Golf and Wine – a perfect blend

by Andrew Penner

When it comes to the catch phrase, “A match made in heaven,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Cake and ice cream? Beer and nachos? Peanut butter and jelly?

Personally, considering I’ve just visited a number of the best golf destinations in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve got this particular heavenly match on my brain: golf and wine.

Call it what you want – birdies and blush, pars and pinots, fairways and Franc – but a glorious getaway that includes great golf and wonderful wine can be an unforgettable experience.

Chelan Wine Valley

It doesn’t take long for the drama to unfold at Gamble Sands. The short-and-sweet second hole – a daring, downhill, and drivable par-4 that features a sublime lake-and-mountain backdrop – is easily one of the prettiest golf holes in the entire Pacific Northwest.

But this course, a David McLay Kidd design located in Brewster, Washington, isn’t just a one-trick pony. The entire layout, which parades atop a treeless bluff overlooking the Columbia River, serves up one scintillating hole after another. And, without a doubt, it’s the No. 1 reason why a golf-and-wine trip to Chelan Wine Valley is so rewarding.

The most exciting aspect of Gamble Sands? More golf is on the way! Currently, besides the original Sands course, the resort features the 12-hole QuickSands par-3 course as well as beautiful lodging overlooking the lake. However, in the spring of 2025 another full-length Kidd course will be unveiled.

“It will be like the first course, but on steroids,” says Kidd. “It will be at least a couple shots tougher, with even better views and more technical terrain.”

What isn’t difficult in this region – if you can pry yourself away from Gamble Sands for an afternoon or evening – is visiting the charming lakeside town of Chelan (approximately 35 minutes south) and the many wonderful wineries in this gorgeous valley.

The Lake Chelan Wine Valley, the 11th AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Washington State, is home to over 30 wineries. And most of them hug the gem-blue water of Lake Chelan and are relatively new when compared to other well-established areas. So, yes, expect stunning natural beauty, opportunities to do tastings with the owners and winemakers themselves, and plenty of variety in terms of styles.

A few of my favorite wineries here include Tsillan Cellars, Rocky Pond Winery, and Benson Vineyards. However, the quick growth here and the relatively new energy of this region makes for rewarding discoveries around every bend in the road.

In terms of more golf, nearby Desert Canyon Golf Resort and Bear Mountain Ranch are two additional courses worth playing when in the Chelan area.

(Note: The text in this story appeared on the PNGA website, and is used with permission.)