Beer, Breweries & Brewpubs

Are you a beer lover? Interested in brewpubs & brewery tours? Did you know that Washington is the largest exporter of hops in the nation? We grow 70% of the nation’s hops used to make countless numbers of beers. And 2/3’s of the hops grown in Yakima Valley are exported to countries all over the world! There are 146 active breweries in Washington, now that’s a lot of beer. And there are even entire books written on beer in the Pacific Northwest. Wikipedia will provide a complete list of the breweries in our state, but here are some main attractions: Elysian Brewing Company, Pike Brewing Company, Pyramid Breweries, Redhook Ale Brewery, Rogue Ales and Scuttlebutt Brewing Company. And May through October, there are more than 30 beer festivals state wide, throw Oregon in the mix and there are over 40. If you love to celebrate beer, there’s no place better to celebrate than Washington State. Interested in a complete list of Washington’s breweries and brewpubs? Check out these guys: The Washington Beer Blog

And if you’re interested in staying local, here are some places to check out!

 

Brinnon’s Geoduck Tavern, located on US 101, and was one of Esquire magazine’s 2012 best bars in America due in part to its local beer selection. There is also the 101 Brewery at Twana Roadhouse which is known for its woman-made beers! The Geoduck is about 50 minutes from Union and the 101 Brewery is just over an hour.

And while we know this is supposed to be about beer, we need to also give mention to the Heritage Distilling Company which is located in Gig Harbor, about an hour from Union. They distill their own spirits and teach guests how to produce their own.  And much closer to home, the Hardware Distillery.

And we can’t wrap it up without a nod to our beverage cousin, cider. Home of the apple, we have more than a few to offer, but we’ll stay as local as we can. Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum or Eaglemount Wine & Cider in Port Angeles.  (both about 1.5 hours from Union)

Washington Is For (Wine) Lovers <3

If you love wine, wineries, wine tastings, all things wine, there are more than a half a dozen spots nearby and if you don’t mind a short drive, the options just continue to multiply. Washington State is the second largest wine producer in the nation, home to over 750 wineries. Our state’s vineyards lie at the same latitude as the classic wine growing regions of France. Washington wine touring information is broken down into 8 regions and the industry welcomes 2.4 million visitors annually. The South Sound/Olympic Peninsula area has more than 20 wineries alone! There are several annual events throughout our region including Olympic Peninsula Wineries Red Wine & Chocolate in February, Northwest Wine and Cheese Tour in April, Lavender Celebration in July, Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival in October and the Harvest Wine Tour in November.  And check here for more wine information and a free Washington State Wine Official Tour Guide.

Hoodsport Winery was established in 1978. They are located in the Olympic Peninsula with a stunning view of Hood Canal and just 12 miles from Union, WA. Hoodsport features smaller productions of unique varieties like, Island Belle and Lemberger-Cabernet. In addition, they specialize in Raspberry, Rhubarb and Loganberry wines. The gift shop and wine tasting are open daily 10am-6pm. They also do tons of events year round.

Mosquito Fleet Winery LLC is located in Belfair, about 15 miles from Union, WA. Two couples that met in 2000 had no idea that eventually the path of their friendship would lead them to open the Mosquito Fleet Winery in 2009. They chose the name as due to its historical significance that paid tribute to the maritime history of the Puget Sound and paid homage to the state’s first winery, which still stands just miles away. Visit their website to find out how to check out their hand crafted wines.

Walter Dacon Wines is located about 20 miles from Union, WA in Shelton. They specialize in Rhone and Mediterranean style wines and source grapes from select vineyard sites in the Yakima and Columbia Valleys of Washington State. The winery was established in 2003 when they barreled their first crush. By 2005 their tasting room was open and they debuted their first wines. The wines were well received and highly rated. With their unique and fascinating décor, they are destination winery. The tasting room is open Wed-Sun noon-6pm.

Stottle Winery and its main tasting room is located in Lacey which is just under an hour from Union, WA, but they also have a tasting room in Hoodsport, which is just 20 minutes away. Stottle Winery has been receiving press and many accolades since 2008 and has many award winning wines. Each tasting room location has its own hours and days of operation, so be sure to check their website before heading out.

The Nanstad Winery is located in nearby Grapeview, but is not open to the public. They specialize in red wines and their site explains where to buy their products.

Top of the Cork does not have a website, but their information is 18351 E State Route 3, Allyn, WA | (360) 275-5657. They are located about 30 minutes from Union, WA. Their tasting room features great Northwest wines from Washington & Oregon.

And for wine tasting the closest to home, head down to the Cameo which is about 3 minutes away. The Cameo Boutique Wine Shop offers wines from all around the world. Complimentary wine tastings are offered every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Special “after hours” wine tastings are offered by invitation.

Mountain Adventures

One thing we certainly have no shortage of here in Western Washington: Mountains. Our crowning jewel, Mount Rainier, her quiet sisters Mount Baker & Mount Adams, the sister with an eruptive attitude Mount St. Helens and of course scores of smaller peaks in the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains.

Mount Baker– Furthest from Union is the glorious Mount Baker located in the northern Cascade Region about 4.5 hours from Union. Mount Baker is one of the snowiest places on earth. In 1999 the mountain received a record annual snowfall of 1,140 inches. That’s 95 feet!!! Mount Baker is located in the Snoqualmie National Forest which is one of the most visited forests in the nation. “We have a little of everything to accommodate the most experienced outdoor enthusiast to the beginning hiker. The forest offers year-round recreational possibilities as well as educational opportunities. Tour the forest, visit one our lakes or rivers, go fishing, river rafting, bird watching, or for a change of pace try snowshoeing or skiing. Whatever your outdoor interest may be, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will amaze and inspire you. Come visit and learn what nature is all about and experience first-hand the stunning vistas, native plants and alpine ecosystems.”

Mount St Helens– Famous for her volatile eruption in May of 1980, the volcano itself is located about 3 hours from Union. There are two separate visitor centers, the Mount St Helens Visitors Center at Silver Lake and The Johnston Ridge Observatory. Approaching from the North/West side gives the best views of the residual destruction from that fated eruption of more than 30 years ago. Continuing to the east, Forest Road 25 or 99 offer the closest view of the crater by automobile. Obtain a permit and backpack through Mount Margaret back country for breath taking views and wildlife galore.

Mount Rainier– Closest to Union, at just about 2 hours, stands the most glorious of all our mountains, Mount Rainier. Standing at 14, 411 feet with 26 major glaciers, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated mountain in the 48 contiguous states. There are endless opportunities of exploration and education at Mount Rainier regardless of the season. Hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife and wildflower viewing and scores of other activities await. Choose a season, choose your comfort level and make the journey, whether for the day or the weekend. Need help narrowing it down, check out the top 10 things to do at http://www.visitrainier.com

Mount Adams– Mount Adams deserves an honorable mention here. It is very difficult to travel there from the western side, but not impossible. A 4.5 hour drive south through Portland and back north OR a 5.5 hour drive through the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest will bring you to the Mount Adams Recreation Area. Because of its isolation and remote location, much of Mount Adams is uninhabited and undisturbed. This makes it a popular area for those really looking to get away from, well, everything!

Mountain Climbing

Mountain climbing may not be for the faint of heart, but the scenery and the views will be among the most rewarding experiences of your life. There is no shortage of climbing adventures in Washington State, with hundreds of climbs for beginner, intermediate and advanced summit mountaineer. We are home to Mount Baker, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier. But between the Cascades and the Olympics, there are countless other mountains and peaks to climb.

Mount Rainier- Standing at 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier, our crowning beauty, is the largest mountain in the Cascade Range. The peak of this beauty is unique in that it offers 3 separately classified summits; Columbia Crest, Point Success and Liberty Cap. However, if you’re a serious climber, you probably already know this! Dozens of websites dedicated to providing information about climbing this extraordinary mountain are available.

Little Tahoma- Little Tahoma is actually a sub-peak of Mount Rainier standing at 11, 138 feet. It is the 3rd largest peak in Washington and is not often climbed because climbers are usually more focused on Mount Rainier. But Little Tahoma is rated 3 out 100 of the best climbs in Washington State.

Bonanza Peak- Bonanza Peak stands at 9,511 feet and is located outside of Chelan, WA. It is the highest non-volcanic peak in Washington. ” Bonanza Peak is considered by many people to be the most difficult county highpoint in the lower 48 States to summit because successful summiters must possess and use a wide variety of mountaineering skills. Many other mountains have longer approaches, steeper rock climbs, more difficult crux sections, and more glacier travel, but Bonanza Peak combines each of those aspects into one summit trip.”

Mount Olympus- While relatively unknown, reaching the summit of Mount Olympus is considered a rite of passage by climbers in the Northwest. The lower altitudes of the climb offer views of the Hoh River and one of the last remaining old growth forests in the continental US. From Glacier Meadows, you will traverse 3.8 mile long Blue Glacier to reach the Snow Dome before continuing on to the 7,962 foot summit.

Mount Ellinor- Mount Ellinor is located close to Union, only about 8 miles outside of Hoodsport. This is a tough but rewarding climb for the beginner. Mount Ellinor may only have 3,200 feet of elevation gain, but she is a steep climb. The top of Mount Ellinor boasts views of Lake Cushman, Hood Canal, Puget Sound, The Olympics and The Cascades.
Click here for a full list of the top 100 climbs in Washington.

Whistler, Vancouver, Victoria & Vancouver Island-Visit Canada

I heard an ad on the radio yesterday about Whistler’s opening weekend and thought it would be a great time to talk about visiting our neighbors to the north.  And because of Union’s premium location, getting there is no problem.  Are you looking for a weekend get-away? Sure living here is absolutely fantastic, but sometimes you just want to get away from it all, take in new sites, new faces, new dining experiences.  In about 6 hours, you can be in an entirely different country!  So get your passport ready to for a short road trip and visit Canada!

The official Whistler website says it it best: “We are all moment hunters.”  I love that.  100% true.  We journey through life hunting out those moments and experiences that will last the rest of our lives.  And taking this adventure will definitely create some of those amazing moments.  Visit their website to book a winter wonderland vacation!

Vancouver, approximately 4.5 hours from Union, is an award winning city recognized by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Unique elevation and climate make Vancouver one of the only places in the world that you can ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon. And for the golf lovers in our midst, in Vancouver, golf is always in season. Due to it’s rich history and culture, Vancouver is proud to host diverse culture and nationalities. And while there is plenty of natural beauty to be seen while visiting, Vancouver is also a cosmopolitan city filled with urban amenities and activities. Whether it’s a night on the town for dining and dancing or an educational experience of museums and learning centers, Vancouver has just what you’re looking for to enjoy a lovely weekend get-away.

Victoria is only about 4 hours from Union and includes a relaxing and picturesque two hour ferry ride. It is the capital of British Columbia and filled with inspiring views and scenery. Established in 1843, Victoria is chock full of historic buildings and must-see museums. And whether you’re with your family or taking a romantic get-away, there is plenty of things to do and see for all. Golfing, biking and fishing for the outdoor enthusiast or shopping dining and theater for the cultural buff, Victoria has you covered. And don’t forget to visit the city’s flower gardens which are famous all over the world!

Vancouver Island was rated by Travel and Leisure Magazine in 2014 as one of the top 10 islands in the world. It takes about 7 hours to reach Vancouver Island from Union, but is well worth the trip. “It has one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems: Rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes create habitats for multitudes of wildlife species. In fact, the region is one of the world’s premier locations for whale watching, birding, as well as salmon and trout fishing.” There are a great many things to do in this unspoiled, sparsely populated region.

If you haven’t made it up north recently, plan a trip and be a moment hunter!

Winter Activities

Love skiing, snowboarding, tubing or just love to enjoy a hot mulled cider from the ski resort lounge? There are a few different options that include fun for all types of winter wonderland lovers.  And as November creeps along and the winter rapidly approaches, I know now is the time people are gearing up to enjoy their favorite winter activities.  And if you’ve never tried any of these rites of Pacific Northwest passage, there’s no time like the present!  And personally, I cannot wait to see the snow capped mountains, Evergreen trees dusted in white and long stretches of untouched land blanketed in awesome whiteness.

Hurricane Ridge– 17 miles south of Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is located in the heart of the Olympic National Park. It is a small, family oriented ski area offering skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Hurricane Ridge offers mile high winter adventures with unparalleled scenic views. Avoid the crowds and congestion of the typical slopes at Hurricane Ridge. Hurricane Ridge is about 3 hour from Union, WA.

Crystal Mountain– Crystal Mountain is the largest ski resort in Washington and is located on the sunny side of Mount Rainier. There are 53 runs for all different experience levels, restaurants and ski shops. There are over 2,600 acres available for skiing and snowboarding with stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades. Crystal Mountain Resort is located about 2.5 hours from Union, WA.

The Summit at Snoqualmie– The Summit at Snoqualmie is locate just 45 minutes from Seattle. The Summit has almost 2,000 skiable acres and 24 chair lifts between Summit West, Summit East, Summit Central and Alpental. There are two terrain parks and a tubing center creating fun for the whole family. There are 4 base lodges, several dining options and equipment rentals.  The Summit is only about 2 hours from Union, WA.

San Juans Islands

Traveling to the San Juan Islands is easy to do from here, but also feels like you are traveling to a completely different world.  And for anyone who has ever wanted to experience Orca sightings with their own two eyes, there is hardly a better place to go!

The San Juan Islands are an archipeligo located between Washington State and Canada in the Salish Sea. There are 4 major islands and at mean tide, over 128 named islands and rocks. The islands average 247 days of sunshine a year and half the annual rainfall of Seattle. The islands are rich with an array of indoor and outdoor activites. From Union, San Juan Island is approximately 5 hours travel including two ferry rides from Port Townsend to Coupville and Anacortes to Friday Harbor. Or drive directly to Anacortes via Seattle, one less ferry, same amount of travel time.
The San Juans are a treasure trove of wild life. The islands have the highest concentration of Bald eagles in the continental US. They are also home to dozens of other predatory birds like Peregrine falcons and Barred owls. And for the sea watchers, the San Juans are home to Harbor seals, River otters, Steller sea lions, Common minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and of course, Orcas. There are 3 resident Orca pods near the San Juans but are often also visited by transient Orcas.

• Orcas Island– (4.5 hours from Union) Orcas Island is named the “Gem of the San Juans”. The island offers a plethora of activities for both cultural and nature, for the social and for those looking for solitude. Deer Harbor is their marine hub with the boating, fishing, kayaking, whale watching seekers. Eastsound is the cultural and social hub of the island filled with restaurants, boutiques, galleries and history. Moran State Park is over 5,000 acres of forests, lakes and waterfalls for those looking for a quiet nature hike. And finally Doe Bay offers water activities, resort and retreat lodging, dining and hot tubs.
• Roche Harbor/San Juan Island– (5 hours from Union) When you arrive in Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor is only a 20 min drive. The village is rich with beauty and history. Take meandering stroll to get the feel of this lovely community or take a self-guided history tour. Visit the sculpture park or hike on the 6.3 miles of trails around the harbor area. And don’t forget to sign up for a kayaking or whale watching tour!
• Friday Harbor/San Juan Island – (5 hours from Union) Friday Harbor is just one square mile and the hub of San Juan Island. The town is filled with art & artists, boutiques, book stores, antique shops, cafes and friendly faces. Interested in the Orcas? Here you will find The Whale Museum, where you can learn all about the Orcas, local pods and other local marine mammals. And no need for an automobile in Friday Harbor, everything is walkable and you can hop on an intersland ferry right here to get to the other islands.