On Nov. 30 I got the opportunity to experience a familiarization (FAM) departure of the Wacky Holiday Lights & Wine Tasting Tour, a joint venture between Evergreen Escapes and Ride the Ducks of Seattle. The tour starts with a fun and silly “Duck” ride through downtown to view holiday lights. Then, board a Mercedes van for comfortable ride to the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle for an elegant wine dinner at Fall Line Winery. The tour departs at 7 p.m. from Westlake Center (in front of P.F. Chang’s) and ends around 10 p.m. There is only one more scheduled departure for 2011, Dec. 30. The cost is $114 per person. Call Evergreen Escapes for availability at (866) 203-7603, or locally at (206) 650-5795.
(This is part 2 of a two-part article about the Wacky Holiday Lights & Wine Tasting Tour, a joint venture between Evergreen Escapes and Ride the Ducks of Seattle. For part 1, please see Seattle’s Wacky Holiday Lights & Wine Tasting Tour, part 1)
Fall Lakes Winery Dinner and Wine Tasting
Following the Ride the Ducks Holiday Lights Tour we boarded a Mercedes van for a 10-minute drive to Fall Line Winery in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. After hanging up our coats we received the evening’s tasting menu and listened to a brief talk by winemaker Tim Sorenson. Tim talked about the history of the winery, the types of wines that he produces (all reds), and how he got into winemaking after spending most of his career as an economics professor. He showed great hospitality and took the time to chat with each guest individually, in addition to pouring wine and making sure everyone was taken care of throughout the evening.
Then it was time to eat: three courses paired with six wines and then dessert. The full menu can be found here. The food, prepared by Maven Meals of Kirland, was delicious. The Carnival Squash Lasagna was fantastic, and the Brandied Cranberry Short Ribs were unbelievable. I enjoyed the wines quite a lot as well, enough to even buy a bottle for a friend as a Christmas gift. The prices are not cheap (most are $28 per bottle), but the wines are of great quality. The pours with the meal were generous, and guests were even invited to have an additional glass of their favorite at the end of the meal.
After a relaxing and fun time socializing with fellow guests we were returned back to Westlake Center a little after 10 p.m. All guests on this familiarization tour received a complimentary photo packet of a photo taken earlier in the evening, which normally costs $15. The packet included multiple photo sizes and even a photo stand. I had chosen to get my picture taken with “Captain Yukon” in front of the “Duck”.
Worth the Cost?
As stated earlier, I did not pay for the tour. As part of this review I need to question whether an average person would get their money’s worth for a $114 price tag. In the end it’s hard to say and it’s largely personal preference. I know that I had a fantastic time, but I’m not sure if I felt it was worth $114. The Ride the Ducks portion was great – not sure what I would do differently.
Personally, I would suggest that the wine tour portion could be improved on by playing up the holiday aspect a bit more. Perhaps participants could receive a Christmas present or a stocking filled with goodies. Instead of just wine, perhaps guests could also be treated to an after-dinner coffee cocktail, an espresso, or an alcoholic eggnog or cider. The winery itself was a bit drafty and felt somewhat like a warehouse, which in a way it was.
I feel that a warmer and cozier atmosphere in the winery would have made the experience better. That being said, this a good quality tour. I just feel that perhaps the price should be a little less (maybe $100) or that there should just be a few more goodies thrown in for value. For example, even a free Tall drip coffee or cocoa from the Westlake Center Starbucks would be a nice touch. Another option would be to include the photo packet that currently costs $15.
2011 is the first official year of the Wacky Holiday Lights & Wine Tasting Tour. With perhaps a few minor improvements, the tour will hopefully be entertaining tourists and locals alike for years to come.