This article was originally published in May 2011
Spring fever, wanderlust, whatever you call the travel bug, our fair state is a great place to get bit.
For inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of producers who offer tours. Fan out in all directions or just one to see the source of some of the great items you’ll find at your local PCC.
Cruise toward the sunrise to visit fertile glacial valleys and dairyland galore. Feeling ambitious? Stretch your journey to Othello, Wash., home to an organic, all-Jersey dairy.
Full Circle — If you shop our produce department or the PCC Deli, you’ve enjoyed Full Circle’s impossibly fresh kale and salad mix. Venture just east of Redmond to the wide-open spaces of Carnation, Wash., to see how it’s grown! Part of Full Circle’s 400 acres sits on organic farmland preserved for future generations by PCC Farmland Trust. Husband and wife Andrew Stout and Wendy Munroe and their team cultivate more than 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including baby turnips, culinary herbs, rosy red and white oblong French breakfast radishes and a rainbow of potato varieties. Can’t make the trip? Enjoy Full Circle’s greens in your next stir-fry or salad. Group farm tours June through September, email email@example.com; 31904 N.E. 8th St., Carnation, WA; 425-333-4677; fullcircle.com.
Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream — What journey would be complete without ice cream? The little town of Maltby is home to this sustainable, energy-efficient ice creamery owned by Barry and Shahnaz Bettinger. Choose from dozens of handcrafted flavors in their café and wander the attached garden, where they harvest lavender and other natural ingredients for their frozen treats. Can’t make the trip? Savor a pint of decadent Snoqualmie Gourmet ice cream or frozen custard from our freezer. Try their Danish Vanilla Bean in a float with Lavender Dry Soda. Their Lemon custard makes our bakery’s angel food cake extra lively. Café open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 21106-A 86th Ave. S.E., Maltby, WA; 360-668-8535; snoqualmiegourmet.com.
Pure Éire Dairy — Nestled in the heart of the Columbia Basin, Pure Éire Dairy is the realization of Richard and Jill Smith’s dream to create a product they’d be proud to stand behind. The Smiths raise an all-Jersey, organic, 100-percent grass-fed herd that produces luscious, nutritious milk. Through careful pasture management, the sweet-eyed herd munches grass even in the winter months. “Our lives revolve around our kids and cows, so that dictates our schedule, but we really try to accommodate any request we can,” said Jill Smith. Can’t make the trip? You’ll find their exceptional organic milk and fresh cream in our dairy case, ready to enjoy at breakfast, with a big slice of chocolate cake, or frothed into decadent whipped cream or butter. Tours by appointment. Othello, WA; 509-301-9512; pureeiredairy.com.
Journey southbound toward the Evergreen State capital for shining examples in fair trade production, organic brewing and family-run farming.
Fish Brewing Company — In the heart of Washington state’s capital, Fish Brewing Co. has been crafting award-winning beers since 1993. The brewery also has helped lead the way in organic brewing, with four of their classic ales now certified organic. A visit to their brewpub gives you an opportunity to sip these tasty concoctions and enjoy a menu that features local, organic meat and produce. In addition to the Fish Tale ales, you’ll find German-style beers from Leavenworth Biers, brewed at the Fish Brewery. This results in a whopping 14 taps to choose from at the pub. Can’t make the trip? You’ll find six-packs of Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale, Organic India Pale Ale and Organic Blonde Ale at PCC stores. We also carry six-packs of Leavenworth’s Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen, Whistling Pig Hefeweizen and Eightmile Alt. Brewpub open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturday, 9 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 515 Jefferson St. S.E., Olympia, WA; 360-943-3650; fishbrewing.com.
Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese — Along the banks of the Chehalis River, Stephen Hueffed and Amy Turnbull raise dairy sheep and handcraft farmstead cheese in their state-of-the-art creamery housed in a historic barn. With a love for blue, this family operation produces a decadent line of blue cheeses such as Two-Faced Blue, made from a blend of sheep milk and cow milk for a buttery texture and mellow flavor; Little Boy Blue, a firm yet creamy cow milk blue with a salty overtone and strong nutty notes; and Fresh with Ewe, a seasonal, fresh, soft, sheep milk cheese with a hint of blue. Visit the store on this picturesque family farm for a chance to try all of their outstanding cheeses — farm tours also are offered by appointment. Can’t make the trip? Pick up Little Boy Blue, Two-Faced Blue, Pluvius, Big Boy Blue, Fresh with Ewe or Willapa White at PCC stores (selection varies by store). Open weekends, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., additional days and hours vary by season; 4680 Washington 6, Doty, WA; 360-291-EWES; willapahillscheese.com.
Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care — You don’t have to travel to Africa to explore the wonders of shea butter. A short drive to Lacey will give you the opportunity to tour Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care. Alaffia sources natural shea butter from a women’s cooperative in Togo, Africa — founder and owner Olowo-n’djo Tchala’s native country — to craft nourishing, fair trade body care products. A visit is an inspiring way to learn about fair trade as well as Alaffia’s many community projects and a chance to check out Alaffia’s fantastic products. The tours are private, so call in advance to set one up. Can’t make the trip? Find Alaffia lotions, creams and more at your local PCC. Open by appointment only. 8925 Orion Drive N.E., Suite A, Lacey, WA; 360-866-0080 x205; alaffia.com.
Hop a ferry toward two producers whose commitment to quality is evident in every bite.
Mt. Townsend Creamery — Make a visit to picturesque Port Townsend even more satisfying with a stop at Mt. Townsend’s tasting room and creamery, which is housed in a retrofitted 50-year-old warehouse. Watch cheesemakers coax local Olympic Peninsula milk into European-style cheese with a Northwest twist. Can’t make the trip? The PCC Deli carries many of Mt. Townsend’s most luscious cheeses, from mushroomy and nutty, soft-ripened Seastack to easy-going Camp Fire — a smoked Jack tailor-made for snacking. Creamery open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Monday; 338 Sherman St., Port Townsend, WA; 360-379-0895; mttownsendcreamery.com.
Nash’s Organic Produce — Nash Huber and his team work more than 400 acres of rich, organic soil in the Dungeness River Delta on the north Olympic Peninsula, growing delightfully sweet carrots that kids and adults adore. The Delta Farm, where Nash grows much of his organic produce, was the first farm preserved for future generations by PCC Farmland Trust. Can’t make the trip? Enjoy Nash’s wonderfully crisp and sweet carrots at your local PCC, as well as his spicy parsnips in the fall. Farm store open year-round Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Monday; Group farm tours available by appointment; 1865 E. Anderson Rd., Sequim, WA; 360-683-4642 (store) 360-681-7458 (farm); nashsorganicproduce.com.
Windswept vistas abound en route to the glorious San Juan Islands and this gem of a winery.
Lopez Island Vineyards — Hop on a ferry and slake your thirst for adventure en route to this small family winery in the gorgeous San Juan archipelago. There, winemaker Brent Charnley and his team produce beautiful, acclaimed vintages, with a tasting room that overlooks gardens and six acres of organic vineyards. Two additional tasting rooms are set in Lopez Village and in Eastsound on nearby Orcas Island. Can’t make the trip? Sip their beautiful Madeleine Angevine, available at PCC. And keep an eye out for these treats: Siegerrebe, Apple-Pear Wine, Wave Crest White and Dry Riesling. Tasting room hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays in July and August. Noon to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in May, June and September. Lopez Village tasting room: 265 Lopez Rd., Lopez Island, WA. Eastsound tasting room: 414 North Beach Rd., Orcas Island, WA. Winery and vineyards (call ahead for group tours and special events): 724 Fisherman Bay Rd., Lopez Island, WA; 360-468-3644; lopezislandvineyards.com.
Venture through the lush fields of the Skagit Valley and beyond for artisan cheese and small-batch brews.
Appel Farms Cheese — A little less than two hours north of Seattle is Appel Farms Cheese — a family-owned operation since 1966 that began when founder Jack Appel (who came from Holland) started making Gouda for friends and family. While cheese making initially was a hobby, in 1988 it became a full-time business when Appel was asked to make Quark — a fresh cheese popular in Eastern Europe that somewhat resembles cottage cheese. These days Appel Farms also offers Cheddar, Feta, Paneer, Fresh Cheddar Curd (squeaky cheese) and Fromage Blanc. Stop by their farm store to enjoy any of these unique, lovely cheeses. Can’t make the trip? You’ll find Appel Farms’ Mild Gouda, Smoked Gouda and Paneer in PCC stores. Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 6605 Northwest Rd., Ferndale, WA; 360-384-4996; appel-farms.com.
Skagit River Brewery — Just off I-5 in downtown Mt. Vernon sits Skagit River Brewery and its brewpub. The cozy, wood interior and menu filled with burgers, sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas make it a welcome stop. But the beer is the real reason to visit. Grab a pint of their Highwater Porter, Dutch Girl Lager, Skagit River “Steelie” Brown or Sculler’s IPA brewed on-site. Kid-friendly, Skagit also offers house-made
root beer. Can’t make the trip? You’ll find Skagit’s Sculler IPA — a smooth-tasting beer full of Northwest hops with a rich, malty back bone — in 22-ounce bottles in the beer case at PCC stores. Brewpub open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 404 S. 3rd Street, Mount Vernon, WA; 360-336-2884; skagitbrew.com.
Samish Bay Cheese — Nestled in the Skagit Valley between Samish Bay and the Chuckanut mountains, Samish Bay Cheese produces luscious farmstead cheese with milk from their on-site certified organic dairy. Visit the farm to see the animals in pasture and to sample their line of aged cheeses as well as their delicate fresh cheeses. Among the options? The soft yet sharp and flavorful Port Edison is made from raw milk and aged for at least nine months while the semi-hard Black Mambazo is rubbed with a chipotle mixture during the aging process, which gives the smooth, buttery flavor an extra kick. Can’t make the trip? Find Samish Bay Gouda, Herb Gouda, Chili/Chive/Onion Gouda, Black Mambazo, Queso Fresco, Ladysmith and Port Edison in PCC stores (selection varies by season and by store). Open weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Noon to 4 p.m.; 15115 Bow Hill Road, Bow, WA; 360-766-6707; samishbaycheese.com.