After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Reserved until the wine worked its magic

Less spitting, more drinking at Woodinville Reserve

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar - Smoked Duck Gorgers with a Cherry Compote
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar - Smoked Duck Gorgers with a Cherry Compote

Last weekend, when the rain was pouring in Vancouver, I packed my bags and went to Washington to check out Woodinville. While I could go there for many reasons such as drinking at a handful of the 98+ vineyards or going on a brewery tour, I was actually there to check out Woodinville Reserve.

Columbia Winery opened their doors to host the inaugural event that was overflowing with local wine, food and people. For two and a half hours guests wandered from room to room, exploring Woodinville wine and sampling food from nearby restaurants. At the beginning of the night many of the guests seemed reserved, pushy and in dire thirst, but as the night progressed personalities shone and I left with business cards of potential friends. Oh, the magic of wine. 

The event is coined "Reserve" because many of the wines featured in the event were limited bottlings and rated 90+ points. Prices were affordable (especially to someone who is used to ridiculous liquor laws in their province) and ranged from $14 to $60. As always, the price point did not determine the quality of the wine. 

Memorable wines included the vibrant 2008 Petite Sirah from The Bunnel Family Cellar and the Protagonist from J. Bookwalter Winery

Two Vintners stood out because they had a charismatic and jokingly cocky representative, Val, who asked if I wanted to try the best wine at the event. I can't lie, both the 2009 Zinfandel and Oliver (Petit Syrah and Grenache Blend) were delicious.

Lauren Ashton stuck in my mind because Kit Singh, the winemaker, told me that his winery is named after his 19-year-old daughter, Lauren, and his 3-year-old son Ashton. He even showed me a picture of the two, elaborating on the story by telling me that the photos used on the labels are from Astoria, where his wife is from. 

Kit Singh, Lauren Ashton

Picolla Cellars was unique because they were pouring wine from stainless steel kegs. I was told that wine in their 19.5L keg could keep for six months or more as long as it remains under pressure. Soon I was learning about inert gas, oxidation and spoilage, at which point I reached out my glass to be topped up with some Cabernet Sauvignon.

Piccolo Winery

The end of the night was near; more tasting, less talking. 

Food highlights were juicy burgers with homemade cheese sauce (made from mayo, jack cheese, cheddar cheese and pale ale) from Hollywood Tavern, Le Petit Terroir's house sausage on polenta and Barking Frog's Fiddlehead fern tempura salad with candied spring garlic aioli. Emily's Chocolates, which consisted of chocolate covered berries and sea salted caramels, were a deliciously sweet finish to the evening, especially when paired with the slightly effervescent Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Barking Frog

Hollywood Tavern Burger

Housemade sausage


While I was in Woodinville I also enjoyed a night at Willow's Lodge, a VIP tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle, a tour at Red Hook Brewery and brunch at The Barking Frog. 

Next time you're on route to Seattle, consider making a detour to Woodinville to check out what's in store; I guarantee you won't be disappointed. 

More in Travel

Great places to hike in British Columbia

These awesome BC hikes are some of the world's most beautiful.

Top 8 Vancouver Day Trips: British Columbia's beautiful hot springs

British Columbia's beautiful hot springs offer vacationers a relaxing way of being in nature or just kicking back. Get your soak on.

Sunshine Coast a year-round outdoor haven with plenty of 'Beachcombers'

Howe Sound is glass-still on the voyage from Gibsons Landing to Keats Island, save for the odd motorboat wake jostling the kayak. The peace is also broken momentarily as a seal bursts out of the...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.