You won't see much in the way of rolling vineyards on the west side of the Cascades, but there's plenty in the Seattle area to keep a wine enthusiast entertained.
Winery visits: The outer suburb of Woodinville, north of Kirkland on the east side of Lake Washington, is the site of several top wineries. You can easily visit three in one day.
Don't miss the showplace winery of Chateau Ste. Michelle, a sprawling estate with tours, tasting, a picnic area and even a vineyard.
Right across the street is the handsome Columbia Winery, where winemaker David Lake produces some of the state's most compelling cabernet sauvignons, as well as a broad range of other varietals.
For a change of pace, try a visit to the tiny, family-run Facelli Winery, with its facilities in a nondescript industrial park. Don't let the surro-undings fool you, Lou Facelli is a very talented winemaker, and the winery is the only place to buy some of his wines.
One winery worth visiting for the view alone is Snoqualmie, about 40 minutes east of Seattle. The wines are of average quality, but the picnic ground overlooks the Twin Peaks that lent their name to the television show.
I can't vouch for the food, but the Salishan Lodge (Great Northern Lodge in the series) has a spectacular wine list.
For directions and phone numbers of Washington wineries, write to the Washington Wine Commission, P.O. Box 61217, Seattle, Wash. 98121, and ask for a brochure. The phone number is (206) 728-2252.
Dining in Seattle: For a unique experience, try Cafe Juanita in the suburb of Juanita, not far from Woodinville. This excellent Italian restaurant has a winery, named Cavatappi, in the basement. When I visited, the wine, the food and the service were all exceptional, and the bread may have been the best I've ever had in a restaurant. Try the 1989 nebbiolo, one of the few American wines made from the noble grape of Barolo and Barbaresco.
In Seattle, there are many excellent restaurants that showcase Washington state wines. Among them are Fuller's in the Sheraton Hotel ((206) 621-9000), for expensive, first-rate cuisine; the casual, moderately priced Queen City Grill, 2201 First Ave. ((206) 443-0975); and Wild Ginger, 1400 Western Ave. ((206) 623-4450) for exceptional Asian cuisine and a first-rate satay bar.
Buying rare wines: These are just a few of many fine shops: Pike & Western Wines across from the Public Market, or the grocery next door, Louie's; or Champion Wines on Denny Avenue.
The Public Market: Whatever else you do in Seattle, don't miss this sprawling marketplace at the foot of Pike Street. You could spend an entire day in this warren of shops, restaurants and seafood and produce stands. Take the Lexington Market and all of Fells Point, mix them together and multiply by five, and you begin to get an idea of what the Public Market is about.