Sunday, April 17, 2016

Travel Diary: Taste Leavenworth + Goose Ridge Winery

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my boyfriend in Seattle and we decided to check out Leavenworth for the weekend. Leavenworth is a small city in western Washington that is modeled after a Bavarian village. My boyfriend did his exchange in Austria and has always loved the culture so he was definitely on board with the idea.

Getting There

We spent a lot of time deciding whether we need a rental car or not. We decided to just risk it with my old Corolla and actually there was no problems at all. We were worried about snowy conditions but we drove on April 2nd and 3rd and conditions were fantastic with no snow on the roads at all. From what I've read:

Hwy 2: More scenic, takes a bit longer, 2 lanes
Hwy 90: Less scenic, can be faster, 4 lanes

We took highway 90 both ways and happy to report there were no steep inclines/declines and that it was a relatively easy drive!

In terms of hotels, try to stay in a hotel near downtown so you can walk back and forth. We stayed at Linderhof Inn which was affordable and in a great location. There is a free breakfast but we did not wake up in time to try. The room was clean but not exceptional. One thing I liked about our stay is that we were able to play in the putting course by Enzian Inn which was next door and the course had mountain goats! We also dropped by Enzian Inn a couple of times to pet rabbits they had in their lobby. *priorities are on point*.

Taste Leavenworth

It just so happens that the weekend we went is their annual Taste Leavenworth event. It was really popular this year and sold out within an hour on Saturday! You buy a passport ($30) that contains coupons that you can redeem from shops around the town. All the coupons featured some type of  "pear" inspired ingredients. We used our passports SO much and had tons of fun discovering the different shops. There were almost 30 coupons to use!

At first I was worried that we wouldn't be able to use a lot of them as they are within restaurants and you would need to have a meal to use the coupon. But all the vendors were super generous and friendly and you do not need to purchase anything at all to use the coupons! The coupons were generally for snacks and drinks including many alcoholic beverages!! Some of the samples were smaller but others were so generous!

Here are some of my favorite finds from the Taste Leavenworth Passport:
-Chicken Pear Sausage at Leavenworth Sausage Garten
-Pear Vodka Lemonade at Wok about Grill
-Spiced Pear Italian Soda at Heidi's Buns & Kaffee Haus
-Espresso at J5 Coffee

Beer and Sausage at Leavenworth Sausage Garten

Spectaular views of the mountain and a delicious cocktail at Wok About Grill

We also ate at Munchen Haus and Andreas Keller which are the two top rated restaurants on TripAdvisor. Both of these are very German inspired and exactly what we were looking for. Leavenworth is best known during Oktoberfest and Christmas times but there's lots to do in the spring and summer as well.

Leavenworth celebrates “Spring Sensations” in April which is a month long "prost" to the pear. Did you know, the Leavenworth region exports the largest organic pear harvests in the world! There are tons of events and all the shops have a pear focus in April. Every single pear I ate during Taste Leavenworth was soft, juicy and so flavorful! If you like drinking, make sure to check out Ale-Fest April 22-23, for $20 you can try out beers from 20 breweries.

If you like to plan further ahead, don't miss a very traditional German festival called Maifest happening May 13-15th. This year is unique in that a new 95 foot Maipole will be raised during the celebrations which is only done every 15 years!

Goose Ridge Winery

As if we didn't already have enough drinks from the Taste Leavenworth passport coupons, we also stopped by Goose Ridge Winery's tasting room to sample some of their famous wines. Goose Ridge is a family owned and estate grown winery located in Columbia Valley in Central Washington. This area is the appellation Columbia Valley AVA which is sheltered from the rain by the Cascade mountains. They are well known for their blends as well as Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon and also has two lines of more affordable wines called g3 and Stonecap.

Leavenworth Tasting Room

We visited four other wineries in Leavenworth as part of the Taste Leavenworth program and can say the Goose Ridge Winery is the nicest we went in. It is also the only one with outdoor seating which is going to be so great in the summer time! The winery also has tasting rooms in Richland and Woodinville. Tasting fee is $10 and is waived if you buy a bottle! The tasting allows you to sample five of their selections.

I learned a lot about wine science in my course UBC but my palette definitely needs fine tuning. We tried the GRV, Chardonnay, Sol Duc, Vireo and the Ice Wine. The tasting menu listed the intricate flavors of each but tasting two notes in a wine is already pretty good for me! The GRV is a blend of Viognier, Grenache blanc and Roussanne which are pretty uncommon varietals in North America. Both the Sol Duc and Vireo are red blends. The Sol Duc leans towards a traditional Bordeaux blend while the Vireo uses Syrah in addition to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Ice Wine was one of the sweetest I've tried and would be quite delicious with some ice cream.

The staff were really friendly and knowledgeable (shoutout to Chelsea for helping us!) and gave a nice background to the wines. You can definitely take your time to enjoy the wine sitting down or stand by the bar and have a nice chat with the staff. Even if you don't buy a bottle of wine, tasting rooms are always a fun experience and I'd definitely recommend you to check them out if you are planning a trip to Leavenworth.

 Overall Leavenworth is a great weekend trip and it can even be done in one day if you live close enough.  Have you been to Leavenworth? What are some of your favorite weekend trip spots?

Here are some other weekend trip ideas from Vancouver

*Taste Leavenworth passports and complimentary tastings generously provided by Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce and Goose Ridge Winery respectively*

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