It’s about time someone had the balls to critique the tasting rooms of Woodinville. This is not the typical vague, passive-aggressive generalized rants like a typical ‘wine blogger’ like “Oh this wine is corked.” Oh boo-hoo. Call it out or stop your whining, Sean.
Perhaps the following commentary will help the warehouse district’s newest winery, Kevin White Winery (located where Baer Winery resides at), from avoiding the mistakes made by his peers.
Ratings are based on my experiences and are used to recommend (or not) to my guests and business acquaintances. I place heavier emphasis on: (1) easy access; (2) tasting room appearance; (3) tasting room staff etiquette; (4) conviviality; (5) wine knowledge, both general and specific to the wines poured; (6) enthusiasm; and (7) intangibles.
Wineries, take this commentary to heart. This is to help improve your bottom line and, possibly, clean up the crap that is hindering your sales. Isn’t that why you have a tasting room in the first place?
Adams Bench Winery (+ unique location; family atmosphere; smiles; enthusiasm; exciting red wines. – inconsistently open (hint: join mailing list))
Barrage Cellars (+ Kevin’s a hoot; infectious enthusiasm; great stories; grossly underrated wines. – interior design)
Facelli Winery (+ Lou is your happy Italian grandpa; been open since 1988; only family working the counter. – hidden location)
Januik/Novelty Hill Winery (+ best of the large-production wineries; spacious; friendly staff; great selection of bling wines. – overcapacity at times; “cold” interior)
You need help, PRONTO
Airfield Estates Winery (bar counter too small; disorganized interior; overworked staff; wines inconsistent)
Elevation Northwest Cellars (enthusiasm?; what interior design?; label still looks like predecessor Arlington Road Cellars; only three wines)
Silver Lake/Hoodsport/Glen Fiona (the wines are (insert rectal substance synonym here); some staff you just want to flick into oblivion; dead atmosphere)
I think of one word when you mention this tasting room:
Alder Ridge: confused
Alexandria Nicole Cellars: pub?
Alta Cellars good start
Amavi/Pepper Bridge Winery: overpriced
Amelia Bleu/DeArmond Family/Patterson Cellars/Woods Lake: any more fit in there?
Anton Ville Winery: quaint
Baer Winery: stuck (move forward from your past)
Betz Family Winery: exclusive
Bookwalter Winery: open late
Brian Carter Cellars: blends
Canon de Sol/Irlandes: hot babes, way overpriced
Celaeno/Elsom Cellars: middle
Challenger Ridge/Patit Creek Cellars: knock, knock. Is this Hollywood Hill?
Chateau Ste. Michelle: tasting counter too small
Chatter Creek Winery: garage
Columbia Winery: they’re trying
Convergence Zone Cellars: small
Covington Cellars/II Vintners: the next big thing
Cowan Vineyards: farmer
Cuillin Hills Winery: lack of interior design highlights Derek’s persona
Darby Winery: red wine and women
Davenport Cellars: rooting for them
DeLille Cellars: Carriage House vs. Chateau. Two different experiences.
Des Voigne Cellars: jazz never tasted so good
DiStefano Winery: move closer to the others
Dusted Valley Vintners: great red Rhones
Edmonds Winery: pulse?
Efeste Cellars: club pick
Flying Dreams Winery: Spain lives here
Gard/Smasne/Farm Boy: so many good wines
Gecko/Michael Florentino Cellars: Taze him
Goose Ridge: on the upswing
Gordon Brothers: vibe-free
Gorman Winery: release parties
Guardian Cellars: wine club coming…book ‘em, Danno
Hestia Cellars: be happy Shannon, be happy
Hollywood Hill Vineyard: timing
Isenhower Cellars: why people used to drive to Walla Walla
JM Cellars: location location location, oh and great wines too
Kaella Winery: too small to stand out at this time
Kestrel Vintners: need more happy
Live Wire: see Darby Winery
Mark Ryan Winery: success has spoiled a little. Just a little.
Matthews Estate: room too small
Northwest Totem Cellars: get closer
Obelisco Estate: too pricey
Otis Kenyon Wine: still incubating
Page Cellars: ‘Pour Fool’ killing your rep with overhype
Pomum Cellars: Spain of the south warehouse district
Pondera Winery: wines creeping up to quality of hanging art
Red Sky Winery: 1st time I left a tasting room without buying wine
Robert Ramsay Cellars: underrated syrah
Ross Andrew Winery: too good to still be in the shadow of Mark Ryan
Sparkman Cellars: expensive but worth it
Stevens Winery: a must-visit when in the south warehouse district
Tefft Cellars: warm alternative to big box producers
Tenor Wines: world-class wines in warehouse-class box of a room
Trouvaille Winery (by appt): sleeper pick for elegant reds
William Church Winery: would love to see Rod laugh more
Woodhouse Family Cellars: pretentious at times; wines overpriced
Woodinville Wine Cellars: in no-man’s land
XSV: in no-man’s land
Z Wines (Zerba Cellars): humility does sell wines
I’m on the way to: Alleromb Winery, Boudreaux Cellars, Cashmere, Cougar Crest Estate, DenHoed Wine Estates, Lachini Wine Co., Matteo Wines, Trust Cellars, White Cellars, and Pacific Wine Enterprises!
A special note of thanks goes to Michele Rennie of Wine Direct Solutions for providing inspiration and advice. If I operated a winery, she would be my marketing consultant. No question.
To the wine…
Food pairing was a bloody, beefy flank steak. You betcha.
Tasted at 59-68 degrees on the IR temp gun. Dark magenta in the glass, this velvety merlot seduced with pleasant aromatics of black cherry liqueur, ripe plum, raspberry, and A&W root beer. Thick, dense and full-bodied on the palate, the flavors followed true with black fruits, cloves, menthol, dark chocolate, tobacco, and red spices with moderate resilience.
Alcohol: 14.4%. Vineyards: Stillwater Creek, Alder Ridge, Weinbau, Wahluke. 5% cabernet sauvignon. Aged 18 months in new and 1 year-old mostly French oak. pH 3.63. TA 0.54. 1248 cases. Rated: 91. Value: $22. Paid: $22. Music pairing: “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.