Let’s Take a Road Rrip to Washington Wine Country

By DONNA HULL

Do you ever look at the Bitterroot Mountains only to wonder what’s on the other side? Well, I can tell you—it’s the wine country of Walla Walla, Washington.

When spring becomes a little dreary and soggy or the smoke from summer wildfires gets you down, take a road trip to Walla Walla. But rather than the Interstate, start the journey in Lolo where U.S. Highways 93 and 12 intersect.

Curvy Highway 12 may not be the quickest way to arrive in Walla Walla, but it’s certainly the most scenic. Keep a notebook handy to jot down future road trip ideas including a plan to return to Lolo Hot Springs and Clearwater, Idaho, for some mountain recreation.

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Cameo Heights Mansion B & B in Walla Walla,Washington.

Once you’ve negotiated the Bitterroots, the landscape levels out. On this seven-hour trip, we won’t be stopping in Lewiston for an excursion on the Snake River but mark that one in your notebook for another trip as well.

Continue on Highway 12 through Walla Walla (don’t worry we’re coming back) to our headquarters for this getaway at Cameo Heights Mansion Bed and Breakfast. Innkeepers Alan and Deanne Fielding have thought of everything to make the stay relaxing and enjoyable. In fact, after a delicious breakfast of panko crusted Eggs Benedict, you’ll be tempted to lounge around the pool area for the rest of the day. But then you’d miss all that fun (and wine) in Walla Walla!

Dama Wines. Walla, Wall, WA. Photo Courtesy of Dama Wines.

Photo Courtesy of DamaWines.

In spring and summer, flower baskets hang from street corners in this Washington wine city. The walkable downtown area provides plenty of browsing opportunities. Antique shops and boutiques compete with tasting rooms for your attention. After an hour or so of shopping, I recommend stepping into the tasting room at DaMa Wines to learn about an all woman winery that creates exceptionally good wine.  And who can resist a wine named DaMa Nation? Not me.

On another day, roam the countryside stopping at wineries. At Pepper Bridge, your tastings of cabernet sauvignon and merlot come with a view of the Blue Mountains. Or go back to school. L’Ecole 41 serves up wine in the second grade classroom of a 1915 historic schoolhouse.

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A delicious and beautifully prepared breakfast by Chef NathanCarlson.

Although excellent restaurants abound in Walla Walla, save one night to dine at The Vines located at Cameo Heights Mansion Bed and Breakfast (reservations required). Chef Nathan Carlson creates delicious meals based on locally sourced ingredients. Or meet another winery by ordering the tasting menu. Chef Carlson will wow your taste buds with courses that are paired with wines from the Walla Walla winery of the month. If it’s good weather, dine outside on the patio that overlooks the pool and orchards.

All too soon, it will be time to return to your duties in Missoula. This time, wind your way through the Palouse, an area of especially scenic rolling farmland, to Interstate 90. In another 7 hours, you’ll arrive home refreshed from a weekend wine jaunt to Walla Walla.

Disclosure: Bed and Breakfast.com and Cameo Heights provided for my lodging but the opinions are my own.

 See the entire Boomer’s In MissoulaArchive.

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Donna L. Hull writes about active travel for baby boomers at My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel. She is also the author of My Itchy Travel Feet, Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas, available at Amazon Kindle, Nook and iTunes.  See all of Donna Hull’sblogs.

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