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Friday, September 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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It’s time for wine outdoors: August is Washington Wine Month, and the theme this year is Drink for Washington

By Michael Allen For The Spokesman-Review

In the Inland Northwest, late summer and early fall is the perfect season for enjoying wine outside at a tasting room or in your backyard. In fact, August is Washington Wine Month, and the theme this year is Drink for Washington.

Wineries have been hit hard by COVID-19 but are still open for business. Here are some things to know before you go:

Call ahead: Spokane has several tasting rooms open. Many feature outdoor seating, but rules associated with the reopening are subject to modification as new data is released or issues arise. Take a few minutes to call the tasting room to verify hours and availability.

5 and 6 rule: Your group can have no more than five people at your table, and all tables or seating must be 6 feet apart.

Flights: Rather than the traditional individual pours of a typical tour, many tasting rooms are providing a flight in small carafes and you pour your own.

Mask etiquette: Right now, you must wear a face mask to enter the tasting room. Once you are seated, you can remove it. If you get up to move around the facility, you will need to put your mask back on. Expect all tasting room employees to be wearing a mask.

Voluntary customer log: Tasting rooms are not required to take down your information, but you can sign a customer log. Let your server know if you would like to participate in their log.

Understanding these simple rules will help make your outdoor wine tour more enjoyable.

“I think educating customers about the COVID-19 restrictions we are in right now would be helpful,” said Margo Shelman of Craftsman Cellars. “Having them understand that we must serve people of different households outside and only if they are of the same household can they be inside.”

Spokane Outdoor Tasting Room Tours

Downtown Tour

Downtown Spokane has a very walkable tour with some solid urban outdoor seating, views and wines.

Barrister Winery: One of the coolest spots to enjoy outdoor wine season. The Urban Garden Courtyard features a barrel wall on one side and a railroad viaduct on the other. Barrister is open from 12-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and 12-5 p.m. Saturdays.

Terra Blanca: Located in the historic Spokane Chronicle building, the outdoor tasting room resides in The Spokesman-Review Plaza complete with a water feature. It’s a fine place to enjoy a glass of wine with views of the urban core. Open from 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 1-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Bridge Press Cellars: The patio is a hidden gem and perfect for outdoor wine tasting. Bridge Press also features live entertainment when possible. Open 2:30-9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays.

Craftsman: Craftsman is a great location in Kendall Yards to enjoy a glass of wine and people watch. Currently featuring five varietals in a flight for $10. Open 3-8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

Maryhill: Also located in Kendall Yards, this tasting room features one of the best views of the downtown skyline and Spokane River gorge from the outside deck. Open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.

Valley Tour

The Spokane Valley Tour features some of our oldest wineries, unique venues and wines.

Winescape: Located a block east of South Glenrose, Winescape recently expanded its outdoor seating with pergolas and sunshades. The farm setting is a wonderful place to enjoy a glass of wine. Reservations are suggested. Open 3-7 p.m. Fridays and 2-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Liberty Lake: A few years back when Mark and Sarah Lathrop purchased the winery, they moved the tasting room into a new facility that includes a relaxing outdoor patio. They are currently offering a flight of five wines for $10. Open 12-8 p.m. Fridays and 12-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Latah Creek: Located along I-90, Latah Creek is one of our most historic and award-winning wineries, and it has a unique outdoor seating area with a Tuscan feel. Latah is currently offering glass pours and bottle purchases for on-site consumption. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Arbor Crest: Perhaps our most well-known outdoor venue with is vast vistas overlooking Spokane Valley and historic architecture, Arbor Crest recently updated its menu in a collaboration with Chad White. Arbor Crest is open 12-5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and 12-8 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Reservations can be made online at arborcrest.com.

Backyard Outdoor Tasting

In addition to touring some amazing outdoor tasting rooms, you might want to pick up a bottle of wine from a local winery and enjoy it at home with a few friends. Here are some recommendations for a great evening of backyard wine tasting:

Seating: With Spokane in Phase 2, you can have up to five people at your house who are not household members, but social distancing is recommended. The small number of guests is perfect for backyard wine tasting. Too many folks can turn it into work, so enjoy the opportunity to relax and entertain with a few friends and choice bottles from your favorite local wineries.

Wines: Think about what types of wine you want to serve and pick them up a few days in advance to make sure you have time to get them to the right temperature when serving. Start with the lightest wines.

Lighting: With the days getting shorter but still warm in the evening, something as simple as stringing lights over your table can add a lot to the atmosphere of your small gathering.

Food: Are you going to serve a meal, bites or light snacks? If you really want to make a paired dinner for a small group, go for it, but most everyone will still have a great time with bites or light snacks, and you will have more time to enjoy the wine and conversation with your guests.

The next couple of months will provide many opportunities to spend the evenings outside with a great glass of wine and a few friends. Take an evening (or several) to support our wineries this month and Drink for Washington – prost!

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