Please No Whining About the Weather, or the Wine

Winemakers dinner at Sleeping Lady

It always rains in Seattle and never rains in Eastern Washington!  Is that true?  On a recently performed two month field test it was ascertained that there is certainly anecdotal evidence to support this claim.  Every time the quasi-researchers left Seattle it was cloudy or raining.  Upon arriving at Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass, it was pouring andwhen reaching the destination of Leavenworth – it was always sunny!

This however, was not a very scientific approach so the next step is to check the actual data from the National Climatic Data Center. The data statistically proved the field test.  For Seattle during 5 months of the year there is at least a 50% chance of rain and for Leavenworth the chance of rain never exceeds 50% in any month. Case closed.

So – you can’t whine about the weather in Leavenworth and you would certainly not whine about the Winemakers dinner held at the Sleeping Lady Resort.  Terra Blanca Winery provided the wine poured for this event.  Winemaker Keith Pilgrim grew up near Napa and spent many weekends tagging along with his parents as they toured the wineries in the Valley.  Apparently Keith caught the “bug”.  After working at a small winery, he went on to study Geolgy and then to the prestigious Enology and Viniculture program at UC Davis.

This background serves Keith and his Terra Blanca Winery very well. Plus, the winery is located in one of the premier locations for wine, the Red Mountain AVA.  This AVA produces some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay in the United States.  (Sorry, Napa and Sonoma.)

Great wine deserves great food and the soulful Chef, Ken MacDonald does not disappoint you. Ken is a world class chef and currently manages several restaurants that are housed on the Sleeping Lady property.

The dinner started with a fresh Greek salad with local greens, olives and feta, followed by main course of grilled wild halibut (fresh from Queen Charlotte Islands British Columbia).  Served alongside was creamed Yukon gold potatoes prepared with Mt. Townsend Seastack cheese.   Finally the desert was a refreshingly light lemon posset.

Much of the food Ken uses is sourced from small farms in Western Washington.  Ken, who grew up in Scotland, makes frequent forays to the farms to select just the right ingredients.  And in his spare time, he travels over the mountains to spin some Northern Soul at the Emerald City Soul Club.  (Northern soul music is loosely defined as American Motown hits recorded by small local bands in northern England and is still played on the original 7 inch singles – aka 45s!)

The Sleeping Lady Resort offers plenty of beautiful grounds for an after dinner walk.  The resort is nestled in the forest, with views of the foothills peeking out between the trees.  The cozy cabins are located a short distance from the restaurant, along well lighted trails.

In the morning guests are greeted by another sunny day and a hearty breakfast. Even after the (very filling) winemaker’s dinner the previous night, you can’t help but be tempted by smoked salmon (Nova Scotia Lox), custom made omelets of local, “just-from-the-farm” eggs, “house-made” bread and a lovely variety of fresh fruit.

Great food deserves great exercise and the options are numerous.  The resort offers a fitness room (open 24/7), outdoor swimming pool, plus nearby hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, white-water rafting and cross-country skiing during the winter (there are 7.8 km groomed trails right outside your door).  In the spring, the wildflowers dot the hillside, making a hike seem like the best choice.

Deciding on which trail is the first decision.  This requires first looking at the following choices:  a hike in the foothills, or a much more ambitious trek to the Alpine Lake Wilderness, or the Enchantments.  All three choices offer many trailheads close by.  One great hike is the Icicle Ridge trail.  The trailhead is about ten minutes from Sleeping Lady, just outside the town of Leavenworth.  The trail offers a twelve mile round trip, but even a shorter “in-and-out” is graced with panoramic views of the lovely town of Leavenworth and the surrounding snowcapped mountains – and wildflowers.

View on Leavenworth and the mountain while hiking on Icicle Ridge Trail, photo Richard Perkins

For families, or those looking for a much shorter excursion, the Icicle Creek Nature Trail is a kid friendly (and educational) hike located at the Leavenworth national Fish Hatchery.

Sleeping Lady Resort offers a great selection for an after-hike lunch.   O’Grady’s Pantry  is located next to The Sleeping Lady, well – actually it is pretty much in the parking lot. The deli is a great setting with sandwiches, soups, pastas, coffee, and quiche.  While there are the expected tables and chairs, you can also enjoy a delicious quiche and homemade soup in the very comfortable living room area.  It is a lovely setting for some great food and post lunch reading.

The Sleeping Lady cabins are “TV–free” which definitely lends itself to the relaxing, “away-from-the-world” ambiance.  However, for those who can’t go too long without a sports fix, there is the Grotto Lounge – just a short walk down the trail.  In some ways it looks like a typical sports bar with a large screen TV over the bar.  However, once you look around you realize that the interior space of the Grotto looks a lot like…..a grotto!  The walls are constructed of faux-granite, with petro glyphs and carvings of wildlife.  The theme is carried to the outside seating area, complete with a waterfall and fire circle.

This is definitely a resort for all seasons with rafting in the spring, hiking in the summer, beautiful foliage in the fall, skiing from your door in the winter, and always a restful haven from a stress-filled world.

 

Information to places

Sleeping Lady

509.548.6344, ext. 309

7375 Icicle Road
Leavenworth, WA 98826 O’Grady’s Pantry 509.548.6344, ext. 312 The Grotto
509.548.6344, ext. 385
Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery

12790 Fish Hatchery Road
Leavenworth, WA 98826
(509) 548-7641

Michael Fagin

Michael Fagin is a freelance travel writer who has traveled over the last ten years across Canada and visited all the major Canadian wine regions. Mr. Fagin is currently touring the Pacific Northwest enjoying the wine country, dining, and hiking the region. While he is not writing Mr. Fagin is a meteorologist for West Coast Weather, LLC forecasting weather for the West Coast of the US as well as on an international basis.

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