Cycling & Sipping the Walla Walla Valley
An itinerary with recommendations from Chuck Reininger, Winemaker & Owner of REININGER Winery & Helix Wines
This itinerary was a part of WWander Walla Walla Valley Wine in the fall of 2018.
The Walla Walla Valley is a celebrated road cycling destination in Washington state. The flat roads of the Valley are juxtaposed by the steep inclines entering the foothills of the Blue Mountains, making it accessible to all level cyclists. Cruising through wine country is the perfect experience for active wine enthusiasts!
Start your morning off as I do with a beautiful bicycle ride through the A-E (Agricultural Exclusive) Zone of Walla Walla. Hop on the Cottonwood Loop, pop over Five Mile Hill to Rooks Park. Here you’ll find the Mill Creek Bike Path to lead you back to town, in total about 20 miles. Email me in advance if you’d like bicycle route suggestions or visit the Walla Walla Valley Bike Map.
Fun Fact: If you’re an avid cyclist but didn’t bring a bike, Allegro Cyclery on Main Street has an expansive collection of bike rentals!
After returning your bike to Allegro, walk around the corner to Colville Street Patisserie and treat yourself to a whole milk double shot 8 oz latte and a chocolate croissant.
Begin your wine tasting adventure where the Walla Walla Wine Industry took root, by visiting the Westside Wineries near Lowden, Woodward Canyon, L’Ecole N°41, and Waterbrook (Walla Walla Valley’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th wineries). Don’t forget to make reservations!
Fun Fact: Chuck Reininger got his start in the wine industry at Waterbrook. He helped his friends, the Rindal’s, with their very first harvest back in 1984!
On your way back toward town, make a quick stop at Frenchtown Historic Site to learn about the Valley’s first European settlers, French fur traders, the longest Washington Territory Indian battle and the oldest cabin in the State of Washington. Then it’s on to the Whitman Mission National Historic Site. I like to consider myself an amateur geologist and love to explore greater Walla Walla in search of remnants from the ancient Missoula Floods. One of my favorite locations to view evidence of these cataclysmic events is from the top of Whitman Mission.
Visit REININGER Winery, the 10th bonded winery in Walla Walla. Get a sense of what makes Walla Walla wines so unique. We are known for our Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carménère.
Stop for a late lunch at Cugini Italian Import Foods. You can’t miss the Meatball Sub or the Tuscan Bean Soup. They also have a fabulous selection of imported and domestic meats and cheeses. Ask Michelle for a cheese sample; our favorites are the Beemster’s 2-year aged Gouda and the Pesto Gouda. Don’t forget to grab a Landjäger for the road! Note: Cugini is closed Sunday-Wednesday.
Take a drive over to the Southside Wineries and end up on JB George Road to visit Saviah Cellars or Pepper Bridge Winery. Saviah Cellars has been making wine in the Walla Walla Valley since 2000, and their wines reflect the unique soils and climate of the Walla Walla and Columbia Valley AVA’s. Pepper Bridge Winery was founded in 1998. They craft elegant wines sourced from estate vineyards.
Staying on the Southside, make a tasting appointment at Brook & Bull Cellars before heading back to town. Learn about their not-for-profit winery, VITAL Wines, and sample the latest fall line-up, the Malbec is a favorite. If you’re lucky, see what goes into a Walla Walla harvest by checking out their crush pad through the windows of their tasting room.
Fun Fact: Ashley Trout, winemaker & founder of Brook & Bull and VITAL Wines, made her Walla Walla wine debut by joining the REININGER winemaking team from 1999 to 2006.
For dinner, I love to bring friends and family to Brasserie Four, reservations recommended, for great continental French food. My favorites are the bouillabaisse and the lamb. I also love to peruse their wine wall to pick out something fun to pair with dinner.
For dessert, head down Main Street to Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen. Chef Chris Ainsworth’s sfouf cake paired with an after-dinner tea or coffee is a perfect way to end the evening.
Disclaimer: Please note that currently most Walla Walla Valley wineries are recommending that guests reservations to ensure social distancing and the best wine experience. Browse wineries and make reservations here.