Washington wineries have hatched a simple plan to ignite a little open-air romance: each of the state’s American Viticultural Areas (or AVAs) will furnish picturesque picnic locales where you can snuggle up to your sweetie (think rolling vineyards framed by snow-clad mountains), along with bottles of world-class wine. Live music provides the soundtrack. Naturally, you’re invited. Just don’t forget the blanket.
AVA: PUGET SOUND
Chateau Ste. Michelle, just 15 miles northeast of Seattle near Woodinville, has hosted picnic-friendly performances in its intimate amphitheater since 1984. Stock up on picnic fare The French Bakery at the Vineyard (16507 140th Pl NE) before nuzzling up to more than 70 wineries in the Woodinville area.
AVA: COLUMBIA VALLEY
Across the Cascades, the small town of Prosser is a thriving hub for wineries, with surrounding vineyards in Yakima Valley, Horse Heaven Hills and Snipes Mountain, three sub-appellations of the giant Columbia Valley AVA. Find picnic supplies in Vintner’s Village, a 32-acre playground for oenophiles that features meandering trails and greenbelts as well as elaborate tasting rooms for numerous wineries, including the estimable Apex Cellars and playful Airfield Estates.
AVA: RED MOUNTAIN / WALLA WALLA VALLEY
Vineyard picnics in Southeast Washington get a boost from world-renowned wines and spectacular Mount Adams views. Near Walla Walla, savor treats and sip the rewards of going “green” at àMaurice and Beresan, both of which tout sustainable growing practices.
AVA: RATTLESNAKE HILLS / WAHLUKE SLOPE / LAKE CHELAN
In Zillah, you can buy gourmet nibbles and dine by a koi pond at the Bonair Winery. Continue north to Mattawa in the remote Wahluke Slope AVA, and you’ll find the Ginkgo Forest Winery, a great place to stop for an outdoor bite to eat, especially if your final destination is the Lake Chelan AVA, where wineries such as Lake Chelan and Benson Vineyards Estate offer gardens for picnics, as well as live music and dancing to pair with sweeping lake views.
AVA: COLUMBIA GORGE
Pack your snacks and head for the Summer Concert Series at Maryhill Winery along Highway 14 southwest of Goldendale, where the Columbia Gorge AVA straddles the Columbia River. Relax in the giant terraced amphitheater and watch the sun sink down behind Oregon’s Mount Hood.
Photo credit: Maryhill Winery near Goldendale