For a small, intimate wine-tasting experience, look no further than La Chanterelle Winery. Owners and longtime red wine lovers Lotte Freeman and Donatas Pocus opened the winery out of their home’s basement in 2012.
“My partner always comes up with some crazy business ideas, but this one was actually doable,” Freeman says. By having the winery at home, the pair were able to cut costs while creating a cozy and one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
It’s a true family business, with Freeman and Pocus carefully sourcing, hand-picking, transporting, and de-stemming the grapes all by hand. The artwork on La Chanterelle bottles is designed by Pocus’ daughter Greta Poceviciute.
“Our wine selection is special because we are really tiny,” Freeman says. “We are small, sweet, and simple, but we make really good wine.”
You can purchase La Chanterelle wines online or by joining their wine club for a $10 fee. Wines are released twice annually, with wine club members getting an additional 25% off all selections. You can also find them at Seifert & Jones, Elizabeth Station, Old World Deli, and Village Wine Shop.
- 2015 Wahluke Slope Syrah ($35)
- 2018 Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
- 2017 Conchie Cabernet Sauvignon ($34)
Bellingham, 360.540.0280, lachanterellewine.com
Tradition meets innovation at Dynasty Cellars in Bellingham. You can find a variety of wines from bordeauxs and syrahs to zinfandels and tempranillos. Generations of winemaking combined with new age techniques results in high-quality wines, sourced from the same location every year.
Sample, sip, and savor Dynasty Cellars’ wines by stopping in the tasting room on Friday or Saturday. With both indoor and outdoor tasting areas open year-round, you can enjoy a glass regardless of the weather for only $10 per person (the fee is waived with a bottle purchase).
The winery also offers numerous benefits through its wine club. Membership includes free wine tastings, club-only releases, bottle and case discounts, random deep discounts, and an invite to a twice annual pig roast and barrel tasting. Membership is free with no annual dues.
The website currently features ten selections available for purchase, with free delivery available in Bellingham on orders $100 or more. You can also find bottles at local restaurants and grocery stores.
- 2016 DCC Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
- 2017 DCCF Cabernet Franc ($32)
- 2016 DCM Merlot ($32)
2169 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, 360.758.2958, dynastycellars.com
GLM Wine Company
For those looking to enjoy a full-bodied, fruity glass of red in a truly one-of-a-kind environment, look no further than GLM Wine Company. Owners Tom Davis and Tracey DeGraff opened GLM Winery in 2002, converting an old garage in Blaine into an award-winning winery.
The winery takes its initials from the prehistoric Glacial Lake Missoula. In addition, their signature wine “Deluge” references this ice age lake and the floods that transformed the landscape of eastern Washington. It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and malbec conserved for two years in new French oak barriques.
The Davises also pioneered enrobed wine, a new category named after the French term “la robe” (meaning the color of red wine). It’s made by combining white grape juice with unfermented red grape skins, “enrobing” the juice and creating a red wine through fermentation.
GLM uses both modern refrigerated stainless steel tanks and traditional barrels, delving deeply into the science behind red wine making — even down to the use of plastic corks to protect the flavors. They set themselves apart even further by labeling the “color index” on red wines, denoting how full-bodied each bottle is. For wine drinkers who prioritize innovation and creativity, GLM wines are a must-try.
- Deluge 2015 Reserve ($35)
- Rock Flour 2018 ($25)
- Kolk Blush 2015 ($17)
1678 Boblett St., Blaine, 360.332.2097, glmwine.com
Vartanyan Estate Winery
Photo by Tony Mueantonthian
A visit to Vartanyan Estate Winery’s tasting room is a must for those who appreciate well-crafted wine and incredible views of Mt. Baker. This scenic Bellingham winery is woman-owned and operated, boasting a selection of red, white, and rosé wines fit for any occasion.
Their flagship wine, Trilogia, is a blend of three grapes — syrah, cabernet, and merlot — aged in French, Russian, and American barrels. Keeping with this motif of thirds, owner Margarita Vartanyan defines her core tenets of winemaking as “family tradition, knowledge, and passion.”
Given Vartanyan’s dedication, it’s no surprise that her work is highly awarded. Wines from Vartanyan Estate took home two double golds, seven golds, and five silver medals during the 2021 Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival.
Members of the free quarterly wine club receive a selection of two bottles, including new vintages, available via shipments or pick-up. They can also bring two guests along to enjoy a complimentary wine tasting. Vartanyan Estate Winery’s tasting room is open to the public Friday–Sunday, making it the perfect stop during a relaxing autumn weekend.
- Trilogia 2017 ($27.95)
- Cabernet Franc 2018 ($28.95)
- Pinot Gris 2018 ($17.95)
1628 Huntley Rd., Bellingham, 360.756.6770, vewinery.com
Samson Estates Winery
Photo Courtesy of Samson Estates
For winemaker and horticulturalist Rob Dhaliwal, Samson Estates Winery is the extension of a family farming tradition spanning generations. The tasting room is located in a converted dairy barn on one of his father’s raspberry fields. Even the name pays homage to Dhaliwal’s father, Samson.
Each bottle from Samson Estates reflects the winery’s emphasis on family and locally-grown ingredients. All of the fruits used are sourced from Samson Farms, the Dhaliwals’ farming operation. Given this dedication to every step of the winemaking process, it’s no wonder that Samson Estates’ bottles are highly awarded.
Offerings include more traditional grape varietals, but the off-dry berry and dessert fruit wines make Samson Estates stand out. Their award-winning raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry wines are delectable on their own or mixed with champagne for a light and refreshing treat.
Those looking for a memorable winery experience can visit the public tasting room, open Wednesday–Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers wine samples, exclusive handmade truffles from Chocolate Necessities, and stunning scenery complete with views of the Cascades. Samson Estates wines are also available for purchase online.
- Delilah Blueberry Table Wine ($13)
- Framboise Raspberry Dessert Wine ($17)
- 2018 Yakima Valley Riesling ($15)
1861 Van Dyk Rd., Everson, 360.966.7787, samsonestates.com