Wine Travel – Washington’s Eastern Region Shines

If you’re a wine travel lover, Washington is an especially rewarding destination. Practically everywhere you turn, there’s an interesting winery to discover, not to mention vibrant cities, natural wonders galore, and a pleasing four season climate.

In our estimation, many Washington wines are becoming as well known as California’s. It’s not surprising, as Washington is the second largest wine producing state in the country. To illustrate the importance of Washington’s wine industry, over 500 Washington wineries add almost $3 billion to the state’s economy, and employ more than 29,000.

There’s so much to discover about Washington wine, so let’s focus on Washington’s eastern area, known as the Inland Empire, and in particular the strikingly beautiful city of Spokane.

Introducing Spokane

One of the first things you’ll notice about Spokane is how the great outdoors literally snuggle up to this friendly city. Bisected by the Spokane River, white water rafting, skiing, cycling tours, and hiking opportunities abound. And yet, the vibrant pulse of this high tech city is always on display, with live music and fantastic restaurants just steps away no matter where you turn.

The city itself is wonderfully walkable, interspersed with historic architectural gems that have been restored and reinvented. Our first evenings discovery was the Davenport Arts District, a lively arts and entertainment area.

The Davenport Arts District is really where you’ll feel Spokane’s pulse. Historic buildings house galleries, restaurants, and unique shops. This is an ideal late afternoon and early evening stroll, with extra time the next day to fully appreciate all the District has to offer.

Just a few of the shops we discovered were Simply Northwest, which features specialty foods, wines, and regional gifts, and the whimsically named Spokandy, a local candy making institution since 1913. Next, it was time for dinner at the Steam Plant Grill, housed in an historic handsome landmark former steam plant.

This was dinner as it should be. Steam Plant Grill focuses on local ingredients, hearty portions, and reasonable prices. Try the planked salmon, beer cheese soup, and the basil cream ravioli. Don’t miss dessert … the vanilla bourbon stout float is made with the onsite brewhouse’s oh-so-delicious dark stout beer and creamy premium vanilla ice cream.

Spokane Wineries

Twelve wineries call Spokane and the surrounding area home. Spokane itself is compact enough, so driving distances aren’t burdening. Many of the wineries are clustered fairly near downtown, with others just slightly farther afield. Conveniently, 12 of the 14 are quite near the Spokane River, which bisects the Spokane area as it meanders east/west.

Wineries East Of Downtown

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars: Wine Spectator named Arbor Crest one of “50 Great Producers Every Wine Lover Should Know”. It’s located in the Cliff House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located high on a bluff overlooking the Spokane River, the view is almost better than the wine here. Look for award winning Cabernets in particular.

Knipprath Cellars: Located in a handsome old red brick schoolhouse, Knipprath boasts an impressive selection of Port wines, a favorite of ours. Have you ever tried a Vanilla Port or a Chocolate Port? You can here! We also loved the Moonstruck Merlot, with its notes of brown spice and plum.

Latah Creek Wine Cellars: If you like Rieslings as we do, you’ll enjoy Latah Creek. The extensive gift shop here is one of the nicest we visited on this trip. Also be sure to try a Washington specialty, the Huckleberry d’Latah. This wine is a blend of huckleberries, a small blueberry-like fruit, with Riesling.

Nodland Cellars: What a wonderful small boutique winery this is. Just like many European estate wineries, Nodland produces only one red and one white wine. These wines are aged in French Oak barrels, adding to the smooth complexity of the finished product.

Wineries North Of Downtown

Mountain Dome Winery: Located in the foothills of Mt. Spokane, Mountain Dome is something of a change of pace, as they are Washington’s premier sparkling winery. One of the key differences between production of sparkling wines vs. regular wines is the lengthy bottle aging, thereby producing a secondary fermentation. These wines are fun to drink, and add a new dimension to a wine lovers palate.

Townshend Cellar: This small winery north of Spokane offers small lots of quality wines, many of which have been praised by the wine press. The reds are the star here, especially the rich dark fruit taste of their Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wineries In And Near Downtown

Barrister Winery: We literally walked right into this winery, housed in a early 20th century brick building in the heart of the Davenport District. It’s red wine heaven here. Barrister produces limited quantities of Bordeaux style reds and Syrahs.

Grande Ronde Cellars: Wine Specator loves Grande Ronde Cellars, having raved about their Cabernet and Merlot. The real star for us, though, was the creamy Chardonnay. The bouquet of apricot and peach truly was the forebearer of great things to come.

Lone Canary Winery: This was our personal winner of “best winery name” in the Spokane area. But Lone Canary is more than just a name, although the logo is eye catching and named after Washington’s state bird, the wild canary. The wines here have great depth and complexity, from the deliciously fruity Cabernet Sauvignon to Bird House Red, a red blend.

Robert Karl Cellars: Located in the heart of Spokane’s historic warehouse district, Robert Karl Cellars specializes in premium Cabernets. These wines are ideal to cellar for a time to bring out their true mature flavor. In particular, we recommend the rich red Syrah and the Claret.

Vintage Hill Cellars: This downtown Spokane winery is a very comfortable and pleasant place to stop and taste. We bought a few bottles of Vintage Hill’s Sauvignon Blanc and the Riesling.

Of course, eastern Washington and Spokane are just a part of Washington’s wine scene. In the meantime, don’t overlook Spokane! This is an appealing destination whether you crave outdoor activities, historic architecture, city life, or all of the above!

Sparkling Wine Tours in California

If you are interested in taking a wine tour, but are just not in the position to leave the United States for weeks at a time, consider one of many sparkling wine tours in California. These tours offer you the chance to experience wine tasting, wonderful food, and a relaxing atmosphere, while still keeping you close to home. We can help you select a wine tour you’ll cherish your entire life.

The first thing to consider when planning a sparkling wine tour in California is what type of tour you are interested in. Some wine tours are full service. The tour guides will book your hotel, plan out your meals and transport you to and from wine tasting outings and other activities. These are a great option for anyone who is unfamiliar with the area or does not want to do a lot of work to plan their vacation.

On the other hand, many sparkling wine tours in California are a little less involved. Some of these tours will offer you the chance to find your own hotel and dining experiences, but still plan out and provide transportation to each wine tasting. This is a great option because you get the best of both worlds. You can spend time on your own, but still have an experienced professional show you all California wineries have to offer.

Finally, you may choose to experience the wines of California all on your own. You can easily set up your own sparkling wine tour in California. Find a book on the local wine tasting options and book them in advance so you know you aren’t missing anything. You can find a great hotel online or ask friends for recommendations. And don’t forget to make a list of great restaurants to experience while you are there.

Tips on Finding the Best Corporate Travel Agency

Have you heard of deals for discount first class airfare? You might wonder how “discount” and “first class” can be in one phrase when talking about air travel. It is possible to get affordable deals while getting the same first class treatment. If you are finding it difficult to believe, you might not be looking at the right places. You can get your way around soaring prices through simple techniques. Most people who have gone on first class flights follow these simple steps:

Reserve your seats early.

Airline companies offer tickets in lower price range if you reserve your seats one or two months prior to your planned flight. As there are fewer seats in the first class section, you might easily run out of available seats.

First class seats are more comfortable and have additional benefits unlike the business and economy class. There are more legroom, large reclining seats, a mini-bar, workstations, personal television, and sparkling clean lavatory when you travel first class. Comfort and privacy are common reasons why some people choose first class seats. You do not have to be wealthy to experience all of these, as some airlines offer affordable promotions during off-season.

You may quickly book your tickets through online travel websites. On the day of your trip, you can head straight to a special check-in counter for the first class section.

Compare prices.

Go online and check the prices airlines offer. They will have varying prices when it comes to first class flights. Carefully check the benefits you will get from each flight and decide which will be a more cost-effective option. Never settle for the deals they advertise. There might be hidden charges so make sure to inform yourself well on the packages they offer. Contact the customer service for clarifications on specific deals. It is not enough to rely on your own research, especially when you are new to purchasing first class tickets.

Be a member of travel websites.

You may get notifications or newsletters for discount first class airfare when you sign up on travel websites. As a member, you are the first to know when the airline cancels a flight. You may also get exclusive deals during holiday seasons.

Hire a corporate travel agent.

Travel agents can book you for a discount first class airfare whenever you need to travel. They can negotiate more affordable deals and take care of the necessary paperwork. Most people who go for first class are business executives who want a more comfortable flight experience. They hire a corporate travel agent to help them maximize corporate discounts.

If you are worried you might spend so much on your luxurious flight, a corporate travel agent can help organize a budget for you. They can also find discounts for hotel accommodations and car rentals. If you experience problems with your flight, they can assist you with rescheduling.

Knowing these techniques can help you get better deals on any type of airline travel.