Plan a Perfect Fall Road Trip to the Lake Chelan Wine Valley

There’s no need to book a trip cross-country for spectacular fall foliage and immaculate autumn vibes. You get all of this and more in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley!

Not only does the valley burst with beautiful hues of amber and gold, the wine harvest season is in full swing during the autumn months, making it an especially exciting time to book a visit. And a journey from afar promises stunning views of snow-dusted peaks and meandering rivers no matter which mountain pass your cross.

Here’s what to expect on your fall road trip to the Lake Chelan Wine Valley.

Buckle Up for Beauty

Fall Trees in Lake Chelan

Wherever you travel from, you’re guaranteed beautiful autumn vistas as you wind your way into the Lake Chelan Wine Valley.

From mid-September to late October, the alpine larch trees blaze a deep gold in the higher elevations, putting on an awe-inspiring show. Closer to the road, catch the maples with their signature red, orange, and gold leaves.

And when you travel from the state’s east side, the wheat fields are particularly striking this time of year, especially against the backdrop of a dark and moody October sky.

A road trip to Lake Chelan wouldn’t be complete without a stop at one of the many farm stands along the way. Featuring apples, pumpkins, hot cider, and donuts, you’ll find plenty of roadside attractions to satisfy your mid-journey appetite.

Wine Harvest Activities

Depending on the growing season, the wine harvest extends anywhere from late August to mid-November. This just about guarantees that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch one or more of the exciting harvest activities during your fall visit to the Lake Chelan Wine Valley.

Grape Crushing

Fall grape crush

During wine harvest, the area wineries are hard at work picking and crushing grapes from sun up to sun down. When you book a wine tasting during this time, you can expect a front-row seat to the action.

After the grapes are picked, they’re run through a de-stemmer and crusher, turning the carefully grown and tended fruit into juice that will eventually become wine.

Some wineries even make an event of crushing the old-fashioned way — with your feet! Check the calendar of events before your trip to see which wineries feature special harvest-themed activities and events. 

Barrel Tasting

Barrel Tasting

Barrel tasting is an exciting way to sample younger wine directly from the source. During November, several area wineries host fall barrel-tasting events with their winemakers so you can taste new and upcoming wines and learn the story of their creation. 

During a barrel tasting, the winemakers use a “wine thief” to extract samples of their unbottled wines directly from the barrel. Because the flavors have yet to be fully developed, you get an interactive experience of tasting the wine in the middle of the aging process. 

The winemaker can typically give some guesses as to what they’ll expect from the final product, and most of the fun is in venturing your own theories about where the wine’s flavors and aromas are headed.

Come prepared with boots and a warm jacket — most barrel tastings occur in or just outside of the barrel room, typically at a cool 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fall Releases

Fall wine

You may think of summer as the prime season for new wine releases. As the gateway to the holiday season, autumn is just as prolific in its offerings!

Fall wine releases are common across the Lake Chelan Wine Valley and often go hand in hand with barrel-tasting events. Check the calendar of events ahead of your visit for new wine release activities. You might just find the perfect Pinot Noir to pair with your Thanksgiving turkey!

Beauty Awaits You in Lake Chelan this Fall

From start to finish, a fall road trip to the Lake Chelan Wine Valley promises beauty and excitement. From the changing leaves to the flurry of wine harvest activity to the many seasonal events, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience.

Book an autumn visit to the Lake Chelan Wine Valley and discover the natural beauty and harvest events that only happen during this brief window of the year.

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