Alexandria Nicole Cellars is located in the basement of the Hollywood Schoolhouse at 14810 NE 145th St. in Woodinville right on the main roundabout in the Tourist District. Its location is in the same area as several other tasting rooms all within walking distance from one another.
When first walking into the tasting room you get the feel of a different era. They did a great job turning the basement of this old schoolhouse into a warm and inviting place to taste wine.
Everyone was upbeat and we were warmly greeted as we entered. Along the back wall of the tasting room is a rock wall with a surprise. The surprise is that it contains a secret sliding door, which connects to a special wine club room with another tasting bar and a kitchen. This is the room where special events are held (every Friday evening from 5-8 p.m. for wine club members) and also serves as a place for wine club members to congregate. What a clever addition to this quaint tasting room.
In tasting wines it is always a bonus when expectations are exceeded. We had the opportunity to try five different wines. Being the white wine snobs that we are, we were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed the Viognier which seemed like the perfect wine with a light meal or on a warm summer evening. The other wines we tasted were Shepard’s, Quarry Butte, Malbec and the 2008 Destiny. All of them were enjoyable, so much so that we even had to buy a bottle.
Derrick, who did the pouring, was informative and offered insight about the wines. His knowledge about the winery and the people who work there to produce these fine wines added perspective to the tasting.
We asked Derrick about one of his favorite things about working in the winery and he said, “you get to meet fun people” and “no one gets mad at you.” How many of us can say that about our jobs?
The winery itself is in Paterson, Washington at the Destiny Ridge Estate high on a butte near the Columbia River. One of the more impressive accolades that the winery has earned is that they were selected as the 2011 Washington Winery of the Year in the Spring 2011 edition of Wine Press Northwest.
Our overall experience with Alexandria Nicole was outstanding as they delivered on the three most important things that make wine tasting fun. They have a great tasting room, staffed with really friendly people and pour great wine. The tasting is $10 which is applied to any wine purchase. The wines we tasted were in the $20-$40 range. Tasting room hours are from 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Thursday to Monday.
As the rain and cold return to the Northwest, Redhook has reached into the southern hemisphere to find inspiration for its latest beer in the Blueline Series: Down Under Stout. A smooth and creamy brew modeled loosely after Australian and sweeter style stouts, Down Under Stout will be available for a limited time on draught and in 22-ounce bottles in Redhook’s backyard markets of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
“We’re excited to release a stout as the latest in the Blueline Series,” said Redhook brewmaster Greg Deuhs. “Down Under Stout offers a creamy malt smoothness and sublime roasted barley flavor, complimented by underlying hop bitterness. Together it creates a complex, yet well-balanced version of the style.”
Down Under Stout is dark in color with a rich and decadent taste. Brewed with plenty of specialty malts, the beer has a robust, full-bodied flavor perfect for those typical Northwest rainy-with-a-high-of-45-degrees forecasts. Redhook’s Down Under Stout has a 7.0 percent ABV and 55 IBUs.
Welcome to the inaugural column of The Woodinville Winers. Our intent is to anonymously visit local wineries and tasting rooms and tell you about our experiences, the people we meet and of course, the wines that they pour.
Woodinville Wine Country started well before the City of Woodinville was incorporated. Back in 1976, Ste. Michelle vintners decided to open a French-style chateau in Woodinville and changed its name to Chateau Ste. Michelle. One of the people instrumental in making Woodinville synonymous with wine country was Allen Shoup, who spent 20 years as CEO of our first Woodinville winery.
We thought it fitting to open this column with a visit to “The Library,” a tasting room that showcases the wines from Allen’s latest venture, Longshadows (www.longshadows.com). Longshadows is actually a joint venture of seven different wineries, each with winemakers from a different region of the world. The goal is to bring their expertise to Washington state and showcase what can be done with the grapes that are grown here.
You won’t see any signs for Longshadows or The Library from the road. It is a small room located in the Tourist District, between Apex Cellars and Village Wines (in the same retail building as the Mazatlan restaurant). We were quite impressed with the small but warm, inviting decor of the tasting room as we were greeted by Michelle who was doing the pouring that day. The Library actually looks and feels like a small private library, complete with comfortable chairs and even a fireplace.
On the day we visited, we got lucky, as it was almost Storytime. Storytime adds live music and food to the intimate library atmosphere. The musician was Myck, who was playing guitar and singing that day and was scheduled to sing the National Anthem for the Seahawks game the next day.
As we settled into our oversized chairs, we were served the first of seven wines that were being showcased that day – each from a different winery and winemaker. Each comes with a story about what part of the world the winemaker was from and what part of the state the grapes were from. While all of the wines we had were outstanding, two of them really stood out for us. The first was the 2007 Feather, a Cabernet Sauvignon by winemaker Randy Dunn who established his reputation at Caymus Winery, in Napa Valley.
Our other favorite was a Bordeaux-style blend called Pirouette by winemaker Philippe Melka, who has made wines in Australia, Italy, California and France.
Overall, our experience at The Library was excellent, along with the wines.
These highly acclaimed wines are mostly in the $50 to $55 range. The tasting fee was $15 and well worth it and is applied to any purchases that you make. The library is open from noon-5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday with Storytime on Fridays from 4-7.
Jim and Carol Parsons of Red Sky Winery. Photo courtesy of Red Sky Winery.
When folks come to Woodinville to go wine tasting, one of the key areas they head for is the Warehouse Wine District. Here they’ll find dozens of artisan wineries within a one minute radius.
“It’s so convenient for people because they can park once and walk to all these great boutique wineries and tasting rooms,” says Alicia Hansen, marketing and event coordinator for Woodinville Warehouse Wineries. “The atmosphere is fun and they can have a very personal and intimate experience because the wineries are on a smaller scale. They can meet the winemakers and get the opportunity to ask questions and hear directly from the source.”
The Warehouse Wine District has been evolving for the past 10 years and during this time, it has experienced unprecedented growth and recognition. Its first tenant was Austin Robaire Vintners, which has since closed its doors. Today, however, there are 40 wineries (and one distillery) that make their home in this industrial complex.
The majority of the businesses produce their products on site, which allows visitors to get an up- close view of the production process. “We have lots of open houses and release parties here,” explains Hansen. “And then there’s the Thursday Wine Walk, which happens every third Thursday of the month between February and October. This event has gotten very popular and we have on average about 200 people that show up each time.”
Hansen adds that many of the facilities are open on weekends for tastings, which also draw visitors from around the Seattle area and beyond. Several offer private event space and even specialty wine dinners.
Carol Parsons of Red Sky Winery, who has been in the Warehouse Wine District since 2005, enjoys the location. She likes the communal feel of the space and says there is a good feeling among the owners and winemakers. “We share equipment and borrow supplies from one another,” comments Parsons. “We help each other out when needed.” She adds, “It’s really great for so many of us to be in one area. It makes it accessible and easy for people to taste a lot of different wines.”
Leslie Balsley, proprietor of William Church Winery, was attracted to the Warehouse District back in 2005 because she felt it made good sense to be with other like businesses. “It was a power in numbers thing for us,” she explains. “We wanted to be a part of creating an area that people would come to. Little did we know that it would flourish so well.” Balsley notes that the wineries that are housed in the industrial park are a mix of up and coming businesses and well-established facilities. “These are all small businesses trying to grow and become better,” she adds. “Because of this, it’s a friendly community where winemakers share information and equipment.”
Dan Howard of Pondera Winery echoes Balsley’s sentiments. He’s been in the Warehouse District for the past one and a half years, having moved there from the Totem Lake area.
“That was the Twilight Zone of wineries and tasting rooms,” says Howard of his previous locale. “The Warehouse District has got the critical mass where most of the people come to when they want to taste wine. That’s where we wanted to be.”
The local man is very comfortable in his new space and appreciates the sense of community the Warehouse District provides for winemakers. He strongly feels that Woodinville can become a world class destination with the help of the City of Woodinville.
“The City needs to work with wineries and promote the tasting rooms, as well as develop the necessary infrastructure to support them,” he comments. One of the more recent tenants to move into the area is Convergence Zone Cellars. Owner and winemaker Scott Greenberg opted for the location because he, too, wanted to be in a space surrounded by similar businesses. “It was the synergy that drew me,” he says. “The Warehouse is a cooperative community and everyone gets along well. It’s nice to be able to share knowledge and expertise, as well as equipment.”
In regards to the competition, he comments, “The pro is that we’re a draw to be in this area with so many wineries, but the downside is that I can’t hold the consumer’s palette exclusively.”
Greenberg notes that the plethora of wineries provides an identity for Woodinville and a reason for tourists to come here. “It’s really become an attraction and a destination, which is great for the community.”
Woodinville Warehouse Wineries will be hosting “Crush,” a wine and food festival on Saturday, October 22, noon – 5 p.m. There will be mobile food vendors and restaurants, grape stomps and punch downs, winery and cellar tours, live music and of course, plenty of wine tasting.
There is no charge for this event, however, regular tasting room fees apply at each participating winery.
For more information about Woodinville Warehouse Wineries, visit: www.woodwarewine.com.