Washington State boasts a myriad of wine regions defined by vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms producing delectable grapes, sumptuous wines, and unforgettable experiences. Here are some of our favorites from Washington’s west-side wine scene.
It was the wish of the country’s forebears that their progeny should go west and seek their fortune, and in that same spirit, I venture to Washington’s west side for some wine tasting in Seattle.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a little wine scene on Washington’s West Side called Woodinville? Even better, maybe you’ve had the opportunity to visit one of the several scores of wineries and/or tasting rooms the town hosts. Wine is why many people go west, and Woodinville is an obligatory stop for any wine pilgrim seeking enological enlightenment in western Washington.
However, it is not the only stop.
*Cue collective gasp*
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Tasting Washington Wines in Seattle
Washington State boasts a myriad of wine regions defined by vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms producing delectable grapes, sumptuous wines, and unforgettable experiences. Washington’s west side is no different, Woodinville being only part of a much larger scene that creates and characterizes that side of the state’s wine country.
So, where else is there to go?
My enological exploration begins on the avenues of Seattle—more specifically, 1st Avenue.
Welcome to 3861 1st Ave S, Suite F.
Rotie Cellars Tasting Room in Seattle is a few miles south of downtown. The winery specializes in crafting Rhône blends in the traditional style using Washington State fruit. There is another tasting room in Milton-Freewater, OR, near the winery’s estate vineyard site. However, the Seattle location has an atmosphere unique to its geography and situation. To sharpen the point, the tasting room is modern, minimalist, and, most importantly, Seattle. The space has adopted a cool air reminiscent of the city, which has, in turn, adopted it.
Spherical lights hang from the ceiling at different lengths above the bar. The bar is defined primarily by sharp edges and solid colors. The space is open, with cases of wine stacked against all four walls.
Rotie produces exceptional Rhône blends, meaning that syrah, grenache, and viognier, among others, feature prominently. I enjoyed the 2022 Southern White, an enological triad of viognier, roussanne, and marsanne. The wine possesses aromas of citrus and tropical flavors, including pineapple.
Locus Wines is located at 307 Occidental Ave S in the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square. The tasting room offers an atmosphere between industry and whimsy.
Planters brimming with bright and full foliage adorn the front entrance. The colors and scents welcome guests into a brick-walled space shaded with chocolate, chartreuse, and mustard. The furniture is modern, svelte, and artfully curved.
Along with the obligatory tasting, Locus offers a full-fledged menu made possible by a full-fledged kitchen. Such featured items include breakfast fare, shareables, and even dessert.
Speaking of dessert, I recommend the double chocolate brownie with a glass of the 2019 Locus Modo Red. This wine is a beautifully balanced blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. The dry quality of the wine stands poised next to the sweet nature of the brownie. This balances out the extreme flavor characteristics both in the glass and on the plate.
House of Smith Wines Jet City
Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood is home to House of Smith Wines Jet City, the largest urban winery in the west.
The inside of the winery at 1136 S Albro Pl is massive. The space covers two floors and includes two tasting rooms, each with a full bar.
Standing tables and long upholstered benches look out through expansive windows. This makes for a tasting experience complete with a view. Boeing Field stands before Mount Rainier in a picturesque scene paired to perfection with your wine of choice.
K Vintners, Substance, and Vino Casasmith are only a few of the several brands House of Smith fathers and offers. Tasters can choose wines from the brands featured, which include many varieties to suit any palate, from the spicy syrahs to the citrus-soaked chardonnays.
If you’re like me and often search for that ideal match for your sizzling steak dinner and your scintillating chocolate dessert, do I have a wine for you. K Vintners’ 2020 King Coal Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend is a wine oozing with red fruit decadence. The wine is comfortable in the company of both savory meats and sugary sweets.
Your next summer BBQ or birthday could benefit from a bottle or two.
White Heron Cellars
Beautifully boutique, with flowers adorning much of the space, White Heron Cellars utilizes simplicity to create a casual atmosphere reminiscent of a friend’s place. Guests can get a clear view of the harbor from the seats lining the window and enjoy the festive sounds of activity from the market just outside the front entrance.
Grazing is highly recommended when you visit the tasting room, so try every delicious morsel the menu offers. Think of the ultimate cheeseboard and throw in a few smoked oysters. Local, artisan, and fresh, White Heron is serious that if there is to be a pairing, the food has to mirror the quality of the wine.
Remember those smoked oysters?
They’re impossible to forget, especially when tasted side-by-side with the 2016 Amigne, a wine crafted from the Swiss white grape varietal of the same name. White Heron’s Mariposa Vineyard is the only vineyard in the USA that grows the grape, so the tasting room is one of the few places to try this rare varietal.
A hallmark of Capitol Hill (801A E. Thomas St), Ballard (1528 NW Market St), and Queene Anne (1629 Queen Anne Ave N #102), Aluel Cellars is prepared to host you no matter where you choose to take a seat.
Each venue offers communal seating and private tables from which guests can view the trendy boardwalk beyond. An open patio, accented tastefully by a sprinkling of small trees and rows of clean-cut hedges, sits just before the front entrance. Between the indoor and outdoor seating areas, each tasting room is spacious enough to accommodate large groups looking to party. The Capitol Hill location includes a loft explicitly reserved for such festive occasions.
The tasting room is nothing but taste.
If you fall head over heels for any of the wines you taste, seize the opportunity. The winery excels in quality, producing a limited number of only the very best.
The 2022 Dry Rosé, a blend of Bordeaux varietals, is a deep shade of blush as delightful to the eye as its strawberry and cream flavors are to the palate.
The Tasting Room
The name says it all.
The Tasting Room at 1924 Post Alley is an enological haven for visitors to the Emerald City. The Tasting Room offers wine from winemaker-owned wineries across Washington State. The featured wineries rotate throughout the year, and The Tasting Room showcases the best wine each winery offers.
The rustic space is defined wall-to-wall by wine, which lines every shelf and occupies every free space, tactfully presenting Washington wine ‘at a glance’. Light bites, such as cheese and charcuterie, are offered alongside your selected flight or glass to further accentuate the different characteristics of each available wine.
When deciding which wine you might want to include in your flight or your glass, the fantastically named 2016 Sagemoor Stars in a Row, a blend of primarily cabernet sauvignon with a touch of merlot, is an option you might want to consider. Waves of cherry sprinkled with notes of chocolate characterize this wine, making for a solid standalone glass and an ideal pairing for the salty charcuterie mentioned earlier.
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‘X’ Marks the Spot
When venturing into unfamiliar territory, it is often strategic to go where others have gone before, which is a noted ‘x’ on the map. In other words, you go where there is bound to be treasure, and Washington’s west side is filled with places to go, things to see, and, of course, wine to drink.
The usual suspects, we will call them, such as Woodinville, have their well-deserved praises sung throughout the land, and trust me, you should heed that call. However, there is another call out there.
The call to adventure.
I dare you to seek your enological fortune in some of the places I’ve scouted for you and then go further. Explore Vancouver, take a walk around Tacoma, and check out Bellingham! It isn’t called ‘buried treasure’ for nothing. Sometimes, you have to go out and do a little digging.