Sweet music
NW wineries offer great concert venues
With the heavy snows of this past winter now in the rear-view mirror, thoughts turn to the gorgeous springtime scenery and idyllic settings at many  1Washington state wineries. It's time to plan a trip to enjoy one of this summer's outdoor winery concerts.

As wineries have multiplied throughout the state, so have the concert venues that many wineries build on their winery grounds. Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville got it all started back in 1984 when they began hosting major concerts by some of the country's top musical acts.

Today, the musical acts run the gamut from local and regional favorites to the national chart-toppers. But no matter what level of talent, a winery concert has to be one of the best outdoor experiences in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Here are a few options:

Olympic Cellars

The city of Port Angeles enjoys magnificent views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, proximity to spectacular mountain destinations such as Hurricane Ridge and a winery that averages a concert every couple weeks during the summer season. Most of the concerts held at Olympic Cellars feature regional and local bands offering a variety of musical styles.

Visitors bring a lawn chair to this family venue. There is food for purchase at the event so you can really make a night out of it. As with many winery concerts Olympic Cellars puts these musical events on outdoors, rain or shine, so be sure and dress for the weather.

The price is certain right at Olympic Cellars -- $15 at the door is all it costs with the proceeds going to benefit local non-profit organizations.

For more information, please visit www.olympiccellars.com or phone 360-452-0160.

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery has become one of the Northwest's top concert venues. It has a 4,000-seat amphitheater located in a dramatic setting down on the Columbia River Gorge. Each year they bring in top-name musical performers.

That amphitheater is fully integrated into the natural slope of a huge lawn where you can look out to Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, not to mention nearby vineyards. It's quite a setting, and well worth researching a place to stay in the area, which is not far from Goldendale Washington. There is also live music on the terrace offered every weekend afternoon Memorial Day through September. These events are free as well as family- and dog-friendly.

Wine enthusiasts come from around the world to visit Maryhill, which is rated as one of Washington's top five wineries, producing 50 wines. The winery has won more than 3,000 awards for various types of wine it produces.

For more information, please visit www.maryhillwinery.com or phone 877-435-9849.

Chateau Ste. Michelle

The granddaddy of all the winery concert venues is Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, just a short drive from Seattle. This was the very first winery in Washington state. It's also the world's leading producer of Riesling wines, shipping 2 million cases a year.

It was back in 1984 that Chateau Ste. Michelle held its first outdoor concert, and the winery has been a top Northwest concert venue ever since. They get the top-name acts and concerts can sell out soon after they are announced. There are usually a dozen or so performances each summer.

The grounds at Chateau Ste-Michelle are spectacular. Visitors almost feel like they're walking through an arboretum and, of course, the chateau-style buildings add to the feeling you are in Europe. The concerts are performed outside and are held rain or shine -- so be sure and dress for the weather.

For more information, please visit www.ste-michelle.com or phone 425-488-1133.

Lake Chelan wineries

 1One of the best places to enjoy wineries and spectacular scenery is Lake Chelan -- which also happens to have concerts on a regular basis during the summer months. If you've never been there, the combination of the lake and the mountains will remind you of pictures you have seen of lakes in the European Alps.

Lake Chelan is in North Central Washington and one of the best wineries for concerts is Benson Vineyards, on the north shore of the lake. Benson Vineyards has gone to a lot of effort to build a very large outdoor patio and a special stage for the entertainment with Lake Chelan as the backdrop.

Top regional bands play at Benson, most of them playing classic rock. The winery is very popular stop on a local limousine tour of local wineries. Also check out Rio Vista Winery, a few miles north of Chelan on the banks of the Columbia River. This also is a great setting for outdoor music with lots of open lawn and great views of the river.

For more information on Benson Vineyards, please visit www.bensonvineyards.com or phone 509-687-0313.

Swiftwater Cellars

The Central Washington town of Cle Elum is located in a spectacular part of Washington state with amazing views of the Cascade mountain range and forests for as far as the eye can see.

Swiftwater Cellars sort of specializes in really good tribute bands offered up in a mountainous outdoor setting that is perfect for listening to music. They're right next door to Suncadia Resort, one of the Northwest's top resorts and one of region's newest.

Swiftwater Cellars was built by the Watts family who have been in the agricultural business locally, managing 20,000 acres of farmland and 500 employees. Along with their winery, they built an outdoor stage where they put on their Summer Concert Series.

It's a 2,500-seat amphitheater and if you keep an eye on their calendar, they do bring in national acts from time to time. Whatever the act performing, the Swiftwater Cellars amphitheater is a great place to enjoy a concert, and conveniently located right off Interstate 90.

For more information, please visit www.swiftwatercellars.com or phone 509-674-6555.
PHOTOS: Maryhill Winery and spectacular Columbia Gorge view; Benson Vineyards at Lake Chelan
PHOTO CREDITS: Maryhill photo courtesy Maryhill Winery
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