In a sense, the Puget Sound AVA offers the best of all worlds for grape growers: The region’s long, mild, dry summers are offset by enough rainfall the rest of the year to grow grapes without the use of irrigation. The state’s coolest (and wettest) growing region receives 15-30 inches of rainfall annually, and its dearth of freezing temperatures protects its vineyards in winter.
All that said, the only AVA west of the Cascades grows just 1 percent of the state’s total wine grape output. Yet nearly 50 wineries dot the Puget Sound region, which is sandwiched between the Cascade and Olympic ranges — and which extends between the Canadian border and the city of Olympia. The sheer volume of high-quality wineries and tasting rooms, coupled with close proximity to some of Washington’s largest cities, makes it a popular touring region.
Cities and Towns
Seattle might be the biggest city in Washington, but Woodinville — a half-hour northeast of Seattle near the northern tip of Lake Washington — is the heart of Puget Sound’s wine scene. In all, more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms, representing every region in Washington, call the Woodinville area home. Further north, Bellingham is an ideal city for enjoying the wines of the Skagit Valley, which specialize in a number of Germanic varieties such as siegerrebe and agria.
Key Touring Routes
Puget Sound is the rare AVA where the region is best enjoyed by land and sea: A number of ferry lines head back and forth across the sound, connecting visitors on the more populated east side with the comparatively rural Olympic Peninsula. If driving, Interstate 5 runs north-south through Seattle and Bellingham, while Interstate 405 runs parallel on the east side of Lake Washington (and affords easy access to Woodinville). On the peninsula, Highway 101 heads west out of Olympia before turning north and eventually circling the entire Olympic Peninsula.
Washington’s oldest winery — Chateau Ste. Michelle — sits on 105 acres, and a palatial tasting room offers a fine introduction to its award-winning wines. Across the sound, Harbinger Winery prides itself on producing unconventional wines just outside Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. Harbinger’s wines have included a barbera, a bolero, and a blackberry wine (made with more than 2.5 pounds of fresh-picked blackberries).
Please remember to designate a driver.
– Written by John King. Updated by Matthew Wastradowski in September 2020