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A Weekend in Woodinville

In January 1997, a fire destroyed the original Herbfarm, in Fall City, Washington, which had become one of the Northwest's most celebrated restaurants. This past April, however, after years of planning and hard work, husband-and-wife restaurant owners Ron Zimmerman and Carrie Van Dyck resumed staging their acclaimed dinners.

Dinners at the Herbfarm are a celebration of Northwest bounty, with regional wines for accompaniement and fresh herbs flavoring unusual dishes such as nettle soup, salmon with wild ginger sauce, risotto with fiddleheads and morels, and Douglas fir sorbet (which is made with a syrup flavored by fir needles). Call it performance art for the palate.

The new Herbfarm restaurant is adjacent to the luxurious Willows Lodge, which opened last September. Set on the banks of the Sammamish River, the lodge captures a Northwest aesthetic with its beautiful woodwork and Asian-inspired gardens--and high-tech amenities such as digital showers and high speed Internet service.

Though dinner at the Herbfarm and a night at the Willows Lodge are more than enough to compose a great getaway, a ftrip to Woodinville can also include an afternoon of wine tasting, a spa treatment, a bit of bicycling on the paved Sammamish River Trail (Willows Lodge bike rentals are $5 per hour for guests), or--for green thumbs-- a visit to some of the area's plant nurseries. You might even consider a morning hot-air balloon flight, though the crack-of-dawn wake-up required for that might start to sound less appealing when you know that dinner is likely to last until almost midnight.

If you're like my wife and me, you'll like opt to sleep late, enjoy a generous breakfast buffet, and then go for a leisurely ride on the bike path. (We did so thinkng we might pedal off a few of the previous night's cslories. Fat chance.)

After lunch at Redhook Ale Brewery's Forecasters Public House, head out for an afternnoon of wine tasting and plant shopping. WSoodinville is home to half a dozen wineries; the two largest, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery, ar a short walk from the lodge.

For a more personal experience, search out the area's two smallest wineries. Facelli is hidden at the back of a business complex. In its tiny tasting room, you're likely to meet winemaker Louis Facelli, who produces some of the best red wines in the state. Nearby is DiSteg=fano Winery, which specializes in traditional Bordeaux-style wines.

If the gardens at the Herbfarm and Willows Lodge have you thinking about doing some gardening yourself, stop by Molbak's Nursery in downtown Woodinville.

In business since 1956, Molbak's boasts greenhouses filled with ornamentals, houseplants, vegetable starts, and garden-related gifts on its 13 acre grounds. Don't miss the tropical conservatory area.

More tropical plants plants, this time exclusively orchids, can be seen (and purchased) at nearby BAker & Chant ry Orchids, the Northwest's only orchid nursery open to the public. Although the greenhouses here are small, they're packed with cattleyas, paphiopedilums, and other unpronounceable varieties of these showy flowers.

Gourmet dining, luxurious accomodations, wineries, orchids: What more could you ask for in a romantic weekend getaway? Perhaps just one more taste of that Douglas fir sorbet?

Woodinville Travel Planner

Woodinville is 20 to 30 minutes northwest of Seattle. Take I-90 east to I-405 north to 533 east.
Area code is 425 unless noted.


Chateau Ste. Michelle. Beautiful grounds, relaible wines (including Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon), and a large tasting room crammed full of wine-related merchandise. 10-5 daily. 14111 N.E. 145th St.; 488-1133.

Columbia Winery. A wide range of wines, and the largest tasting bar in the state. 10-7 daily. 14030 N.E. 145th St.; 488-2776.

DiStefano Winery. Reds rule here, but the winery also makes a fine Sauvignon Blanc. 12-5 Sat-Sun. 12280 Woodinville Dr. N.E.; 487-1648.

Facelli Winery. In addition to the reds that have put him on the map, Facelli produces an excellent Chardonnay. 12-4 Sat-Sun. 16120 Woodinville-Redmond Road N.E. Suite 1; 488-1020.

Other Attractions

Baker & Chantry Orchids
Specimens both common and rare, ranging in price from $8 to $500. 18611 132nd Ave. N.E.; 483-0345

Molbak's Nursery
One of the largest garden centers in the country. 13625 N.E. 175th St. 83-5000.

Over the Rainbow Balloon Flights
Flights offered daily at 6:30 A.M. ($135} and 5:30 P.M. ($165). 861-8611.

Sammamish River Trail
Links to Burke-Gilman Trail for 27 miles of paved pathway. Parking at Jerry Wilmot Gateway Park, 131st Ave. N.E. and N.E. 175th St.; (206) 296-4232.

Dining and Lodging

Barking Frog
A casual alternative to the Herbfarm, with contemporary styling and a menu to match. Serves Pacific-Northwest specialties with French flair. 14582 N.E. 145th St.; 424-2999.

Forecaters Public House
Pub food and craft beers. 14300 N.E. 145th St.; 483-3232.

Nine-course tasting dinners ($149-$169) includes 5 or 6 wines. Reservations for late october through April 2002 are accepted beginning on September 11, and often fill up quickly. Closed Mon-Wed. 14590 N.E. 145th St. (206) 784-2222.

Willows Lodge
This 88-room lodge includes, in addition to its regular accomommodations, two rooms decorated by the Herbfarm's owners in a country French style matching that of the restaurant. From $220. 14580 N.E. 145th St.; (877) 424-3930.