On The Shores of Lake Washington: Kirkland, WA

Posted on 01. Sep, 2008 by in Lifestyle

words by Sheila O’Connor
Did you know Washington is the second largest wine-producing state in the country?  It’s true and wine making in the state has grown exponentially in the past 25 years. Just ask Larry Springer of the Grape Choice: “Nobody had any idea how much wine would be made in Washington. Twenty five years ago there were 15 wineries in the state and now there are 550.” But it’s not always just business when it comes to wine. Even though there is competition, families still have camaraderie, right down to the time when wineries shared fruit with each other when a freeze occurred in 2004. It would have caused families to produce no harvest had there been no help and goodwill from those who did have grapes.
And, as Larry knows, there’s no better place to check that fact out than at the Uncorked Wine Festival in Kirkland (a northern suburb of  Seattle on Lake Washington) every July.  Book your place in advance for next year’s event. It’s truly worth the adventure out to Kirkland. More than 60 wines from Washington wineries along with pairing plates and picnic boxes are on display.  Vintners and wine stewards are on hand to share information and tips.  The Artist Lane features the best of Northwest artists and musicians take the stage with live performances of classical and jazz throughout the weekend. 

One of the best places to stay while you’re at the festival is the Heathman Hotel – a new hotel that is as luxurious as you can get. It’s not for nothing that their motto is “Where service is still an art”.  Should you wish to try something more traditional, check out the Woodmark Hotel.  Guests can take advantage of a trip on Lake Washington for a token fee of $10 each and it’s well worth doing. One of the houses you’ll get to see is that of Bill Gates, along with his motorboat.  You’ll also get the unmistakable Seattle skyline and the Sleepless in Seattle floating home.   Not surprisingly, the waterfront is a popular place to watch brides and grooms have their wedding photography taken.

One of the nicest places to eat on the lakefront is the Yarrow Bay Grill at Carillon Point.  Enjoy a peaceful dinner as you look out onto the boat traffic of Lake Washington and the Olympic Mountains. There’s no better place to spend a summer’s evening.  There is a Wine Spectator acclaimed wine list here and the food is inspired from the Northwest and around the globe. Chef Vicky McCaffree has received numerous culinary awards for her delicious dishes.
The Trellis restaurant at the Heathman Hotel is also extremely popular and for good reason. The food here is market fresh and features products from local artisan producers.  Executive Chef Brian Scheehser, with nearly 30 years of culinary experience, practices sustainable farming on his three-acre nearby garden, growing many of the fresh ingredients featured in his signature “Two Hour Salad” where the ingredients are harvested within
two hours of being served.

Bridle Trails State Park
Bridle Trails State Park is a 482-acre day-use park, well known for its horse trails and equestrian shows.  You might be lucky enough to watch youngsters perform in a horse competition or see the world’s smallest horse on display. Alas, these little horses, a mere two feet high, only live for five years since they often come with health problems that don’t allow them a long life.  Adorable in any case and even non-horsey people will enjoy a day out at this beautiful state park.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
One of the most refined wineries to check out in the neighborhood has to be Chateau St. Michelle which was founded in 1934.  It has been producing classic European varietals under the Chateau Ste. Michelle label since 1967 and the winery combines an ongoing dedication to research with a commitment to world class winemaking traditions.  The Chateau Ste. Michelle enjoys partnerships with two of the world’s most distinguished vintners. Col Solare is an alliance with Tuscany’s Piero Antinori and Eroica Riesling is a partnership with the Mosel’s Ernst Loosen.  Take the wine tour – you won’t be disappointed. Built in 1912, the estate, which takes up 87 aces, was owned by lumber baron Frederick Stinsen and this was his summer home.  Over 1.5 million cases of wine are made here every year. 
Kirkland is a town well worth checking out.  As we raise a glass to the city, we say “cheers” to that.

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