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Wednesday, Sep. 08, 2010

The Herbies: Results of our 12th annual Great Northwest Wine Lists Competition


It appears as if maybe the worst is behind us.

A year ago, there were fears that another Great Depression was knocking at our door with a tin cup.

Thankfully, regardless of who deserves what credit, we haven't seen soup lines in Northwest wine country.

If many of the restaurants listed in the 12th annual Great Northwest Wine List Awards - aka "The Herbies" - look familiar, that's great. It means they're still in business, and their support of Northwest wines should be considered a key ingredient to the recipe for continued success.

Ron Zimmerman of The Herbfarm - this competition's namesake - uses this edition of his annual sidebar for Wine Press Northwest to note the recession actually added a spark to the rapid expansion of Washington wine into the Woodinville area.

In tough times, virtually every business searches for new revenue streams near and far. And were it not for Hedges Family Estates, the Herbfarm may not exist today. Fire claimed the original restaurant in Fall City in the winter of 1997. Subsequent zoning issues caused The Herbfarm to become a political hot potato in rural King County and turned Zimmerman's business into a nomadic operation for several years.

"Exhausted and cash strapped, working out of tents and trailers and on the verge of bankruptcy after limping along for two years, we moved the restaurant operations to the Hedges wine cellar in Issaquah," he said.

Then in 2001, Zimmerman and co-owner/wife Carrie Van Dyck moved to their garden spot along the Sammamish River. And they dominated our wine list competition for the next eight years.

We retired the Herbfarm as champion in 2008 and named the competition in Zimmerman's honor.

Meanwhile, The Ocean Crest Resort near the tiny coastal town of Moclips, Wash., pulled off a "three peat" as our Best Northwest Wine List, winning "The Herbie" for the third straight year.

Wine director Stephen Pavletich's support of Washington received validation for the second straight year by winning the Washington Wine Grand Award from the Washington Wine Commission.

And each year, we use the Wine Press Northwest/Herbfarm wine list competition to determine candidates for future restaurant features. Restaurants among our Match Maker alumni are denoted with an "E."

Best Northwest Wine List

The Ocean Crest Resort, Moclips, Wash.

Program: Economy trimmed the list, but there are still 29 pages of fabulous and famous Northwest wines at moderate prices. Among the star-studded lineup are Argyle, Barnard Griffin, Beaux Freres, Coeur d'Alene, Dunham, Januik, K Vintners, Leonetti, McCrea, Long Shadows, Osoyoos Larose, Quilceda Creek, Woodward Canyon, Ken Wright.

Policies: Broadening promotion of coastal connections includes Cadaretta, Reynvaan, Walter Dacon, Westport.

Pressings: Speed-skating great Apolo Ohno calls it his "favorite place to stay."

4651 Highway 101, Moclips, Wash., 98562, 800-684-8439, oceancrestresort.com

Outstanding Northwest Wine Lists

Bonneville Hot Springs Resort, Bonneville, Wash.

Program: List shows some transitioning away from local wineries to more famous and expensive Northwest producers, but more than a dozen Columbia Gorge wineries are featured.

Policies: During summer months, outdoor garden available for dining with wine.

Pressings: Map of Columbia Gorge wineries available to visitors.

1252 E. Cascade Dr., North Bonneville, Wash, 98639, 509-427-9711, bonnevilleresort.com

Bridgewater Bistro, Astoria

Program: Tony Kischner, formerly at the Shoalwater on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, understandably leans a bit more toward Oregon now, especially with whites and nearly 30 different Pinot Noirs, including Napa Valley transplant Robert Brittan.

Policies: By-the-glass values from Abacela, A-to-Z, Stimson and Waterbrook also available by carafe. Idaho Riesling by Ste. Chapelle remains.

Pressings: Rose category lists five Northwest pinks. Sweet tooth shows with more than 20 dessert wines.

20 Basin St., Suite A, Astoria, OR, 97103, 503-325-6777, bridgewaterbistro.com

Copperleaf Restaurant, SeaTac

Program: Short list is virtually all Northwest, which fits in with theme of property. Oregon checks in with Pinots red and white.

Policies: Most reds come off list at $70 or less, including Tamarack Firehouse Red ($36).

Pressings: Wineries using sustainable practices are denoted on list with green leaf.

Cedarbrook Lodge, 18525 36th Ave. S., Seattle, WA, 98188, 206-901-9268, cedarbrooklodge.com

42nd Street Cafe, Seaview

Program: Top of Blaine Walker's seafood-friendly list reads "We Love Northwest Wines!" and it's virtually 100 percent from Oregon and Washington.

Policies: Five NW roses available in summer by glass for $8 or less.

Pressings: Long Sword, new sparking house in Oregon's Applegate Valley, gets placement with its prosecco-style bubbly.

4201 Pacific Way, Seaview, WA, 98644, 360-642-2323, 42ndstreetcafe.com

Paradise Inn Dining Room, Paradise, Wash.

Program: Concessionaire at Mount Rainier National Park's recently renovated landmark keeps it brief, yet features large, reliable producers from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Policies: Most expensive bottle is Ste. Michelle's Cabernet Sauvignon ($35), which pairs nicely with the Venison Shepherd's Pie.

Pressings: Gift shop sells only one wine: Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot ($17).

Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park, 360-569-2275, mtrainierguestservices.com

Sun Mountain Lodge, Winthrop, Wash.

Program: Don Elsing's 30-page book contains 390 wines from Washington, 41 from Oregon, 2 from British Columbia and an Idaho ice wine from Ste. Chapelle.

Policies: Guests want local wines, so "mountain logo" goes next to North Central Washington entries.

Pressings: There are 82 Washington, 22 Oregon wineries represented. Recently staged a 3-day winemaker dinner seriers with Chateau Ste. Michelle's Bob Bertheau.

604 Patterson Lake Road, Winthrop, WA, 98862, 800-572-0493, sunmountainlodge.com

Best Washington Wine List

Campbell's Bistro, Chelan

Program: The headline atop the list at the Campbell's Resort dining room shouts "Wine Press Northwest Magazine's Best Washington Wine List" since 2004. George Van Over's reign is not over.

Policies: Of Lake Chelan's 16 wineries, 10 are represented. A dozen half-bottles from NW all-star producers, most for less than $23.

Pressings: Smiley faces symbolize personal NW faves. Of 20 bestowed, nearby Nefarious leads with 5.

104 W. Woodin, Chelan, WA, 98816, 800-553-8225, dineatcampbells.com

Outstanding Washington Wine List

Anthony's Pier 66, Seattle

Program: Popular location on Elliott Bay allows it to introduce tourists to Northwest wines, especially those made with "salmon-safe" practices.

Policies: Company won Victor Roselinni Restaurant Award from Washington Wine Commission in 1995.

Pressings: Atop list of signature cocktails is Northwest Kir, which uses Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut as base.

2201 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121, 206-448-6688, anthonys.com

Anthony's at Columbia Point, Richland

Program: Regional focus spotlights Yakima Valley, Walla Walla wineries, with glass pours just $5 during happy hour.

Policies: Washington dry rose taster ($9) offers samples of Barnard Griffin, Chinook and Dusted Valley.

Pressings: Wine manager Eric Zegzula is Washington Wine Commission's reigning "Sommelier of the Year."

550 Columbia Point Dr., Richland, WA, 99352, 509-946-3474, anthonys.com

Barking Frog, Woodinville

Program: One of the Northwest's most renowned resorts breaks out Woodinville in the first half, profiling about 30 wineries, listing the winemaker at each. Second half leads with "Washington beyond Woodinville," where Alexandria Nicole, McCrea and Walla Walla reign.

Policies: Standing category on glass pour is "Woodinville Features," which spotlights a red and a white from one winery within the city limits.

Pressings: "Barking Feature" often showcases a little-known Northwest winery, such as Haystack Needle, usually at an approachable price.

Barking Frog, 14580 NE 145th St., Woodinville, WA, 98072, 425-424-2999, willowslodge.com/wine_dine

Cafe Flora, Seattle

Program: Earth-friendly lines King Estate, Snoqualmie's "Naked" whites, Illahe's Gruner Veltliner and Mount Baker stand out on limited list.

Policies: GM Nat Stratton-Clarke built Northwest-heavy list, which jibes with his mission to support local organic farms.

Pressings: Regularly voted Seattle's best vegetarian restaurant by several organizations.

2901 E. Madison St., Seattle, WA, 98112, 206-325-9100, cafeflora.com

Churchill's Steak House, Spokane

Program: Big reds from famed Walla Walla producers, including new Drew Bledsoe/Chris Figgins Doubleback Cab ($170). Hometown bubbles by Mountain Dome. Nice showing by smaller labels Buty, Forgeron, Maison Bleue and Va Piano. Value with Milbrandt Traditions line, Alexandria Nicole's Quarry Butte.

Policies: Private wine lockers allow "owners" to buy wines below list price.

Pressings: The house Cab ($56) comes from Lake Roosevelt vines and made by Whitestone's Michael Haig.

165 S. Post, Spokane, WA, 99201, 509-474-9888, churchillssteakhouse.com

Masselow's Restaurant, Airway Heights

Program: Inland Empire wineries get page 1 billing at Northern Quest Resort & Casino's dining room with more than a dozen featured.

Policies: Among bargains are Barnard Griffin Merlot ($28), Dusted Valley Cab ($43), L'Ecole Syrah ($35), Rex Hill Pinot Noir ($40), Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling ($30).

Pressings: Grey Monk Pinot Blanc from British Columbia on offer for $26.

Masselow's Restaurant, Northern Quest Resort & Casino, 100 N. Hayford Road, Airway Heights, WA, 99001, 509-242-7000, northernquest.com/dining/masselows

Picazo 7Seventeen Wine Bar & Restaurant, Prosser

Program: Yakima Valley producers dominate Trina Cortez's list, which fits "Northwest fare with Spanish flair" slogan.

Policies: Corkage is $25 for California wines, $15 for others.

Pressings: Wednesdays turn lively because of specials on "Industry Night." Already busy chef/owner Frank Magaña now also runs Mojave in nearby Desert Wind Winery.

717 Sixth St., Prosser, WA 99350, 509-786-1116, picazo717.com

Purple, Bellevue

Program: Walla Walla, rather than Woodinville, wines seem favored. Tasting flights typically pit one NW wine vs. 2-3 from elsewhere. Full page of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Policies: If they don't carry that wine, corkage on first bottle is waived.

Pressings: It's a 72-page beverage list, so servers must be accustomed to waiting.

430 106th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA, 98004, 425-502-6292, thepurplecafe.com

Purple, Kirkland

Program: Similar program to Bellevue, but with only 44 pages and a bit more adventure with young wineries such as Airfield, Alexandria Nicole, Angel Vine, Efeste, Maysara.

Policies: If it's wine-by-the-glass, you can try before you buy.

Pressings: One flight of four whites features DiStefano (Sauv Blanc), King Estate's next (Riesling), Kyra (Chenin Blanc) and Winter's Hill (Pinot Gris.) Mission Hill 1992 ice wine stands out.

323 Park Place Center, Kirkland, WA, 98033, 425-828-3772, thepurplecafe.com

Purple, Seattle

Program: Christene Larsen oversees lists - which carry no capital letters - at all 4 properties. At 88 pages, this is the biggest and includes thoughtful array of lesser-known Oregon Pinot Noir.

Policies: Many of these wines can go out the door for 40 percent off list price.

Pressings: Rarely seen Corliss found here. "Homegrown" red flight spotlights youngsters Brand, Corvidae, Fall Line, Maison Bleue.

1225 Fourth Ave., Seattle, 98101, 206-829-2280, thepurplecafe.com

Purple, Woodinville

Program: Among tasting rooms within walking distance on list are Alexandria Nicole, Brian Carter, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Darby, DeLille, Dusted Valley, Januik, JM, Long Shadows, Mark Ryan.

Policies: Buy a case of your fave? Ask them about retail pricing.

Pressings: Glossary of terms in back makes for dinner conversation.

14459 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville, WA, 98072, 425-483-7129, thepurplecafe.com

The Melting Pot, Spokane

Program: Walla Walla and Willamette valleys show up in abundance on this international list, particularly with big reds and Pinot Noir.

Policies: Local vintners include Arbor Crest, Barrister, BridgePress, Coeur d'Alene, Mountain Dome, Latah Creek, Lone Canary, Nodland, Robert Karl, Townshend.

Pressings: Va Piano red blend named for Gonzaga's Father Bruno raises funds for outreach program he founded.

Crescent Building, Second Floor, 707 W. Main Ave., Spokane, WA, 99201, 509-926-8000, spokanemp.com

Tulalip Bay Restaurant, Tulalip

Program: Tommy Thompson offers 200+ wines from Washington as well as Oregon Pinot Noir at Tulalip Resort Casino's fine-dining spot.

Policies: Each multi-course dinner by James Beard invitee Dean Shinagawa can be ordered with wine pairings. List of winemaker dinners includes Spring Valley, Betz, Quilceda, DeLille, Lachini, Andrew Will, Barage, Grand Reve.

Pressings: Nice touch to carry many of Northwest Totem Cellars' acclaimed wines.

10200 Quil Ceda Blvd., Tulalip, WA, 98271, 360-716-1500, tulalipresort.com

Tuscany Rustic Italian Bistro, Prosser

Program: Focus is Prosser-area wineries, with featured wineries available as glass pours.

Policies: Wines on list priced at near retail.

Pressings: Chef/owner Jessie Ayala, born/raised in Prosser, went through South Seattle CC acclaimed culinary program.

602 Sixth St., Prosser, WA, 99350, 509-786-7600, eattuscany.com

Valley Cafe, Ellensburg

Program: Gregory Beach made commitment to pair cuisine with Washington wines in 1981.

Policies: List is 90 percent Washington. Featured winery of the month includes public tasting during First Friday Art Walk.

Pressings: Wine shop in adjacent deli.

105 W. Third Ave., Ellensburg, WA, 98926, 509-925-3050, valleycafeellensburg.com

Visconti's Restorante Italiano, Leavenworth

Program: More than half of the 500+ list is Washington, which includes 100 entries from the Columbia Cascade region.

Policies: Affordable pricing of local wines.

Pressings: Co-owner/chef Daniel Carr continues to oversee the wine program.

636 Front St., Leavenworth, WA, 98826, 509-548-1213. viscontis.com

Visconti's Restorante Italiano, Wenatchee

Program: Candy Mecham's original restaurant sticks closer to Wenatchee-area wineries. Back is loaded with big Washington reds.

Policies: Nice snapshots of older vintages from some Walla Walla legends.

Pressings: Restaurant celebrated its 25th anniversary Jan. 1.

1737 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA, 98801, 509-662-5013, viscontis.com

Best Oregon Wine List

The Joel Palmer House, Dayton

Program: More than 500 Pinot Noirs to pick from, including more than 20 half bottles, makes it the quintessential list for Oregon wine country.

Policies: Second-generation chef Christopher Czarnecki includes page for wines he's recently sampled to help guests with selections.

Pressings: Needs wineries that start with U and X to complete alphabet. Stag Hollow winemaker Mark Huff creates house Pinot Noir.

600 Ferry St., Dayton, OR, 97114, 503-864-2995, joelpalmerhouse.com

Outstanding Oregon Wine List

Adam's Sustainable Table, Eugene

Program: Sourcing organic, all-natural ingredients primarily from 75-mile radius.

Policies: Colored dots indicate level of sustainable practices at winery. Pink is highest.

Pressings: Executive chef Adam Bernstein, grad of New York's Culinary Institute of America, is regular participant in McMinnville's International Pinot Noir Celebration.

30 E. Broadway, Eugene, OR, 97401, 541-344-6948, thesustainabletable.com

Anthony's at the Old Mill District, Bend

Program: Opened in 2004, blend of NW wines has centerpiece as "Oregon's Three Ps" - Pinot Noir, Gris and Blanc. There's state-grown Chardonnay, too.

Policies: Seasonality offering of "warm-weather wines" by glass directs guests to wines by Erath, Foris, R. Stuart's Big Fire.

Pressings: Map of Oregon appellations includes note that more than 50% of state's 13,700 acres are planted to Pinot Noir. Diners feast on views of Deschutes River, Mount Bachelor and Three Sisters.

475 SW Powerhouse Dr., Bend, OR, 97702, 541-389-8998, anthonys.com

Cascade Dining Room at Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood

Program: 5-time Oregon past champion remains strong with Oregon Pinot Noir, isn't shy on Washington reds, either. Young Gorge winery Springhouse Cellar checks in with four placines.

Policies: More than 20 wines by glass. Weekly staff meetings give servers confidence.

Pressings: Jason Stoller Smith, who left Timberline Lodge for Dundee Bistro in 2002, returns to replace his retired mentor - legendary Leif Erickson - as executive chef.

The Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, OR, 97028, 503-622-0700, timberlinelodge.com

Celilo Restaurant and Bar, Hood River

Program: Columbia Gorge focus represents more than 10 different wineries.

Policies: Corkage is $20/ $40 for magnum.

Pressings: Reserve list includes Pinot Noir from classic 1999 vintage.

16 Oak St., Hood River, OR, 97031, 541-386-5710, celilorestaurant.com

Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River

Program: GM Paul Robinson, well-known among Columbia Basin restaurateurs, has restored this historic property and renewed its reputation for supporting Northwest wineries.

Policies: Return of winemaker dinner series includes Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe in Prosser.

Pressings: New home for Northwest Wine Summit competition.

4000 Westcliff Dr., Hood River, OR, 97031, 800-345-1921, columbiagorgehotel.com

Cork & Stein Bistro, Springfield

Program: Pour list features nearly two dozen wines, including Four Graces, Sweet Cheeks, Melrose, Volcano, nearby Silvan Ridge and Julianna.

Policies: Jacqueline "Jax" Girard serves only Oregon wines. Free tasting with single winery each Friday.

Pressings: Bought wine/beer shop, transitioned into small-plates service. Follow "Jax" on Twitter.

2108 Main St. Springfield, OR, 97477, 541-736-9463, corknstein.com

Dundee Bistro, Dundee

Program: Wines throughout Oregon featured in this wine country restaurant/wine shop owned by the Ponzi family.

Policies: Weekly wine seminars required for staff. Each wine is poured into Riedel.

Pressings: Second-generation winemaker Luisa Ponzi oversees list, which also caters to local winemakers with international entries.

100-A SW Seventh St., Dundee, OR, 97115, 503-554-1650, dundeebistro.com.

Jory, Newberg

Program: The Allison Inn & Spa and manager/sommelier Tom Bean take Burgundy vs. Willamette angle to the 30-page list.

Policies: Corkage is $20, with 2-bottle limit.

Pressings: Many ways to experiment with more than 50 wines available as tastes, glass pours, more than dozen half bottles.

2525 Allison Lane, Newberg, OR, 97132, 503-554-2525, theallison.com.

Five Spice Seafood & Wine Bar, Lake Oswego

Program: Nice assortment of not only Oregon reds/whites, but also quality from Washington.

Policies: Tip from subscriber in Portland raved about Sunday nights when wines are half-price.

Pressings: Abacela enters rarified air as cult wine with 2005 Reserve Tempranillo at $125.

315 First St., Suite 201, Lake Oswego, OR, 97034, 503-697-8889, fivespicerestaurant.com.

Riverside Grill, Hood River

Program: Jan McCartan ensures that Best Western's Hood River Inn supports Columbia Gorge wineries, listing nearly 20 of them.

Policies: Most bottles available for less than $50. Staff collaborates with Viento's Rich Cushman on house "cask" red, a Sangio/Barbera blend that's $15 for half-liter.

Pressings: Restaurant observes its 45th anniversary this year.

Hood River Inn, 1108 E. Marina Way, Hood River, OR, 97031, 541-386-2200, hoodriverinn.com.

Best B.C. Wine List

Local Lounge & Grille, Summerland

Profile: All wines on 16-page list come from 100-kilometer radius. Distance is listed.

Policies: Only wines with Vintner's Quality Alliance earn spot. More than 20 available as 3-ounce pours, with three ice wines as 2-ounce tastes.

Pressings: Christa-Lee McWatters Bond resigned from nearby Sumac Ridge (4 km) to launch this with her husband, Cameron, and famous father Harry McWatters.

12817 Lakeshore Dr., Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa, Summerland, BC, V0H 1Z1, 250-494-8855, thelocalgroup.ca.

Outstanding B.C. Wine Lists

Bistro 101 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver

Profile: Granville Island academy instructs students with regional ingredients, so provincial wines dominate. Sommelier Tim Ellison's keen knowledge of Okanagan shows with CedarCreek Ehrenfelser, Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc, Wild Goose's Mystic River Gewurz, Hester Creek Merlot.

Policies: "Best of B.C." wine flights feature 2-ounce tastes of 3 wines.

Pressings: No B.C. Rieslings and just two total - Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen's "L" from the Mosel.

1505 W. Second Ave., Vancouver, B.C., V6H 3Y4, 604-734-4488, bistro101.com

Fetch Restaurant, Ucluelet

Profile: Remote luxury resort on Vancouver Island's west coast gears cuisine/list to provincial ingredients.

Policies: Wine cellar, carved into coastal rocks, is temperature controlled by seawater with views of Pacific.

Pressings: One travel writer likened this $50M complex to something owned by a James Bond villain.

Fetch, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Marine Dr., Ucluelet, B.C. V0R 3A0, 250-726-4800, blackrockresort.com

O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar, Vancouver

Program: Listel Hotel jazz club continues to spotlight Blue Mountain, Burrowing Owl, Joie, Kettle Valley, LaFrenz. Blue Mountain Pinot Noir, Wild Goose Riesling, JoieFarm pink available by half-liter.

Policies: Mission Hill's Prospector Chardonnay a bargain at $18.

Pressings: Economy must be picking up. Wine director Calvin DesChene reports seeing more Washington, Oregon license plates.

1300 Robson St., Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, 604-661-1406, odoulsrestaurant.com.

Best Idaho Wine List

The Orchard House, Caldwell

Program: If it's not made in the Snake River Valley AVA, it won't be sold here.

Policies: Bottles sold virtually at retail prices.

Pressings: Miceli Winery doesn't have formal tasting room, so Sherri McCoy and Kris Thompson pour tastes of his wine on request.

14949 Sunnyslope Road, Highway 55, Caldwell, Idaho, 83607, 208-459-8200, theorchardhouse.us.

Outstanding Idaho Wine Lists

Brick 29 Bistro, Nampa

Program: Idaho's industry takes center stage with more than 20 in-state wineries represented, including hard-to-find reds from Fraser Vineyard.

Policies: Most wines priced near retail and less than $40. A taste of Vale's Riesling is just $2.75.

Pressings: Call ahead to reserve chef Dustan Bristol's lacquered bacon.

320 11th Ave. S., Nampa, ID, 83651, 208-468-0029, brick29.com.

Red Feather Lounge, Boise

Program: Past award winner returns with renewed focus on Northwest wines and local farmers.

Policies: "Probably the No. 1 restaurant in Idaho educating customers on all the great wines in Idaho, Oregon and Washington," a nominating winery owner wrote.

Pressings: Blue lighting of glass spiral staircase/wine storage ranks among most unique features in Northwest wine country.

246 N. Eighth St., Boise, ID, 83702, 208-429-6340, justeatlocal.com.

The Sandbar River House, Marsing

Profile: Fans of Ste. Chapelle can find 10 of their favorite wines, none priced at more than $19.

Policies: Remains perhaps Northwest's least expensive wine list. More than 30 wines available, only one is more than $30 - Davis Creek Tempranillo ($30.95.)

Pressings: Restaurant overlooks Snake River with distinctive Lizard Butte rock formation just beyond.

18 Sandbar Ave., Marsing, Idaho, 83639, 208-896-4124, sandbarriverhouse.com.

Sidebar: Recession not all bad in Woodinville

When I was growing up along the green fringe east of Seattle, the kid next door announced one day that his family was decamping to Woodinville.

Whaaaa …Woodinville! The. End. Of. The. Earth.

As if to prove it, I never saw him again.

Now, a few decades later, I'm happily ensconced in that very same town.

But it's not the same place.

The hunters and the horsey set of the valley floor have pretty much been replaced by vintners and happy bon vivants transported on four wheels, not four legs, as they travel from winery to crush pad to tasting room.

Woodinville is now the wine mecca for the greater Puget Sound region. In addition to the early pioneers such as Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia and DeLille, the valley is now home to, well, no one knows for sure how many wineries. There are at least 60. And maybe 80 or more when all of the tasting rooms are counted.

Ironically, the recession has been beneficial to wine drinkers in the Seattle area. By cutting out the middle layer of distribution, wineries happily sell directly to the tasting public.

And what better place to do it than by opening in Woodinville, a mere 20 minutes from Seattle?

So load up the car and make a day or weekend of it.

We also await you, ready to fete you with a legendary nine-course dinner and the largest selection of Northwest wines found in any restaurant in the world.

Here's to Northwest wines.

Cheers!

- Ron Zimmerman, co-proprietor, The Herbfarm