With more than 200 wineries within a one hour’s drive of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick, together known as the Tri-Cities, the time is right to visit this Eastern Washington State region for a wine tasting holiday. And the Lodge at Columbia Point, a boutique wine hotel that opened in May of 2017, is the perfect home base while you sip, dine and explore the area.
While wet and wily Western Washington sees 35-38 inches of rain annually, Eastern Washington receives only about eight — and enjoys 300 days of sunshine. This dry and fertile region grows an incredible bounty of crops, including wine grapes that become world-class wines.
The Tri-Cities are well-situated for visiting some of Columbia Valley AVA’s top wineries, including those in the sub-AVA’s of Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills Rattlesnake Hills, Yakima Valley, and Walla Walla Valley.
Embracing its agricultural roots and thriving businesses has also meant becoming a hub of fabulous wine estate tasting rooms, chef-driven, farm-fresh cuisine, and a host of activities for visitors.
The Lodge at Columbia Point | With a serene view of the Columbia River and Columbia Point Harbor, a trip is only accentuated with a stay at The Lodge at Columbia Point. The hotel partners with some of the AVA’s best wineries. Each of the rooms and suites is named for one of these 82 wine partners. The 62,777 square feet hotel includes a restaurant, wine bar, pool, hot tub, exercise room, and a massage spa, as well as numerous guest spaces in which to relax with a glass of wine.
The same large Douglas Fir natural beams and trestles that greet you just outside the Lodge’s entrance extend to the Lodge’s interior. The stairs leading to the second floor restaurant use reclaimed wood and feature a hand-blown glass chandelier.
The Lodge is a wonderful example of handcrafted construction that blends into the sun-kissed landscape. Elegant yet casual, the emphasis is on relaxation — and on the award-winning wines that so define the region.
The Lodge Living Room | For me, the heart of the Lodge is the main floor living room. This welcoming gathering space is inviting and comfortable. Enjoy the library and open gas fireplaces. Comfy sofas, club chairs and table lighting encourage you to settle in. It’s here that wine partners take turns hosting social hours that include their wines, along with some nibbles. During my stay, I enjoyed tastings both evenings, with wines from Drumheller Wines and Alexandria Nicole Cellars. Check with the hotel for the schedule.
Just off the Living Room is the outdoor river view deck. Sitting around the welcoming outdoor fire pit presents just another option to relax with a glass of wine.
Food and Drink at the Lodge | In the morning, there’s a complimentary breakfast in Drumheller’s, the Lodge’s second floor restaurant. Floor-to-ceiling windows face the waterfront and start your day out right. The breakfast spread offers fresh-baked bakery items, salads, hot dishes, fresh and dried fruits, a yogurt bar, and Chef Pauline Garza’s homemade granola.
Vine Wine and Craft Bar is a great spot to stop for a glass of regional wine or a craft cocktail. Order bites from Chef Pauline’s small plates menu. Try this young and talented chef’s country-fried oysters and the excellent charcuterie board. (Don’t miss the pecan pralines and pickled grapes.) Get wine recommendations from Rod, the hotel’s sommelier; yet another opportunity to learn more about the area’s wines.
The same commitment to fresh, regional cuisine goes into the dishes on Drumheller’s dinner menu. Roasted vegetables and pan-seared Chinook salmon are two items you may find on the seasonal menu.
Lodge Amenities | The Lodge’s Woodward Canyon Spa features a tranquil hand-painted canvas wall. The Spa uses doTERRA products that will leave you refreshed for the duration of your travels. An exercise room is available. The open air pool and hot tub offers waterfront views and comfortable seating around a roaring fireplace.
Casually Luxurious Rooms | Spacious and well-appointed, my riverfront room includes a king-sized bed with excellent top-quality pillows and bedding, gas fireplace, and kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, bar sink, coffeemaker, premium coffee and teas. The kitchenette is stocked with coffee mugs, stemware, silverware, ice bucket, wine opener, and provides ample counter space for a snack when you relax with a bottle of wine. I stayed in the Felécitas Room; Felécitas is one of the excellent wines in the nearby Red Mountain AVA.
Small details matter. I appreciated the bedside charging stations and bathroom lighting that could be dimmed, making those nigh-time and morning transitions comfortable. The spacious bathroom features a large walk-in rain shower that thoughtfully place the faucets at the shower’s entry rather than near the shower head so water temperature can be adjusted without getting soaked. (It surprises me how rarely this is done.)
Wine Tasting | Enjoy nearby dining options in Richland, including Fiction @ J. Bookwalter Winery, LuLu Craft Bar and Kitchen, and The Kitchen at Barnard Griffin Winery. (Don’t miss a stop into the tasting room and the art glass studio at Barnard Griffin, where you can make your own art glass piece.)
Your biggest challenge will be in deciding which wineries to visit. Here again, the hotel’s sommelier can help. Interested in a wine tasting that includes food pairings, or a horseback ride or wagon ride through the vineyards? Those options are available. You may also want to visit the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center for a unique wine experience. Here, taste regional wines and enjoy educational exhibits, classes and attend events. The Center is named for Walter Clore, often called the “father of Washington wine.” Come away with even more knowledge about the diversity of Washington’s wine and terroir.
Explore the Tri-Cities Area | Besides wine tasting and fabulous local cuisine, the area offers much in the way of outdoor exploration. Three rivers in the area — the Columbia, Snake and Yakima rivers — offer scenic boating and paddling and there are miles of trails of hiking and equestrian trails.
Exploring the Tri-Cities can begin just outside the hotel’s riverfront patio. Stroll along some or all of the paved Richland Riverfront Trail that begins just at the Columbia Point Marina. The walking and biking trail is seven miles long. The trail is part of the extensive 23-mile Sacajawea Heritage Trail connecting Richland and Pasco, and across the Blue Bridge over to the Kennewick side of the river. For golfers, the Columbia Point Golf Course is just across from the hotel.
The Lodge at Columbia Point is an excellent lodging choice at which to base your stay while exploring the wines, cuisine and outdoors of the Columbia Valley AVA. And taking home your favorite wines finds will revive some great memories each time you open a bottle.
- The Lodge at Columbia Point, https://lodgeatcolumbiapoint.com/
- Visit Tri-Cities, https://www.visittri-cities.com/
- The Tri-Cities are a three-and-a-half hour drive from either Seattle or Portland. Or fly in to the Tri-Cities airport in Pasco, the state’s third largest airport.
- Traveling with your pet? Pet-friendly rooms are available at the Lodge at Columbia Point.
- Insider Tip: If you’re flying Alaska Air, the airlines allows each person to check a case of wine free of charge. Of course, the wineries are also happy to ship your purchases.