The Woodinville Wine Ride: Tastings on Two Wheels
  • Washington’s wine culture has grown in tandem with the state's reputation as one of the most bike-friendly locations in the nation.
  • Taste and ride Washington's unique terroir on Sept. 19 during the Woodinville Wine Ride.

Washington’s wine and bicycling cultures have undergone a long fermentation to achieve their well-respected reputations. 

In addition to being recognized as one of the most bike-friendly states, Washington is the nation’s second-largest wine producer, with more than 80 grape varieties in cultivation and upwards of 1,000 wineries.

On Sept. 19, bike lovers and wine lovers can join together to celebrate these two cultures during Cascade Bicycle Club’s Woodinville Wine Ride.

Woodinville is the epicenter of western Washington’s wine culture. It is also a community that has created a thriving tourism industry based on outdoor recreation.

A lovely ride through Woodinville's Hollywood District. Photo courtesy Woodinville Wine Country. 

Wine Ride participants can pedal a 17- or 24-mile route, with stops to enjoy three sample pours and food tastings, plus a full glass pour and food trucks at the finish. Seattle residents can pedal to Woodinville from the city on the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River trails, or drive to the start and finish location at Woodhouse Wine Estates.

“This is a great opportunity to enjoy beautiful late-summer riding conditions on a mostly flat and low-car route,” says Dave Douglas, rides and community engagement director. “At the same time, you’re supporting our region’s family-owned wineries and raising funds for Cascade’s bike advocacy, education, and community programming.”

Washington and Woodinville Wine 101

Washington’s first wine grapes are believed to have been planted in 1825 at Fort Vancouver. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that the state’s wine reputation took root when the first large commercial vineyards were planted in the Columbia River Valley. In the 1970s, just as Cascade was successfully pushing to create the Burke-Gilman Trail, Washington’s first 10 wineries opened. 

In 1976, the state’s largest commercial winery, now named Chateau Ste. Michelle, moved to Woodinville. “Over time, other wineries congregated in this agrarian town and took advantage of office parks with roll-top doors that assisted with winemaking,” according to the Wine Enthusiast

Riders get three two-ounce samples, plus a full pour. Photo courtesy Woodinville Wine Country.

Woodinville now has more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Wine Ride participants will pedal sections of the Sammamish River Trail as it winds through Woodinville and neighboring Bothell, passing farmland and open spaces ideal for bird watching. Birders should pack binoculars.

Family Vineyards, Cascadian Terroir

Washington has an abundance of small, family-owned vineyards. Cascade partnered with multiple family wineries for the tour. In addition to Woodhouse Estates, participants will visit Cougar Crest Winery, Armstrong Family Winery, Gård Vintners, and Sol Stone Winery

Gård Vintners is a family-owned operation whose name means “farm” in Norwegian, a nod to the family’s Scandinavian heritage. “We specialize in Rhone varietals,” says Nichole Cruz, the tasting room manager. Gård produces about 8,500 cases per year, with all of its grapes grown on the “sustainably farmed” estate, Lawrence Vineyards, located in Washington’s Royal Slope AVA.

AVA stands for American Viticultural Area, a federally designated geographic region that establishes a wine’s terroir. Terroir is a word used to describe the flavor and characteristics imparted by the climate, soils, topography and environment of a specific region. Washington has 19 AVAs, nearly all of them located in the eastern half of the state where the dry climate and weather provide ideal growing conditions.

Happy participants in a previous Wine Ride come in for a refill. 

Cougar Crest Winery owns four vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley and the Milton-Freewater AVAs. “We are most famous for our cab franc, which is our most popular wine. It has won many awards over the years,” says Erin Thompson, the Woodinville tasting room manager. Cougar Crest is also women-owned. 

“We are located in a converted house, which gives our tasting room a comfy and homey feeling,” Thompson says, adding that they have a large deck and patio for outdoor seating. “We get lots of people on bikes visiting because we are so close to the Sammamish River Trail with lots of space for bike parking.”

Cascade encourages participants to buy a bottle or two from participating wineries to enjoy at a later date. Cascade will transport any bottles purchased during the ride to the finish line for participants to pick up. Participants also get snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, route and mechanical support, plus a Wine Ride souvenir.

As on all Cascade rides, electric bikes are welcomed. 

"We are excited to have Cascade Bicycle Club's Woodinville Wine Ride in town and to introduce local bicycle enthusiasts to world-class Woodinville wine," says Amber Schmitt, executive director of Woodinville Wine Country. "Woodinville Wine Country spans four Districts and bicycles are the perfect way to get around. The Sammamish River Trail runs through our valley and offers easy access to our local tasting rooms."

Let’s raise a toast to our state’s wine and bike cultures. 

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Paul Tolmé