Woodinville’s Warehouse Wine District offers visitors an up-close and personal experience

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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.”

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