It’s no secret I love where I live. What I forgot to mention was that I also love living close to Eastern Washington. In the summer it’s because I love driving 30 minutes and magically going from 70 degrees and cloudy to 85 and sunny. In the winter you can be out of the rain and into the snow in less than 30 minutes. Being so close to the state’s other side means the ability to enjoy all four seasons – even when you can’t get them at home.
One of my favorite getaway spots is Lake Chelan. My kids love the lake, the water slides, jet skis, swimming. Basically all the hot weather fun. My husband and I love all those things too, but we also love the wineries. The Lake Chelan area was recently given its own AVA status. That means it is now officially an American Viticulture Area – and its own distinct Washington grape growing region. It’s a big deal in the wine industry.
There are 15 wineries along the shores of Lake Chelan. Most have stunning lake and mountain
views. Our favorite winery is Nefarious Cellars. The husband and wife owners, Heather and Dean Nef, live on the land where they grow their grapes. They have two young boys and a golden retriever named Lucy who greets visitors in the parking lot. It’s a small winery with great wines and a good following. We attempted to join their wine club two years ago after our first trip – and loving their wines. I remember standing in the tasting room and asking the owners where they got the grapes for their Syrah – as many wineries source grapes from other areas of the state. They looked surprised. They turned around, pointed and said, “right there.” Imagine looking out a gigantic picture window with a sweeping lake view and a hillside dotted with grape vines. I was sold! A year later we finally got a spot in the wine club.
We took our first winter trip to the lake recently. Summer crowds were gone, but the views were just as spectacular. Only this time the surrounding hills were snow-covered. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for three straight days. The trip was last minute since the mountain passes allowed for easy travel. We also got the added surprise of it being Red Wine and Chocolate Weekend at all the wineries. We stayed at The Lake House – a new, higher-end condo complex with a year round heated outdoor pool surrounded by heated concrete. The kids loved swimming outdoors when it was 35 degrees.
Mostly this getaway was simply a chance to relax, enjoy the views and the quiet. This type of trip is most often wasted on teenagers, but overall it was great. A pool for the kids, wine for the parents, lots of eating out at favorite restaurants. And all of this within 150 miles of home. The car ride was less than 3 hours – door to door. A mentally manageable drive – even with 4 restless kids.
Just another perk of living 25 miles from Snoqualmie Pass – easy vacation travel! Oh, and did I mention the fabulous BBQ joint in Cashmere near the Aplets and Cotlets Factory? Country Boys BBQ. Jenny says we made need to recommend it to Food Network’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives!
For more info on Lake Chelan visit www.cometothelake.com. For more information on Chelan area wineries visit www.lakechelanvalleywines.com.