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Wine Weekend in Walla Walla, Washington

In the middle of the Palouse, find a thriving wine scene and all the good things that go with it.

Colorful hot air balloons drift over Walla Walla during the annual Balloon Stampede.

Greg Lehman Photography

Sights and Events

Blasts of hot air fill brightly colored envelopes as dozens of balloons lift off like giant lanterns from Howard-Tietan Park. Sunrise flights over town are the highlights of the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede (Oct. 16–20 this year). Bring along a blanket to watch the action, or book a ride for the ultimate experience. 

Eats

Gas station fare takes on a flavorful, creative edge at Andrae's Kitchen. The hip counter-service eatery—located in a Cenex convenience store—has earned numerous national awards. The halal-style chicken with chef Andrae Bopp's magical white sauce may transport you to Morocco; brisket tacos come topped with Oaxacan cheese and charred salsa. Grab a bistro table at the front of the store and count the Foo Fighters posters hanging on the walls. (Bopp has catered for the band.) 

Crossbuck Brewing and Walla Walla Steak Company both recently opened inside an old train depot; the original wallmounted timetable now details what's on tap. Once inside the main door, turn left to visit the pub for beers such as Hazy Schmazy IPA, made with Pacific Northwest hops. Turn right for the upscale steak house. The Hatchet, a bone-in prime rib eye, is so big it merits tableside carving. Reserve the 1950s train car parked outside for private dining.

Eritage Resort opened in June 2018 on 300 acres about seven miles north of town. In the on-site restaurant, chef Brian Price focuses on seasonal offerings from the region, matching them with wines of similar provenance. Locally raised beef short ribs, Frog Hollow beets with merguez sausage in curry yogurt, and a craband- corn soup compete for attention with views of the vast landscape outside. 

a greater yellowlegs (sandpiper family) strolls at McNary National Wildlife Refuge in Walla Walla, Washington

A greater yellowlegs strolls at McNary National Wildlife Refuge.

MerryLynn Denny

Outdoors

With hundreds of miles of country roads surrounding the town, Walla Walla is a cyclist's delight, especially in fall when temperatures back off from broiling to comfortable. Shops like Allegro Cyclery  organize group rides three days a week. Check out the website for Walla Walla Valley Cycling to download maps and get ideas for putting together your own bike tour of nearby wineries.

More than 350 bird species either migrate through the Walla Walla region or call it home year-round. The McNary National Wildlife Refuge—at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, 45 miles west of town—is a great place to spy on at least 200 of them. Migrating waterfowl arrive in October, and eagles—both bald and golden—can be seen all winter; a rare palm warbler was recently spotted nearby.

a hand holds a small, clear, cut-glass dish with chocolate truffles garnished with lavender sprigs outdoors with lavender field background

Bright's Candies enhances truffles with lavender.

Greg Lehman Photography

Shops

Tucked inside a historic 19th-century building downtown, Bright’s Candies is a symphony of sweets best visited with a full supply of willpower. Paul Jenes, the shop’s Willy Wonka, trained at New York’s Culinary Institute of America before taking over the store in 1996. Watch through the window as he makes wine cordials, salted pumpkin caramels, and lavender truffles. 

Brook & Bull sits on a 10-acre wheat field about five miles south of town. That’s where star winemaker Ashley Trout practices her craft, turning out malbecs and rosés from grapes that thrive in the region’s rich soils and hot, dry climate. Visit the tasting room—designed in a Southwestern style—to sample the results and get acquainted with one very friendly cat. 

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