The Woodinville Winers visit Brian Carter Cellars

  • Written by Mike McClure and Terry Morse
Brian Carter Cellars ( is located in that “Little Yellow House” that you see next to the southern roundabout in the Tourist District as you drive on the Woodinville Redmond Road (just in front of the Purple Café).  The house has a great outdoor deck to the south with sweeping views of the Sammamish Valley and Mount Rainer (on a clear day).

As we entered the building, we immediately got a warm and inviting feeling as we were greeted warmly by Ken and his daughter Laura.  The inside of the house is separated into two sections, one for public tastings and one for private tastings and events.  Ken and Laura were pouring five wines that day, each containing some of the best Washington grapes.  They were expertly handling the full tasting room of eager winers.

Before we were even able to sample our first wine, we ran into Mike Stevens, who founded Brian Carter Cellars in 2005 along with its namesake winemaker, Brian Carter.  We asked Mike what his favorite part about founding the winery was, now that he has been at it for seven years. He immediately said it was making interpersonal connections with people – which seems to go hand in hand with drinking wine.  He sometimes even gets pictures from customers sent to him of places they are enjoying Brian Carter wines. In what other industry do customers send you pictures of them using your product?

During the wine tasting, Laura poured us five different wines, one white and four reds. All Brian Carter wines are blends. In fact, their tagline is “A Passion for the Art of Blending” and these wines certainly have passion.  Each wine’s name matches the painting on the label in some way. Oriana (Latin for “Golden Lady”), is a while blend of grapes from the Yakima valley.  This might be the ultimate red drinkers white wine. It is easy to picture having a bottle on a sunny day from the deck of the tasting room.  My favorite Brian Carter red was the 2007 Le Coursier, a Bordeaux-Style blend that is representative of just what Brian can do with outstanding Washington grapes.

Mike and Brian seem to be doing quite well after just a few short years in business together as they are already winning industry acclaim.  The wines are produced just down the street at the Columbia Winery building, since Columbia moved production to Sunnyside a couple of years ago.  What a great example of coop-etition among Washington wineries.

Our experience at Brian Carter Cellars was outstanding.  The wines, the people, and the tasting room are all very inviting.  Prices range from $15 to $50.  The tasting fee was $10, but is applied to any purchases that you make.  The tasting room is open daily from 12-5.

The Woodinville Winers visit Covington Cellars

  • Written by Mike McClure and Terry Morse
Covington Cellars ( is located in the North Industrial area of Woodinville which is home to about 40 wineries. T

his group refers to themselves as the “Woodinville Warehouse Wineries” and even has their own website (

Covington Cellars can be accessed by turning onto 142nd Street from N. Woodinville Way and then looking for the winery A-board signs. Or better yet, download the map from the website as there are no signs from the main road.

The Warehouse Winery area is a wine tasting paradise.  In reality, a serious wine taster could take several days in this area alone to go through all the tasting rooms.

Don’t be fooled by the exterior appearance of a business park.

This area is full of tasting rooms and in many cases small production wineries. Each stop is a unique experience.

When we first pulled up to Covington Cellars, we could hear sounds of people having a great time with much laughter and conversation going on behind the warehouse doors.

As we walked into the building the paradigm was immediately transformed from being in a business park.

The owners have done an incredible job of transforming this space into a full production winery and event space.The tasting room was inviting with the tasting bar near the front door. As you look around you immediately notice that this is more than a tasting room.  The entire facility takes up six warehouse bays and includes full wine production capability as well as a full commercial kitchen.

We were greeted by Cindy Lawson (Cindy and her husband David are the owners) who spent time with us telling us about the wines and history of Covington Cellars.

Because of Cindy’s passion for food they have combined the two into this unique experience.

They offer several lunch type entrees (made daily by their in house chef Trinity) which can easily be paired with a variety of wines that are produced onsite.

They also do a winemakers dinner once a month as well as private events.

Cindy was a terrific host.  You can see her passion for this winery and the food they serve.

She shared some great stories like how they actually started making wine in Covington in their garage.  Their friends encouraged them enough to open their winery in Woodinville in 2005.

She said their biggest reward since opening this winery is all the friends they have made from all the visitors over the years. Cindy considers her customers to be an extension of her own family.

We tried several of the wines they were tasting that day.

Our favorites were the 2007 Prima Micela, the 2007 Reserve Syrah and the 2007 Cabernet.

All of these wines are made in small quantities by artisan winemakers, sometimes less than 100 cases.

Their wines range from $16-$48 in price.

The tasting room is open Fridays from 1–5 p.m., Saturdays from 12 noon – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 – 5 p.m.

In addition, you can order wine by the glass and kitchen specials on Friday evenings from 5 – 9:30  p.m.

The winery has a Facebook page that posts the specials each week.

The Woodinville Winers visit Alexandria Nicole Cellars

  • Written by Mike McClure and Terry Morse
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.

Redhook Latest: Blueline Series – Down Under Stout“Dark, Smooth and Goes Down Easy”

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

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.

The Woodinville Winers visit Longshadows Wineries

  • Written by Mike McClure and Terry Morse

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 (  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.