Great Northwest Destination Winery: Swiftwater Cellars

By on December 22, 2014
Swiftwater Cellars is in Cle Elum, Washington.

Swiftwater Cellars is a true destination winery in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. (Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Cellars)

Editor’s note: This is the 15th in an occasional series on destination wineries of the Pacific Northwest.

CLE ELUM, Wash. – It is difficult to imagine a destination winery being so far away from wine country. Yet Swiftwater Cellars has managed the feat with remarkable success.

Swiftwater Cellars, owned by Don and Lori Watts, began making wine in 2007 and opened its stunning winery in this Cascade town in 2010. That it is at Suncadia Resort is no coincidence and adds to its charm and ability to cater to visitors.

The Watts family is best known for its farming operations in Eastern Washington. When they sold the farm, that gave them the ability to launch Swiftwater.

Swiftwater Cellars is in the heart of the Cascades, and while that is not near any large population centers, it does make it a perfect destination for both sides of Washington. Swiftwater and Suncadia are about 90 minutes from downtown Seattle (depending on traffic getting to the east side of Lake Washington) and not much farther from the Tri-Cities in Washington wine country.

For the first few years, the wines were crafted by famed Oregon winemaker Tony Rynders. That task was taken over in 2010 by Linda Trotta, who emigrated from California’s Sonoma County, where she was considered one of California’s finest and most innovative winemakers.

Trotta immediately elevated Swiftwater with her winemaking, producing some of the state’s finest wines. Her No. 9 Riesling has earned top marks from critics and consumers alike.

Trotta left Swiftwater Cellars this fall, and Andrew Wisniewski took over those duties. Wisniewski spent several years at Stoller Family Estate in Oregon’s Dundee Hills before arriving at Swiftwater.

Swiftwater Cellars a true destination

Andrew Wisniewski is head winemaker at Swiftwater Cellars.

Andrew Wisniewski worked in Oregon’s Dundee Hills before coming to Washington two years ago. He is the new head winemaker at Swiftwater Cellars. (Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Cellars)

Swiftwater Cellars was built on the site of the Roslyn No. 9 Mine, which opened in 1930. In 1963, it was the last coal mine to close in the region. The entrance to the No. 9 Mine is near the winery. A hill near the tasting room, called Tipple Hill is a pile of coal slag that has since become populated by native grasses and shrubs.

In addition to its winemaking facility, Swiftwater Cellars also is home to the Hoist House Restaurant, an upscale establishment with stunning views of the Cascade foothills. It offers both indoor and outdoor seating, depending on the season.

The grounds are perfect for weddings and other celebrations, and three championship golf courses at Suncadia — two of them public — are available for visitors.

Amenities at Swiftwater Cellars

Swiftwater Cellars is in Cle Elum, Washington.

Swiftwater Cellars is a lodge-like destination winery in Cle Elum, Wash. (Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Cellars)

  • Gift shop
  • Restaurant
  • Picnic area
  • Concert venue
  • Weddings
  • Hiking
  • Gardens
  • Golf course
  • Special area for wine club members
  • Live music
  • Conference facilities
  • Food for sale, such as cheeses
  • Kid-friendly
  • Pet-friendly
  • Handicap-accessible
  • Full-service bar
  • Glad Springs Spa
  • Sledding and tubing hill
  • Wildlife and bird viewing

Nearby restaurants recommended by Swiftwater Cellars

Nearby overnight accommodations recommended by Swiftwater Cellars

Nearby coffee places recommended by Swiftwater Cellars

Non-wine activities recommended by Swiftwater Cellars

Swiftwater Cellars contact info and hours

Swiftwater Cellars
301 Rope Rider Drive
Cle Elum, WA 98922

509-674-6555

www.swiftwatercellars.com

Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to close

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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