When people think ‘Washington Wines’ they usually think Yakima and Woodinville. As more and more people gain an avid interest in wine they seek out hidden treasures, which is why I decided to explore a different side to the Washington wine scene – Urban Seattle. I stumbled upon a variety of wineries with one notion at their core: being near a city doesn’t mean you make bad wine! These are referred to as Urban wineries, and I was pleasantly surprised to partake on this journey and experience a few of these wineries. I even found a few new grapes along the way I hadn’t yet tried. There are dozens of wineries in Seattle – I chose a few to spotlight. I had so much fun tasting these delicious wines I couldn’t just write about five, so you get an additional winery thrown in because, well, it’s wine and I couldn’t pick one to leave out. Bonus with these locations – parking is relatively painless and easy, something you may not expect from an urban city wine.
Focusing on 100% Washington Wines, Elsom winery is a true delight. Winemaker, Jody (who launched Elsom in ‘06) makes a killer Syrah I cannot get enough of, so definitely be on the lookout for it. In an incredible new location referred to as the ‘Adventure Hub’, visitors can access a variety of travel excursions right on the doorstep, winding down to a nice bottle in the picturesque seating area while exploring culinary delights from the food trucks. If reds are your thing then Elsom is definitely for you. You will have a wide selection to choose from.
Tucked away off the main street, Eight Bells in located in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Local is a major theme in this artistically driven tasting paradise. With a wide selection of wines at the bar, accompanied by knowledge of exactly how they are produced (the production equipment is literally right behind you), the tasting experience is taken up a notch to a whole new level of understanding. Sourcing their grapes from a variety of vineyards across both Washington and Oregon, visitors can tantalize their taste buds with a collection of delightful reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot, and Pinot Noir. Culturally savvy? With a vast array of art events throughout the year, this is the perfect spot for those wanting to unwind, take in some local culture, and explore some truly delicious wines – be sure to join their mailing list so you won’t miss out.
Located in the old Rainier Brewery building, the Bartholomew Winery hosts a wide range of wines from Red, White, Rose, to a dessert wine. I discovered the grape Carmemere while trying the reds at this winery. This grape is used in their Reciprocity Cab/Carmemere blend, as well as their Jaxon Red Blend (named after his son), which is a great blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Malbec, and Carmemere. Their dessert wine is 100% Souzao and fortified with brandy wine grown from Snipes Mountain. This dessert wine drinks more like a liquor, with strong fruit flavors of a sweet red wine and an invigorating smell of brandy. The tasting room has a very cozy feel to it, accommodating to groups of all sizes, while showcasing the original architecture. No matter what type of wine you fancy there is something for everyone and maybe even something you didn’t know you would enjoy.
Laurelhurst Cellars has one of the most extensive tasting line-ups I have seen in a while. I must have tried over 7 wines ranging from white, red, and dessert. When I said that I wasn’t really interested in trying the white wine, the wine members along with the winemaker were insistent that I try it. It was crisp and refreshing and definitely worth trying. Laurelhurst Cellars is tucked away in the warehouse district of South Seattle, reminding me of the warehouse district wineries found in Woodinville. Once you walk in you are greeted with a lineup of wines to try along with great chairs and tables to sit so you can enjoy all the wines they have to offer. While I found a few good red wines from Laurelhurst I was really smitten over the Petite Syrah. Grab a few friends and swing by here for a great afternoon of wine tasting. Bonus – Laurelhurst believes in giving back and they have a few ways you can help, like recycling your used corks – just bring them in. If you purchase their 2012 Late Harvest wine proceeds, go to support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Good wine with a cause – what’s not to love?
Plan to end your day of wine tasting at Almquist Family Vintners as they set themselves apart with their nighttime tasting room. Located at the southern tip of Fremont they open at 5pm, they have a restaurant on the lower level and their tasting room is up top. While the tasting room upstairs is under construction, the tastings are being held in the restaurant on the lower level. Take my word for it, from the sneak peek I got the tasting room will be worth the wait. This is a red wine winery with something for everyone: a crisp Nebbiolo, a Merlot and on the heavier side, a Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you swing in for a tasting I recommend grabbing a cheese plate and ask for extra pecans, you won’t regret it. The pecans paired with the Cab Sauv is genius and will go down as one of my favorite pairings I have had at a winery. I will definitely have to go back to drink a bottle along with the pecans – they were that good. If you have a nut allergy I recommend doing a dessert instead. The Chocolate Mousse went really well with the Syrah. If you want to sit at a table in the greenhouse rather than the bar make sure to book a reservation, however, no matter where you sit the wine will pour the same and the atmosphere is great.
Tucked away in a new building in SODO, Scarborough Wines is a funky blend of wine and art. I am not normally a fan of white wine or rose but if I was going to a summer party I would definitely grab a bottle of their “Blush” Rose Grenache as it is a crisp refreshing summer day wine. The red blend “The Escape” is a split blend of Grenache and Cinsault. This red blend drinks crisp on your pallet but has the deep notes that you would see in a Cab Sauv or a Syrah. One of the most interesting wines I had at Scarborough was their “The Works II” – it is a Rhone style blend. The magic blend in this bottle is Mouvdre, Grenache, Cinsault, and Counoise. They have come a long way since their garage making wine days but haven’t forgotten where they came from. Their tasting room has a great chill vibe with rotating food trucks that frequent the area. The bonus with this winery is there are a few other wineries in the same complex, so you can make an afternoon of it and try a few different tastings without leaving the complex.