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What’s the secret to Karma Vineyard’s wine and champagne? The seeds and the setting, of course.

Let's Go Places: This vineyard has an underground wine cave (and we're in heaven!)

What’s the secret to Karma Vineyard’s wine and champagne? The seeds and the setting, of course.

Owners Julie and Brett Pittsinger bought the Lake Chelan property about 15 years ago, and drawing on Julie’s love for traditional, French-style champagne, established Karma as the first (and only) Methode Champenoise house in the area.

Because they make sparkling wine, Karma is usually the first winery in the state to begin harvest (seeds for the sparkly are low-sugar and high acidity). Once the seeds are picked to perfection, they’re taken to the 3,000 square-foot underground, temperature-controlled facility (also known as the “wine cave”), which is perfect for winemaking and is a popular spot for weddings.

While Chelan is about 170 miles east of Seattle, a car with maximum fuel efficiency is needed for the drive. The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited gets 44 miles per gallon combined, and barely made a dent in our gas tank. Here are the fast facts:

Sleek design

The 2019 Toyota Avalon – designed and assembled in the United States – embodies consumers’ overarching desire for high-caliber, design-centric, technologically-savvy modes of attainable, premium transportation. It is available in seven models: XLE, XSE, Touring, Limited, Hybrid XLE, Hybrid XSE, and Hybrid Limited.

For its fifth generation, it received an all-encompassing makeover to represent both authenticity and exhilaration. Its low, wide stance and flowing roofline give it a sleek silhouette, while strong character lines add definition to its shape – creating an undeniable presence wherever drivers go. Additionally, its new 3.5-liter V6 engine for gas models and hybrid system deliver more power with less fuel consumption.

Expansive comfort

Beyond style, the all-new Avalon has been designed to be smarter and more rewarding. Leveraging the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), engineers delivered a higher level of both handling and rider comfort for drivers and passengers alike. Specifically, the wheel-mounted paddle shifters provide responsiveness by allowing drivers to shift gears manually and the expansive cabin space gives passengers ample shoulder, knee, and head room.

Fuel efficient

For the Hybrid Limited used in this segment, drivers can maximize fuel efficiency in ECO mode, or run entirely on electric motors to help reduce noise and emissions under certain conditions. From the vehicle’s compact battery and lightweight power control unit to its auto-glide control for efficient coasting, the Avalon Hybrid has up to an impressive estimated 44 mpg combined. Note that gas models can reach up to an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined.

Smart technology

Sporting both comfort and smart technology, the vehicle is filled with an array of seamless multimedia features like Bluetooth connectivity, Amazon Alexa connectivity, Entune 3.0 and Apple CarPlay (a Toyota first).

What’s more, smartwatch connectivity allows drivers to stay in touch with their Avalons via Toyota Remote Connect, with access to locate the vehicle, lock or unlock the doors, and even start the engine remotely.

The Avalon also includes a 10-inch color Head-Up Display (HUD) that’s projected onto the windshield for a distraction-free view of vehicle speed, turn-by-turn directions and more, in addition to a 7-inch Multi-Information Display (MID) in the instrument cluster. These offerings, plus a Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging station and available 14-speaker JBL Audio system, take day-to-day drives to the next level.

Safety first

Similar to Toyota’s other sedans, safety is a top priority for the premium 2019 Avalon. Its standard Toyota Safety SenseTM P suite includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

Other safety features include Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST0). Lastly available additions are the Avalon’s Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS), and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA).

The 2019 Avalon gas models range from $35,500 for the XLE to $41,800 for the Limited. The Hybrid Limited model in this segment starts at $42,800 and the as equipped price is $44,870.

For more information about the vehicle, visit one of the local Western Washington Toyota Dealers near you today. You can also visit to read more about the 2019 Avalon Hybrid Limited and to see interior and exterior pictures.