So, the significant other wants you to go on a trip to the Woodinville wineries. Maybe even take the tour at Chateau Ste. Michelle. And all you can think about is how you’d rather be plugged in to a fully-charged iPod that plays non-stop Kenny G until the battery dies. Well fear not beer fans, all is not lost. Into the valley of death rode the six hundred…
OK, so evoking The Charge of The Light Brigade is a bit over the top, but it kinda fits the context: Valley=Sammamish River; Six Hundred=Beer Fans. And we do have something they didn’t have at Balaclava – the Redhook Ale Brewery – so my friends…
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Here’s the deal: cheerfully agree with the significant other and go check out the wineries, tour the Chateau, taste all the Columbia Valley Riesling, Cabernet and Merlot they can throw at you; only be sure to stipulate that you choose dinner. And make sure you leave enough time to take the day’s last Redhook tour – 5pm daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day (check website for other times).
Yes, I know, everyone says Redhook (as part of Craft Brewers Alliance – 35% owned by AB-InBev) has become one of the big bad boys – up there with Sam Adams & Sierra Nevada. But in fairness even these biggest of craft brewers are nowhere near the point of crossing to the dark side where the triumvirate evil empire of Bud-Miller-Coors holds sway. Well, OK, maybe Sam Adams has crossed over (read my rant).
And let’s not forget that Redhook did start out in Seattle at a former transmission shop in Ballard, expanded to Fremont, and today they still brew to strict craft brewing standards in the Seattle area at the Woodinville facility, so in my book they are still legitimate candidates for the honor of Puget’s perfect pint – particularly Redhook ESB – which is one damned fine brew.
The Redhook tour is an absolute blast – where else, for $1 (kids are free), can you get around a pint and a half of pretty good beer – more if you know your trivia (that’s your only clue) – and be entertained for an hour or so. And you’ll get to spend this time with a like-minded crowd.
This is a no-brainer place to take out of town visitors. The tour accommodates kids and teetotalers, and won’t leave ’em dry either – like we’ve experienced on winery tours (are you listening Columbia Winery?). My daughter – the only kid when we toured Redhook – was offered juice and soda to drink.
By the end of the Redhook tour you won’t remember the Chateau, and with any luck nor will the significant other. You’ll both be primed and ready for dinner at Redhook’s Forecasters Pub, and more tasty Redhook brew.
Now comes the fueled by beer part…
Naturally, with all this wine and beer, I would not expect anyone to drive – so leave the car at home. In fact, we’re going to work off some of the calories by getting to and from Woodinville Wine beer Country by hiking the Sammamish River Trail on, I would suggest, a fine day.
Make it a one-way trip by starting at one end and finishing at the other (Woodinville to Redmond / Redmond to Woodinville). Or make it a round trip by starting and ending at the same point (Woodinville or Redmond)
Walking distances from the bus stops are: Woodinville to Redhook 2.4 miles; Redmond to Redhook 4.5 miles.
To get to the trail from downtown Seattle via Sound Transit Express bus:
545 to Redmond – get off at 154th Ave and NE 85th St
522 to Woodinville – get off at the 522 off-ramp and 132nd Ave.