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.
Northern Olympic Peninsula
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.
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.