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Leavenworth, WA: Not Just Beer and Brats Anymore

delicious crispy homemade granola with berries, Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, WA, is perfect for a romantic getaway.

For years, Leavenworth has been well-known for its Bavarian-themed storefronts, locally-brewed beers, and sausages, brats, and kielbasa. This charming faux Bavarian town is also famous for its lively Oktoberfest and its annual twinkly Christmas Tree Lighting. However, Leavenworth has much more to offer. It’s become a renowned destination for wine enthusiasts and has plenty of first-class hiking and snow-related activities. And, if a Bavarian-themed hotel is not your style, there are plenty of other accommodation choices.

Just across the Wenatchee River on Leavenworth’s East Road, River Haus in The Pines Bed and Breakfast awaits. The name still carries a German flair, but the house itself doesn’t make you feel like Hansel or Gretel entering a gingerbread cottage. The beautiful woodwork and tastefully rustic, antique style furniture invites, as do the hostess, Cindy, and her welcoming dog, Cooper.

Our spacious room faced the river so we could sit on our private deck and take in the views, or open the window and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of gentle rapids. Guest rooms offer large windows with views, comfortable king sized beds with sheets that feel like butter, a gas fireplace, television, stereo, DVD player, and, best of all, a double soaking tub with a rain shower head and heated bathroom tile floors. If it weren’t for the wine tasting and skiing I wanted to experience, I may not have left the bathroom all weekend!

French Toast and Apple Sausage, Leavenworth, Washington

Orange-soaked French Toast with apple sausage can fuel a whole day of skiing.

The first on our agenda was searching for a special bottle of wine. Cindy recommended Ryan Patrick Vineyards, so we headed out for a late afternoon walk into town (approximately 1 mile), poked around some of the shops and tasting rooms, and wrapped it up at Ryan Patrick’s Tasting Room on Front Street. We bought a wonderful bottle of 2009 Barbera that we enjoyed immensely. Now I wish we’d bought another to bring home.

After the first restful night’s sleep I’d had in a long time, Cindy presented us with a palate-pleasing breakfast that was hearty enough for our day of skiing. The first course consisted of a delicious fruit smoothie. Next came orange-soaked baked French toast with syrup, fresh fruit, and homemade pecan and spice coated sausages (a house specialty).

Skiing and Soaking

At Steven’s Pass, we spent a magnificent day of skiing. Afterward, that large soaking tub back at the River Haus was calling our name.

Once our tired muscles were thoroughly soothed, we forged out for dinner. Not in the mood for the usual Bavarian sausage and cabbage meal, we opted for Visconti’s. This Italian restaurant received the “Award of Excellence for 2012” from Wine Spectator Magazine, and our meals did not disappoint. I devoured the grilled salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, and a pile of perfectly cooked fresh veggies, and my boyfriend enjoyed a delicious rack of lamb. We shared the crème caramel for dessert–though I could easily have eaten this creamy delight on my own.

Onto to Great Wine

Our decadent wred-wineeekend wasn’t quite over yet. Sunday’s breakfast included homemade granola over vanilla yogurt, an egg bake topped with crumbled nuts and bacon, apple sausage and apple strudel toast. While we weren’t skiing again, this delicious meal geared us up for a day of wine tasting.

On our hostess’ recommendation, we headed to 37 Cellars, named for the owners’ two 1937 D-18 Martin Guitars. The winery is located about three miles outside of Leavenworth atop a hillside with sweeping views of the Cascades and town. Our host, Chuck, conducted more than just a tour and tasting. As we sipped his award winning reds, this former race car driver and passionate musician entertained us with stories and music, a tour of his recording studio, and a look at his guitar collection and classic 1940’s Packard. My boyfriend, a music and car buff himself, was completely enamored.

Eventually, others visitors arrived (37 Cellars only does tastings by appointment) so it was time for us to exit. Of course, we couldn’t leave empty handed. We bought a bottle of the 2010 Merlot from Pepper Bridge and Bacchus Vineyards and two bottles of their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills West and Bacchus Vineyards, awarded the Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

We left Leavenworth thoroughly relaxed, knowing we’d recommend this romantic get-away any time of year to folks who’d rather pass on the Bavarian brew and brats. – by Loreley J. Smith, RFT Contributor

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Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at

4 thoughts on “Leavenworth, WA: Not Just Beer and Brats Anymore

  1. Denise Gangnes

    Well written! One typo: ” palate-pleasing breakfast that was hardy enough for our day of skiing” should be “hearty enough”

  2. Wendi

    Wow, I love to ski, and drink wine, but Leavenworth isn’t a place I would have thought of for this type of an experience. Thanks for the recommendation and the beautiful pictures. That french toast is calling my name.

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