Fairhaven is one of Bellingham’s most popular destinations. Its quaint shops, fabulous restaurants and beautiful water views make it a fun place to spend the day. And if you’re into libations, Fairhaven serves up plenty to write home about—from world-class beers at The Archer Ale House to classic and creative cocktails at Daphne’s and The Black Cat.
Since March is Washington Wine Month, we had wine on our minds this time around. In Fairhaven, you can conduct your own mini, walkable wine-tasting tour that won’t take up your whole day, but is guaranteed to make it much more pleasant. Add a stop at an olive oil-tasting bar for a unique experience that will also provide a little fuel to keep you going!
Purple Smile Wines
Update 10/2014: Purple Smile Wines is currently closed, although the website and Facebook page do not offer any information about the closing or any reopening plans. Stay tuned…
With its concrete counters, reclaimed wood and natural accents, Purple Smile is a beautiful shop. But wine is the star here; PS has an outstanding selection of whites, reds, rosés and bubblies from around the globe—from affordable everyday drinkers to special occasion wines. And if you need help, ask Wick (also known as owner Jeff Wicklund) or his staff. They’re some of the most knowledgeable “cork dorks” around.
At Purple Smile, there are always four wines on tap: two reds and two whites, for $8/glass or $30/liter (to go, I presume).
Wine tastings are held every Saturday and Sunday, with featured wines based on a theme. Tastings are $10 for five or six wines. Another $10 will get you a taste of ultra-premium wines (some selling for $28/glass!). Life is short, so why not splurge?
We tasted two whites and four reds, all from Walla Walla, Washington, in honor of Washington Wine Month:
- L’Ecole No. 41 2011 Estate Luminesce – a white Bordeaux blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Foundry Vineyards 2010 White on White – another white blend, this one mostly Viognier and Chardonnay.
- Bodega Turner 2002 Dos Amigos Malbec – a lovely wine from a winery that is sadly no longer in business.
- Mannina Cellars 2010 Cali – a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese.
- Cougar Crest Estate Winery 2008 Cabernet Franc – Cab Franc is one of my favorites, and this one was very nice.
- Woodward Canyon 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – a gorgeous, full-bodied Cab with a bit of Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.
Stop by and ask Wick for his recommendations. And while you’re there, listen to some tunes on vinyl and enjoy a taste or a glass. In nice weather, an outside seat is always a good option!
Purple Smile Wines, 1143 11th St., Bellingham, WA 360-756-0422
Purple Smile on Facebook
Store hours: Monday–Wednesday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thursday–Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Wine tasting: Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Drizzle Olive Oil & Vinegar Tasting Room
Next, we strolled down the street to Drizzle. Open the door and you’ll see row upon row of gleaming vats, filled with an assortment of 65 flavored-infused, aged, and herbed extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world.
Molly and Ariel gave us a quick tour, and then we helped ourselves to some tastes. We learned that like wine, olive oil is either a single varietal or a blend. The single-varietal olive oil selection changes according to availability, and can come from many different countries of origin. They were arranged from mild to peppery, and all were delicious.
We then tasted some infused oils, with a base of Tunisian olive, and flavors ranging from garlic, basil and chipotle to blood orange, lemon, and wild mushroom and sage. Along with the olive oils, Drizzle also has a few specialty oils: white truffle, black truffle, and roasted sesame, walnut and almond.
Then it was on to the dark and white balsamic vinegars. We tried a bunch, including dark chocolate, fig, lavender and espresso. I was imagining the fig balsamic drizzled (of course) on goat cheese—with a little lemon olive oil. Yum!
Out of the hundreds of possible oil and vinegar combinations in Drizzle, Molly said the most popular is Tuscan herbed olive oil and traditional aged balsamic. After a taste of each, I could understand why!
Drizzle offers three bottle sizes, ready to be filled with your favorite selections and carried home. They also have specialties like Pappardelle dried pastas, pickled products from Britt’s Pickles on Whidbey Island, custom spice blends by Bob Currie, local organic honey and salts from around the world. Salt, spice and cooking classes will soon be offered.
We picked up a bottle of the Tuscan herbed olive oil, a lemon-basil linguine and a killer recipe that combined them both. Our dinner that night was delizioso!
Drizzle Olive Oil & Vinegar Tasting Room, 1208 11th St., Bellingham, WA 360-392-8838
Drizzle on Facebook
Store Hours: Monday–Saturday 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Old Fairhaven Wines
Update: Old Fairhaven Wines has closed.
The final stop on our walkable wine tour in Fairhaven was Old Fairhaven Wines, around the corner from Drizzle and down Finnegan’s Alley. Open since 2004, Old Fairhaven Wines is now owned by Chris, April and Sean Baetz. OFW carries a large selection of wines, including many from Whatcom County wineries. They also offer dozens of craft beers from near and far.
Our host, Kirk, set us up with our wine tasting, again focused on Washington wines. And bonus! It included cheese from Quel Fromage, also in Fairhaven. The fee is only $4 for four wines expertly paired with lovely cheeses—hands down, the least-expensive fun you’ll have all day. OFW also offers beer tastings on Saturdays (soon to be offered on Sundays, too).
Here’s what we tasted:
- Charles Smith Vino 2011 Pinot Grigio – another Walla Walla winery, 100% Pinot Grigio from Columbia Valley. It was paired with a whiskey cheddar.
- Jones of Washington 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – from the Ancient lakes AVA of Columbia Valley. Jones was named “2012 Washington Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest. This was paired with a Swiss caved-aged gruyere.
- Ridge Crest 2009 Merlot – from 100% Columbia Valley grapes. A silver award winner in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which was paired with Effin cheddar.
- Floating Rock 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – sourced from the Rattlesnake Hills AVA in Yakima County. It’s a bargain at around $12—so we had to take some home. By this time in our tasting, another couple joined us and I confess I was too busy chatting to make a note of the cheese we tried. But I do know it was delicious!
Old Fairhaven Wines also offers wine- and beer-themed accessories and gifts, such as glasses, charms and t-shirts.
Old Fairhaven Wines, 1106 Harris Ave., Suite #104, Bellingham, WA 360-738-WINE (9463)
Old Fairhaven Wines on Facebook
Store Hours: Monday–Thursday 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.