Wine country luxury lodging–four words that induce relaxation as much as a warming red by a fire on a chilly fall day. Actually, make that a Washington state red blend on a late November weekend. Because relaxed is exactly what I wrote in my tasting book as I sat overlooking the central slate-decked fire pit at Willows Lodge’s Barking Frog restaurant in late November, sipping on EFESTĒ’s intense and structured 2010 Final Final red blend, sopping up the last of my addictive Penn Cove mussels and Spanish chorizo sauce with my grilled baguette. Of course, the first glass of Two Vintners 2012 Grenache Blanc I had prior to my entrée might have helped me on my way. Or my deep tissue Thai-influenced massage and starlit soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi tub earlier in the evening—also highly probable influencers on my tranquil state.

Turns out that Woodinville has long been a place for relaxing. Willows Lodge was originally the hunting haunt of C.D. Stimson, one of the leading early families of Seattle. He was one of a group of the bustling social community that had country homes here in the valley, where hunting, entertaining (Harry Houdini was one famous guest of Stimson’s) and, yes, relaxing would regularly take place. While guests at the present Willows Lodge are more often hunting a great bottle of wine than a duck, it still remains very much a comfortable country place, one devoted to great dining, a warm fire, relaxation and inspiration.

The present day Willows Lodge is a Northwest style lodge is located in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, approximately 30 minutes outside of Seattle. The lodge features 84 luxury guestrooms, a full-service spa plus techie equipped meeting space. The onsite restaurant, Barking Frog, reflects the bounty of the Puget Sound and Pacific Northwest through Executive Chef Bobby Moore’s American regional cuisine. The cocktail list was smart and tight and loaded with local spirits, and the wine list was a lengthy, loved tome highlighting northwest wines with a heavy and hearty nod to Washington state, naturally. If you’re in the area, you might even catch a glimpse of the Barking Frog Mobile Kitchen, the CUV (Catering Utility Vehicle) designed for offsite catering for the discerning and lucky client.

Willows Lodge is unquestionably the most comfortable place to stay after a day of wine touring, and the perfect place to lay your head after a gastronomic dining adventure at world famous restaurant The Herbfarm, located on the same property and mere steps away.  West Coasters and art aficionados will appreciate the numerous Bill Reid, Susan Point and Robert Davidson pieces throughout the lodge, a veritable art and architecture gallery of Native American design amidst massive Douglas Fir timbers. The sustainably mapped, peaceful and lush five acres of property border the Sammimish River and contain flower, herb and vegetable gardens to supplement both The Herbfarm and Barking Frog.

If the close proximity to numerous well known Washington wineries (Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia among them) and Woodinville’s numerous tasting rooms (just down the road) don’t entice, your inner hedonist will certainly be swayed by the 300 count Italian linens, stone fireplaces, private patios or balconies, romantic soaking tubs à deux, Molton Brown toiletries and the digitally programmed walk-in shower. Wine country luxury lodging in Woodinville = relaxation guaranteed.

Willows Lodge || 14580 NE 145th St, Woodinville, WA || willowslodge.com

 

|| Holiday Boot Camp ||

Willows Lodge’s annual Holiday Boot Camp starts up again today, and continues for the next two Wednesdays. Held in Fireside, this series of cooking, baking and cocktailing classes was devised to help novices navigate the challenges of holiday entertaining. Classes are complimentary and include sample bites or sips and printed recipes to take home. Boot Camp starts at 5:30pm, seating is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis.  This year, Willows Lodge has invited select neighborhood purveyors, including Woodinville Lavender and SaltWorks, to participate in a gifting boutique also featuring Willows Lodge-branded products.

Wednesday, Dec. 4: Holiday Party Appetizers

Executive Chef of Barking Frog Bobby Moore will share easy recipes for the following holiday party appetizers:  Cauliflower tempura with white cheddar fondue; Lamb rillette with minted agro dolce, crab; and Shrimp fritter with Mirin gastrique.

Wednesday, Dec. 11: Holiday Desserts

Pastry Chef Matt Kelley will share the recipes and tips for the following holiday sweets: Spiced hot chocolate with candy cane macaroons; and Eggnog cake with rum-whipped ganache.

Wednesday, Dec. 18: Holiday Cocktails

Wine Director Matt Davis will whip up a few of the Lodge’s favorite holiday cocktails and winter warming drinks.

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