Walla Walla Washington, the old/new Napa of the future??

We remembered the old Napa Valley of 30+ years ago and were disappointed with its commercial and expensive development. Somehow it became Napa Vegas.  So our quest for a simpler site led to flying to Seattle, a rental car and first stop in Yakima, Washington.

th7ES2D9C3Howard Johnsons

This is our balcony view from an  original 1950’s Howard Johnsons.Large room and balcony, restaurant, bar , free parking  and breakfast …less than a hundred dollars. We asked for a restaurant reference. The concierge said “drive down 1st street to the Old Railroad Station and take your pick.”



We found an old turn-of-the-century building “The  Carousel”, a French restaurant. Authentic 1900’s inside with marvelous French touches…especially in the food and wine pairing. I had roasted rabbit and Mike ordered a remoulade . Superb.






We finished the wine on the outside patio where all the greenery was edible. The next morning on to Walla Walla, Washington with tasting stops at  wineries along the highway. Our first stop was L’Ecole 41.

L'Ecole 41




This had been an elementary school in the 1900 hundreds and beautifully crafted inside and out. Family owned beginning in 1983, it has grown enormously in popularity.

The first vines in this Blue Mountain area were planted in the 1850’s and grew copiously. Then came Prohibition……


Woodward Canyon Winery





Woodward Canyon Winery  was our second stop and conveniently located next door to L’Ecole 41. Situated in a 1920 farmhouse, they began the winery in 1982.



Reininger Winery


The area vineyards were very lush for mid-September.

Our finial tasting before Walla Walla was the Reininger winery developed in  1997.

The original building was expanded on the right side to accommodate the  winery process: you can see barrels ready-to-roll-out on the far right.



Then we entered bustling Walla Walla and found our reserved Red Lion Inn( circa 1970’s) ideally located town center. It was an original Red Lion with the beautifully designed bedroom and cozy balcony overlooking a small, green courtyard and pool.

Red Lion  Inn(Including parking and breakfast, under 100.00 dollars.)

Dinner at nearby French restaurant. The chief apparently liked “dim” ambiance but we could not read the menu. Our waitress smiled and nodded. (We were the only table with 3 candles.)

Old Town #2


The next day Mike went wine tasting while I took pictures of downtown.  Most stores were constructed between 1900 and 1930’s and were charming!

Old Town #1




I discovered a Macy’s  store in this small town of 31,000 people. Here it was in a early 1900 century theater! They had converted a 1930’s Theatre (as is) adjusting the inside to the shopper’s needs.  And of course I had to check out the inside to see how they reconstructed the departments. (Took me 2 hours and 3 packages.)


Old Theatre #2


We were told that there were no “wine tasting” rooms in Walla Walla downtown ten years ago. Now there are over 40. Only one had a sign saying “not open, ran out of wine.” This is that tiny yellow shop below. Sad.


Our last night we walked to the Marcus Whitman Hotel (circa 1928) for dinner in their elegant dining room. We sat in a wood paneled  booth : an intimate 1930’s décor.

Booth in dining room

Lovely way to end this quest for a new/old Napa Valley. And certainly Walla Walla Washington is on its way!.



About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels.
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