Washington's Walla Walla Combines Sweeping Farm Vistas With a Luxe Wine Experience

On the north side of town, a winemaker’s recently opened resort ups the luxe factor for Washington’s original wine-tasting destination
  • Guests at the Eritage Resort drink in the view
THE VIEW FROM HERE: Guests at the Eritage Resort drink in the view

This article appears in print in the May 2019 issue, as part of the Wine Country Getaways cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Staying in downtown Walla Walla, with restaurants and tasting rooms just a few steps away, certainly offers a level of convenience, but true wine country magic resides in the vineyards. Nestled within 300 acres of vineyards and rolling wheat fields, Eritage Resort was opened last summer by founder and Va Piano Vineyards winemaker Justin Wylie, and it offers a luxury experience that strikes a perfect balance between awe and comfort.

About a 10-minute drive north of downtown, the resort is located at the end of a road that travels through wine country’s bucolic farmlands. The roofline of the resort, designed to mimic the sloping vineyard hills, swells gently upward from the landscape at the base of Lake Sienna, a man-made reflecting pond named for Wylie’s daughter. Ten guest rooms are located in the main building and offer views of the Blue Mountains to the east or the lake and vineyards to the west. Dotting the western shore of the lake are 10 individual bungalows that promise further privacy.

Eritage’s guest rooms have a way of making you feel as though you’ve arrived at the home you were meant to have. Soothing earthy tones are accented with pops of saffron and mustard; Garnier-Thiebaut linens adorn the bed. Shimmering throw rugs soften the dark wood floors; furniture lines are clean and modern, with a wink to vintage decor. Next to the room’s fireplace, a Nespresso coffee maker is presented on a muted-brass bar cart. Still or sparkling water, depending on the guest’s preference, awaits in a marble bottle chiller. Big-screen TVs operate via Roomcast to play your favorite music or screen a show from your own collection through your personal device. Private balconies and patios offer relaxing views in the quiet of this vineyard retreat. Attentive staff are happy to customize guests’ experiences by arranging on-site and off-site activities, such as in-room massages and wine tours. During the summer, food and drink service is available at the property’s saltwater pool.

After a day of wine tasting, the resort’s living room, with its soothing color  palette, is the perfect place to kick back

The bathrooms are suites unto themselves, with both a walk-in shower and soaking tub, the latter situated near a frosted window to let in the rosy glow of sunrise or sunset. L’Occitane personal products and little extras, such as a scented candle and bath salts, invite lingering in the white-tiled space.

In the evening, those extras include a tiny spritzer of lavender-scented pillow spray and a nightcap-size bottle of Baileys Irish Cream. In the morning, fresh house-baked goods, charcuterie, berries and yogurt comprise one of the best versions of a continental breakfast around.

Walla Walla, 1319 Bergevin Springs Road; 833.374.8243; $169‒$449

Farm-Chic Options

OLD AND NEW :The Inn at Abeja is a long-time favorite, offering accommodations in beautifully restored farmhouse buildings. Courtesy of The Inn at Abeja

Located on the tranquil and picturesque grounds of a former farm, the Inn at Abeja offers accommodations in restored turn-of-the-20th-century farmstead outbuildings. Ranging from country farmhouse chic to feminine English garden to masculine western ranch sensibilities, each suite has its own style. Stroll through the manicured grounds or soak in the sunshine on the expansive winery patio—Abeja is also a working winery known for its exquisite Cabernet Sauvignons (tastings available for guests). In the morning, prepare yourself for a spectacular breakfast that—if you’re lucky—will include the famous lemon soufflé pancakes with Maine wild blueberry compote. 

New to the scene is the The Barn B&B Walla Walla with seven guest suites. Photo by Victoria Wright

Scheduled to open in April, The Barn B&B Walla Walla—a “retirement” project by veteran hospitality-industry couple Anand and Naina Rao—resembles a barn only in its silhouette. The main building features a communal dining room with floating fireplace and a kitchen dressed up with a tile waterfall pattern that runs down the wall and onto the floor. There are seven guest suites: The Granary Suite is fashioned after a grain silo, complete with round walls, while the six Garden Suites are located in an adjacent building. Each suite features custom Italian glass sinks that coordinate with Naina’s original artwork, inspired by the silks of legendary fabric designer Jim Thompson.

Inn at Abeja, Walla Walla, 2014 Mill Creek Road; 509.522.1234; from $299/two-night minimum 
The Barn B&B Walla Walla, 1624 Stovall Road; 509.730.3662; from $300

Hungry? Try These Palate-Pleasing Choices

WHAT'S FOR DINNER: For more than a decade, visitors to Walla Walla have been enjoying the cuisine at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen including the signature braised beef cheeks. Photo by Colby Kuschatka/CDK Imaging

Come to town hungry, because there are splendid meals to be had in Washington’s southeast corner.

Guests at Eritage Resort need not leave the grounds for a locally sourced feast. Culinary director and James Beard Award–winning chef Jason Wilson and executive chef Brian Price have crafted a menu inspired by the bounty of local farms. The chefs pickle, preserve and ferment fruits and vegetables to use throughout the year and use local grains in the baked goods. Syrah-braised lamb shank; pan-roasted lingcod; fresh pastas smothered in delectables like chanterelles, herbed ricotta and truffle honey drizzle; along with Wilson’s Fire & Vine hospitality brand staples like spice-roasted carrots with chile yogurt, tahini, mint and almonds encourage a long, leisurely dinner.

Chef Chris Ainsworth and his wife, Island, have been setting the culinary standard in downtown Walla Walla for more than a decade at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen. The cuisine, which includes dishes such as lasagna with lamb ragu, halibut tagine, and patatas bravas with spicy tomato and aioli, has Mediterranean roots but uses Northwest ingredients. Don’t miss the restaurant’s signature dish: beef cheeks braised until tender and served with a seasonal purée, gremolata and horseradish.

Brasserie Four delivers on sumptuous French dishes, among them house-made rillettes and pâté, escargot and oysters, all of the frites—poulet, moules, steak—salads and inventive soups. Plus, it’s one of the only places in town serving European wines, including Champagne, to add context to all the local wines you’ll be tasting during your stay.

In the morning, the biggest challenge at Colville Street Patisserie is choosing which concoction of butter, flour and sugar best suits your mood: crisp caramelized kouign-amann, a rum-soaked canelé, brioche with fruit or just a perfectly flaky croissant. Desserts include seasonal tarts, crème brûlée and house-made gelato.

Brasserie Four, Walla Walla, 4 E Main St.; 509.529.2011
Colville Street Patisserie, Walla Walla, 40 S Colville St.; 509.301.7289
Eritage Resort, Walla Walla, 1319 Bergevin Springs Road; 509.394.9200
Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, Walla Walla, 330 W Main St.; 509.525.2112

Tasting Rooms

GLASS ACT: The tasting room at Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla is bedecked with glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly. Photo by Long Shadows

With more than 120 wineries in the Walla Walla area to choose from, deciding where to taste can be daunting. These wineries are known for their delicious wine—and a few extras.

Corliss: Giant wood beams extend from the brick exterior into a richly appointed tasting room. Taste small-production, estate-grown red wines by appointment only. Walla Walla, 511 N Second Ave.; 509.526.4400

Gramercy Cellars: Minimalist winemaking, restrained use of new oak and much patience make master sommelier turned winemaker Greg Harrington’s elegant wines positively preen. Walla Walla, 635 N 13th Ave.; 509.876.2427

Charles Smith Wines: This is the headquarters of Washington’s most rocking and rolling winery. Sip Smith’s “wines of substance” while tunes play all around you. Walla Walla, 35 S Spokane St.; 509.526.5230; winesofsubstance.com

Amavi Cellars: Light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows at this modern minimalist tasting room overlooking lush vineyards and the Blue Mountains beyond. On offer is a delicious lineup of red, white and rosé wines. Walla Walla, 3796 Peppers Bridge Road; 509.525.3541

Castillo de Feliciana Vineyard & Winery: With a gleaming white exterior topped by a red roof, this tasting room shines like the Spanish sun nestled among vineyards and garden boxes. Try pours of Spanish varietals such as Tempranillo and Albariño. Milton-Freewater, 85728 Telephone Pole Road; 541.558.3656

Doubleback: This new winery facility offers expansive views from a vintage-meets-modern living room setting, pairing those sights with superstar winemaker Josh McDaniels’ award-winning Cabernet and Syrah wines. Walla Walla, 3853 Powerline Road; 509.525.3334

Northstar Winery: A soaring stone fireplace, lodge-like interior and expansive patio set the stage for some of Washington’s best Merlot-based wines. Walla Walla, 1736 J B George Road; 509.525.6100

Tertulia Cellars: A clean, modern interior offers a variety of seating options in which to ensconce yourself before tasting your way through the winery’s Rhône-based blends. Afterward, hit the pétanque courts outside for a little afternoon fun. Walla Walla, 1564 Whiteley Road; 509.525.5700

Long Shadows Vintners: Sip a portfolio of world-class wines made by leading authorities as you enjoy this tasting room bedecked in Chihuly glass sculptures. Walla Walla, 1604 Frenchtown Road; 509.526.0905

Woodward Canyon Winery: Begin your tasting journey with Old World–inspired wines at one of the valley’s original wineries, located just west of Walla Walla in Lowden (Frenchtown). Lowden, 11920 U.S. Hwy. 12; 509.525.4129

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