by Marcie Young | Photo © Warm Springs Inn and Winery
When I think of amazing dining experiences, candlelit dinners paired with fine wines come to mind. Breakfast, with its homey flavors, colors and textures, rarely conjures up thoughts of creativity and gourmet dining. Yet breakfast puts on an entirely new face with a stay at Warm Springs Inn and Winery in Wenatchee, Washington.
As you drive down Love Lane—yes, Love Lane—and approach Warm Springs, you realize the attention and care that owners Ludger and Julie Szmania give the grounds and inn. The stately brick estate, tucked on a bank on the Wenatchee River, is surrounded by fruit trees and flowering gardens. Stepping in to the entrance hall, the warmth of the hosts and elegance of main rooms draws you in. Outside, the gentle rippling of the Wenatchee River lulls you into a sense of relaxation.
Julie and Ludger offer guests the opportunity to taste the inn’s choice Brender Canyon Farm estate wine from their own vineyard in nearby Cashmere. As you visit with the Szmanias, it becomes immediately apparent that the couple has found their calling. They are imperial hosts with a wealth of local information.
In the morning, Chef Ludger Szmania will personally prepare your breakfast. Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, a classically trained chef with executive chef experience all over the world, including The Four Seasons Hotel properties and Hilton International, Ludger elevates breakfast to the level of a fine dining experience. For 24 years, Ludger owned and was the executive chef at Szmania’s, a popular German-influenced fine-dining restaurant in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood.
According to Julie, Chef Ludger’s favorite adjective is “fun” when he talks about his food. He views food as an ingredient adventure.
“Simple ingredients, blended together perfectly with the right amount of flavor and textures, generally served family style, is where he really has fun,” says Julie. “Don’t get me wrong—he has classic European training, has lived all over the world, speaks four languages fluently and is the least pretentious person I know when it comes to great food. It’s his passion, and if he can include his own herb garden, a nearby friend’s orchard goodies, or fish caught with his sons, then he’s a happy guy. Great meals leave lasting memories, and I think that’s what we have going on with his cuisine at the inn.”
Ludger crafts the Warm Springs breakfast from local, in-season and often hand-picked ingredients from the Szamania’s own garden. The couple painstakingly seeks out the best local sources for items such as small-farm goat cheese, cherrywood smoked ham, fresh blueberries and hand caught salmon.
To make reservations, visit warmspringsinn.com.
Ludger and Julie Szmania can make suggestions for anything that may be of interest while visiting the burgeoning town of Wenatchee. With the area’s multitude of restaurants, wineries, breweries and outdoor activities, there will be plenty to discuss over wine with your hosts at Warm Springs Inn. Ask about the indoor Pybus Market (pybuspublicmarket.org), the perfect place to rent bicycles and fill a picnic basket with items from the impressive collection of shops, offering fresh fruit and vegetables, specialty meats and cheeses, and wines and brews. If the surrounding 10-mile Apple Capital Loop Trail does not call you to ride, run or walk, enjoy the live music or one of the many restaurants within the Market. Also, make sure you visit Ohme Gardens (ohmegardens.com), located on a hill overlooking the city. The gardens, created in 1929, showcase the native flora of alpine meadows and evergreen groves.
To learn more about Wenatchee attractions, visit wenatchee.org.