Seattle - Pikes Place Market - Fish Stall
Vineyards of the Pacific Northwest
A Microbrewery in Seattle
Pacific North West - Yamhill County, Oregon vineyards
The chefs at the International Pinot Noir Celebration
The salmon bake at the International Pinot Noir Celebration
USA's Pacific Northwest and the International Pinot Noir Festival
21 - 27 July 2010
Washington State and Oregon on the USA’s Pacific Northwest coast are producing world class wines in a dynamic and innovative environment. However as production is limited, and much of it is taken up by demand within the USA, the wines can be difficult to obtain here in the UK. With an opportunity to meet some of the legendary names of the Pacific Northwest wine scene as well as spending time in the exciting city of Seattle, this is a tour not to be missed and we are delighted to be returning to what has to be one of the most exciting up and coming wine regions in the world! As in previous years when we have offered this tour, we have scheduled it to co-incide with the highly entertaining and enjoyable International Pinot Noir Festival.
Our trip begins in Seattle, the hub of the Pacific Northwest’s coffee craze and home of TV’s Frasier. Seattle has been transformed from a conservative, tranquil city to one of progress and economic growth fuelled by technology. It is buzzing with life and is a dynamic place to spend a few days. Within easy reach of Seattle is Washington’s first premium winery, Columbia Winery and also the oldest, Chateau Ste Michelle.
Seattle is an easy twon to get around with good public transport systems and easy walking. Just a few blocks from our hotel is the Pike’s Place Market, brimming with fresh fish, colourful flowers, handicrafts and even its own micro-brew pub. Indeed, it is hard to ignore the mirco-brewing culture in Seattle and we will be sure to drop into one or two of the brew pubs, where an excellent good value meal can also be found, during our stay here.
After a few days exploring the wineries and sights of Seattle we head South to our next base near McMinnville, Oregon, home of the International Pinot Noir Celebration, which has now been running for over 20 years, to taste Pinot Noir. Over four days the event showcases the very best Pinot Noir from around the world. We will take part in two of the celebration’s events. Previous Master of Ceremonies have included British Masters of Wine, Jasper Morris, Jancis Robinson and Remington Norman.
Oregon has been producing fantastic Pinot Noirs since the late 70s when Steven Spurrier’s tasting in Paris won Oregon its first recognition as the New World home for Pinot Noir and many see the Willamette Valley as one of the world’s greatest regions for this variety.
We will visit some of the “heroes of Pinot Noir” (known locally as the Boys up North), the wineries responsible for putting Oregon Pinot Noir on the map – such as Eyrie Vineyards, Erath Winery and Ponzi Vineyards. Our final night is spent in Portland with time to explore the shops, museums, galleries and the world’s largest book shop!
It is not all just about wine – both Seattle and Portland have thriving microbrewery industries and are as serious about their beer and indeed their coffee as they are about wine. It is difficult to think of a food that cannot be grown, harvested or raised in the Northwest and throughout the trip will enjoy some great meals full of local ingredients in both our picnics and in top restaurants.
Seattle is beautifully set; there are mountains almost everywhere you look with Mount Rainier’s snow-capped peaks visible on a clear day. The natural beauty contrasts sharply with the very modern skyline of shiny skyscrapers representing more than two decades of development. It is a city very much alive and buzzing. Not as daunting or as fast paced as New York nor as impersonal as LA, Seattle is a fascinating city to explore. The colourful Pike Place Market where fishmongers and grocers alike keep the crowd entertained with their antics is fun to visit. The restored area of Pioneer Square is now filled with antique shops and cafés and is an interesting place to wander around.
The newly renovated and expanded Seattle Art Museum houses an interesting collection of masks, canoes and totems from Northwest coastal Native Americans. The Seattle Public Library is worth a visit simply for the building itself. Other attractions include the Space Needle (a 650ft observation station), Olympic Sculpture Park featuring Alexander Calder’s 39ft red-steel Eagle and, if you are a guitar fan, the Experience Music Project where a Fender Stratocaster demolished by Jimi Hendrix is displayed.
Flights are not included in our wine tour of the Pacific Northwest so that you have complete freedom to book with your choice of carrier and choose your own route. However we are happy to advise you on making your way to Seattle, Washington to meet the tour and are able to book flights on your behalf.
Following a visit late this March to the region for further research purposes by Lynette Arblaster and Tim Clarke we are delighted to confirm that we have changed and indeed upgraded the hotels offered on this tour.
In Seattle, we are offering the 4* Mayflower, a traditional family-run hotel that meets all the A&C requirements. This is a historic hotel, a short walk from all the best restaurants, breweries and attractions – and with its own superb bar – with an award winning barman, famed for his Martinis. The hotel is easily accessed from the airport by a direct train link that arrives minutes from the hotel’s front door.
In Oregon, for the Pinot Noir Festival, we are based at the beautiful newly completed Allison Hotel and Spa, which is undoubtedly the best accommodation in the region. (Tim had to drag Lynette away from here!). Here we have upgraded all the party to very spacious and stylish deluxe rooms. The hotel is set peacefully in the countryside in attractive landscaped gardens, with lots of comfortable places to sit and sip your glass of wine. There is a pool and spa. It is just around half an hour to the festival venue from here.
In Portland, our hotel is another traditional gem, The Benson, built at the beginning of the 20th Century, with beautiful public rooms, with Italian marble, Austrian crystal chandeliers and Russian walnut panelling. Bedrooms are classically appointed.
Extend your stay
If you would like to make the trip part of a longer wine holiday it is easy to get down to California from Portland. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route includes great West Coast cities such as Portland, Sacramento (deep in California’s wine regions), San Francisco Bay area, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. There is outstanding scenery of the Cascade Range with snow-covered peaks and further down in California the Pacific Ocean shoreline is featured. Please call for more details on how you can incorporate this wonderful scenic route into your holiday.
Alternatively why not consider exploring more of Oregon? You could relax on the beach or visit the rugged interior. Vancouver, Canada is just a short hop away or you could even get the ferry from Seattle up to Alaska.
Book now to be among the first to discover these outstanding wines!