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.

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.”

For more informatio, visit:

Woodinville’s Warehouse Wine District to host ‘Crush’

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

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:

New menu at Fireside Cellars

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Fireside Cellars at Willows Lodge launches a new menu of  barrel-aged batch cocktails to coincide with Seattle Cocktail Week (October 13-18). Come sample the new cocktails during Happier Hour at Fireside Cellars Wednesday, October 12, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Spearheaded by Willows Lodge Restaurant and Wine Managers Matthew Davis and Jennifer Schmitt, these expertly developed concoctions are aged for three weeks in barrels from local distillery Woodinville Whiskey Co.

The first batch features three selections including the White Manhattan, a blend of Headlong White Dog from Woodinville Whiskey Co.; Hanky Panky, a classic gin drink featuring Voyager Gin from Pacific Distillery; and the Colonial, a blend of applejack brandy, herbal liqueur and allspice rum.

Each of these Barrel Aged Batch Cocktails will be available for $13 or $6.50 during Happier Hour starting on Oct. 12.

The grapes are coming!

  • Written by Sarah Ness, intern at Micheal Florentino Cellars

After an early, devastating freeze last November, a cool June which stifled bud development and a cooler than normal summer, wine grapes are finally starting to reach maturity. Even a few days earlier than in 2010, which was also, another cool vintage.

This still puts harvest about 10 days behind “normal,” but has caught up quite a bit from early spring when the vines were three weeks behind. If this current weather pattern keeps up through September and October, all should be well.

A lot of grape growers and vintners are particularly pleased with the quality of the fruit. The weather these past two weeks has been perfect, with moderate-to-extra-warm daytime temperatures of up into the 90s, and cool nights have helped push grapes to a desired brix level and optimum physiological maturity. This combination of climate conditions will keep acids at a higher, optimum level, with low pHs, both of which are qualities you want in grapes that will produce excellent quality wine.

First to be ready for crush this week is Sauvignon Blanc. With possibly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Merlot from Red Mountain next week.

Syrah and even late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon should be ripening in the next 14 to 21 days. The rest of harvest is expected to stretch into early November. Hopefully, harvest will end well before the first frost, to ensure that the vines have enough time to go dormant, and avoid die-back.