott & Murphy Wines – Located on the historic waterfront in downtown Langley, this winery tasting room offers entertainment on Saturday nights and also has a small food menu. They specialized is small lots crafted in a French artisan style. The downtown venue makes it a perfect place to stop after an afternoon of shopping, strolling through town, or beachcombing, and the view adds to the relaxation and ambiance. MJ Suggests trying the 2010 L’Entente ($36), a Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre and Viognier offering aromas of blackberry and plum with wood spice accents
- Spoiled Dog Winery – This winery focuses on estate-grown pinot noir that supplements grapes purchased from organic vineyards around the state. Production is in very small lots, allowing for maximum attention to detail. Upon arrival at the winery you are likely to be greeted by one of the spoiled dogs, and although they weren’t the original one for whom the winery was named, they are clearly well-loved residents. MJ Suggests trying the Estate Pinot Noir ($34) with tangy and fruit forward strawberry overtones lead to black fruit flavors and a medium finish. I’m not a big fan of pinot noir, but winemaker Karen Krug made a wine/food pairing that brought out the delicious best of both.
- Whidbey Island Winery – If you arrive in Langley via the Mukilteo ferry, Whidbey Island Winery is the first one you’re likely to come upon. The winery focuses on crisp fragrant estate grown whites along with classic and unusual reds and whites from eastern Washington vineyards. There is a patio adjacent to the tasting room, so if the weather is warm bring a picnic lunch and let the friendly staff help you find the perfect pairing. If you’re lucky you’ll get a glimpse of Sangiovese, the winery cat. MJ Suggest trying the Double Gold award winning 2013 Sangiovese ($20) with aromas of leather, orange peel, and nutmeg, along with classic flavors of red cherry, blueberry, and strawberry jam.
Bring your wallet with you when you’re wine tasting in Langley – most of the wineries have small productions that are only available on premises or perhaps at a couple of shops around town. If you taste something you love, as I did, you’re going to want to take some home with you. And, since most of production is small case lots, if you love, you should buy it. It may be sold out before you get back. Most all of the wineries offer a wine club, so if you fall in love with a particular winemaker’s style, sign up to get first chance at the new releases.
For more information about where to stay, restaurants, and lots of ideas about what to do and see, check out the Whidbey Camano Islands website.