Food & Wine
Seattle Urban Winetasting Adventures
Good winetasting in Seattle just got a lot closer to downtown! I used a long layover during a recent mileage run to Seattle as the perfect excuse to check out Seattle’s growing urban winemaking district. I’d enjoyed nearby Woodinville’s industrial district earlier this year so was looking forward to this experience.
Not a whole lot has been written about many of the Seattle urban wineries, other than the marketing website, so it was tough to narrow down which of the dozens I would visit. Pretty much all of them get their grapes from the eastern part of the state, so I picked a mix. They’re all located in the industrial SODO area which makes for a fun feel. Below is a brief summary of each, I’ll be writing more full reviews in the coming week.
My urban winery adventure started with the location closest to the SEA-TAC airport and right across the street from the King County airport: Charles Smith Jet City.
Charles Smith Jet City is a new addition and the winery’s third location. It had a fun, open and funky vibe where the actual wine facilities could double as a dance floor.
Definitely splurge on the $20 reserve tasting. The Sixto Chardonnays are out of this world and several from the K line received scores of 94 and even 100.
Then I popped over one block to feast on a savory crepe at Hangar Cafe. Had the weather been nice I could have sat out in the outdoor patio with a $6 pint size mimosa and watched the planes take off and land, but as it was flooding outside I opted for the cozy dining room which boasts no more than 10 tables.
The NW Wine Academy website had looked pretty awesome. But I was skeptical about student made wines, especially when I wound up in a college parking lot.
But it is definitely worth a stop! The tastings (3 wines when I was there, 7 being released the next week) were free and the wine suprisingly good. I could not have guessed they were student creations. And the student run tasting counter was one of the most fun and informative experiences I had all day.
The next winery on my list didn’t open til 4PM and was a scant 3 miles from the Academy, so I stopped for another highly recommended snack. The Maison Tavern boasts a nondescript exterior and a speakeasy interior (I dug the bathtub in the hall).
But more importantly they have Scotch Candied Bacon.
I had hoped it would be like the prailene bacon I loved in New Orleans. It wasn’t, but good in its own right. $4 gets you two strips of hot syrup coated thick cut bacon, perfect as pre-dinner snack.
Elsom Cellars was my next stop, just a street or two over on 4th Ave. It’s tucked in the same shopping center with 2bar Spirits so I popped in to pick up a split of bourbon for a friend.
Elsom moved last year from Woodinville and has great outdoor patio seating, not great for my rainy day, but a lofty inside tasting room as well where you sip next to the barrels.
Their female winemakers is making some lovely sophisticated Malbecs and blends, but the standout right now is their newly released rose!
Barely a mile down the road was Kerloo Cellars, my next stop. Loved the gorgeous tasting room with great lighting and high ceilings. Liked the wine even more.
They have a rose and reds (their white sold out) — all were good but I highly recommend the Malbec which is reminiscint of the amazing Malbecs that don’t get exported from Argentina — all luscious ripe tart red fruits. Mmmmmm.
I had planned a stop at Scarborough Winery which is down the hall from Kerloo to end my day, but unfortunately they had an unannounced closing that night. Note that Structure Wines is also in the same parking lot, as well as a Brewery with a restaurant, so if you want to maximize a cab or Uber ride, this is a great place to stay put.
Fortunately everywhere I went had lived up to the hype and I can recommend all 4 wineries I visited. The best part of the afternoon was developing a better sense of Washington wine regions. I’d known little to nothing and each place I went they were great about helping me fill in the gaps and better understand the nuances.
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