Woodinville – a wine tasting haven

Who would ever believe that a small city with over 100 tasting rooms could exist without a single vineyard nearby? We are talking about Woodinville, WA, a city with a population of 11,000, situated 30 minutes from downtown Seattle. It all started when Columbia Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle set up shop in Woodinville many years ago. Slowly but surely, tasting rooms began to spring up here and there. Today Woodinville is a mecca for small family-run wineries. I doubt if there is any city in the U.S. that has more tasting rooms per capita than Woodinville.

We spent two days in Woodinville last week, barely enough time to get the lay of the land. We visited several tasting rooms, having a most enjoyable time and discovering the boutique wines of Washington.

There are a few tasting rooms scattered here and there in Woodinville but most of them are congregated in two areas, the Hollywood Hills and the Warehouse District.

Hollywood Hills

This area is a mix of tasting rooms, small shops, restaurants and wine bars. Four complexes within walking distance of each other make up the Hollywood Hills area. We started our exploration at the Purple Café and War Bar at 14459 Woodinville Redmond Rd. NE. “The Purple,” as the natives call it, has four locations all centered around the Seattle area. It is a terrific wine bar and one of the best we have experienced. The food is delicious as well. Just a few storefronts away from the Purple, we found very nice wines at the Sparkman Winery and William Church.

In another complex is the Station Pizzeria with the Gorman tasting room and Phillips tasting room adjacent. The three share a patio and one can order from the Pizzeria and then order samples of wine from either tasting room. No worries about the weather because the heat lamps are always at the ready. It is a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Station Pizzeria in Woodinville

Patio at Station Pizzeria and the Gorman and Phillips tasting room

Warehouse District

The Warehouse District is a breed of a different color than the Hollywood Hills area. It is in a commercial area and as far as I could tell, has nothing but wineries in the industrial complex, perhaps as many as 50. Most of these are working wineries, making their wine in the back of the warehouse and showcasing their wines up front in their tasting rooms. Tasting rooms vary from elaborate to quite simple. At first we thought the place was a little depressing with no scenic views of hillsides or vineyards. We arrived a little before noon and the place seemed desolate, with very few wineries open. When we left a few hours later the place was lively with a large number of visitors. Since the wineries are small you are likely to find the family members and winemakers working the tasting room. That makes for a much more enjoyable visit.

Karen Wagner, owner of Alta Cellars

Owner Karen Wagner works the tasting room at Alta Cellars

The wineries of the Warehouse District are open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5 pm, or for special evening events. All the wineries get their fruit from eastern Washington. At harvest the grapes are shipped to wineries in the Warehouse District in less than four hours. We ran into one tour van that shuttled visitors to the various tasting room locations with a Hop-on-and-off type tour.

One of the wineries we enjoyed on our Woodinville journey was Page Cellars. Here in a one-minute video where owner and winemaker Jim Page tells us about his own winery and others in the Woodinville area.

Take a look.

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