Surrounded by lush forests and farmground, the quiet town of Woodinville is almost rural. Thirty minutes from major cities like Bellevue and Seattle, Woodinville is growing more popular as a tourist attraction. One industry that is growing rapidly in the Woodinville community is the wine industry.
Wine has been a critical part of Woodinville culture for about 40 years with more than 100 different wineries. Some of its more famous locations such as Chateau Ste. Michelle have been around since 1976. Each of the 100 wineries has a different process on how they create it.
Think of wineries as restaurants; some are more personal with detailed processes like handpicking and choosing the grapes. Others are more into mass production, using machine picking and pressing to meet the rapid demand that they have.
“I choose not to expand my business,” said JM Cellars owner John Bigelow. Bigelow is the owner of JM cellars; a local winery in Woodinville which was established in 1998. Bigelow prides his business on producing a diverse wine selection while still keeping the high quality that his customers expect from him. “It gives me time to pick my own grapes and my process,” Bigelow said.
Wine was not always a huge part of everyday life in Woodinville. Its wine industry is fairly new, starting with the establishment of Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1976. Soon many more wineries followed suit as well. The city also played a big part in the expansion of the wine industry. In 2007, the planning commission completed and enacted the Economic Development Strategic Action Plan which was a plan to develop Woodinville into a premier tourism destination. It allowed for business owners to get leases and licenses easier.
With businesses being able to get their licenses easier, this prompted the boom for the wine industry in Woodinville.
“I really feel like the growth has been amazing; when we started in 2000, there were four tasting rooms and now there are 52,” said Bigelow.
Using its rural surroundings to its advantage, Woodinville was able to become an epicenter for outdoor activities such as golf, horseback riding, hot air balloon riding and hiking.
Based on these activities that targeted an older demographic of adults (ages 30+), wine was able to fit right in and quickly become one of Woodinville’s most sought after luxury. Out of 800 wineries in Washington, 100 of them are in Woodinville and that number is only expanding as Woodinville’s popularity increases. As John Bigelow said, wine “puts Woodinville on the map.”