Merlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our Attention

It’s Time to Celebrate Washington State Merlot

When you look at a wine list, do you check out the Merlot options? If this varietal hasn’t been on you radar before, it’s time you give it a try. A grape truly worth getting excited about? Absolutely!

Merlot grows in many places of the wine world, but growing merlot grapes that stand on their own requires a very specific climate, one that Eastern Washington provides. The cold nights, wind and arid climate all play a key role in gently stressing the grapes, keeping their skin thick and their flavor concentrated. The result is a grape with great wine making potential.

You can find extraordinary bottles of merlots to choose from. This is an approachable grape varietal that is known for being soft, ripe and elegant. Let’s indulge in some delicious examples of note-worthy Washington State Merlots. We’ll have a full glass please.

DeLille Cellars Merlot 
DeLille Cellars 2015 Merlot: A blend of four great vineyards from the Yakima and Red Mountain AVAs. These plots span the four compass points of the viticultural region showcasing Red Willow, DuBrul, Klipsun and Upchurch. Blending fruit from these celebrated vineyards adds complexity; yet the charm and purity of the region’s Merlot remains the central focus of this wine. This wine has received 90 points from Jeb Dunnuck. “A beautiful Merlot, it offers classic notes of black cherries, dark chocolate and roasted herbs in a supple, full-bodied, sexy, rounded style.” – Jeb Dunnuck.

Merlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our AttentionBrian Carter Cellars ONE Merlot
Brian Carter Cellars 2013 ONE Merlot: A single varietal single vineyard release. Brian Carter has made a lot of nice merlot over the years but either they did not reach the quality to stand on their own or Brian needed them for one of his bends (always the priority). In 2013 Brian had a lot of good Merlot for his blends, so he was able to keep this lot, clearly the best from the vintage, for bottling on its own in the ONE program. This wine from Olsen Vineyard is an outstanding example of what this variety can do in Washington State. Having tasted Merlots from all over the world, Brian has maintained that Washington has the best expression of Merlot fruit from anywhere. This wine is dark garnet in color. The intense and complex aromas include black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate with hints of earth and toasted oak. The palate is round with just the right hints of tannin for aging and a balanced lengthy finish.

J Bookwalter MerlotMerlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our Attention
J Bookwalter 2015 Readers Merlot: An outstanding Merlot from Washington’s revered old vineyards Conner Lee and Dionysus. Their Readers blend tips its hat to all exploratory readers of books and wine. Blending Conner Lee Vineyard’s 1992 old block Merlot and Dionysus Vineyards’ block 15 Merlot combines two super character vineyards. Elephant Mountain Vineyard’s Cabernet bring spice and complexity to the blend. This powerful wine offers fragrant cherries and chocolate with rich marrionberry flavors in this delicious easy drinking style. The 2015 Readers Merlot just received the following scores: 90-Wine Enthusiast 88-Jeb Dunnuck 95-James Suckling. The 2015 Vintage of Readers Merlot shows slightly more acid and structure than your “quintessential” Washington Merlot making it perfect for pizza, pasta, grilled or braised meats.

Merlot: A Worthy Red Varietal Deserving of Our AttentionMathew’s Merlot
Mathew’s Winery Merlot: In celebration of Merlot season and the exciting release of their 2015 Merlot, they are offering a 3-year Merlot vertical (2013, 2014, 2015).

2015
“The 2015 Merlot is a blend of 78% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon that was brought up in 69% new French oak. Crème de cassis, violets, a touch of vanilla bean, and incense all give way to a rich, voluptuous, beautifully textured, ripe Merlot that has sweet tannin and a silky, elegant texture. It’s ready to go, yet should keep for at least a decade.”
– 93 POINTS, JEB DUNNUCK

 

 

2014
“Plum and cherry aromas are lifted by a note of wild herbs. Compellingly plush and generous in the mouth, offering a distinctly layered texture to its flavors of black raspberry, cigar box, milk chocolate and herbs. Already extremely appealing but I wouldn’t describe it as soft. The long, palate-staining finish builds inexorably. A knockout chocolatey Merlot with outstanding breadth and finesse.”
-93 POINTS, STEPHEN TANZER

2013
“Like with the Cabernet, the 2013 Merlot was reviewed last year under the Tenor 2:2 label. Incorporating 24% Cabernet Franc, it has a complex bouquet of plum pit, blood orange, leafy herbs and mint to go with a charming, ripe, supple style on the palate. I love its silky, elegant texture, and while good now, it should benefit from a few years in bottle.”

[photo cred: Duval Images, DeLille Cellars, Brian Carter Cellars, J Bookwalter, Matthews Winery]

 

 

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Merlot is Back

By Guest Writer: Chris Upchurch

I walked into the cellar the other day and a friend of mine was sporting a baseball hat that said, “Make Merlot Great Again.” How cool is that? I remember a time when we believed Merlot was going to be the king varietal here in Washington. All the journalists were raving about it. It seemed to have more structure than many California Merlots, and Chateau Ste. Michelle was planting it like crazy. Napa was going to make Cabernets, Oregon would make Pinot Noir, and we would make that deliciously layered varietal called Merlot. All was right in the world.

Despite this rosy forecast, Cabernet Sauvignon continued to dominate the red wine market. The movie Sideways didn’t help Merlot either. I told people that the character who refused to drink Merlot also drank from a spittoon later in the movie, and his favorite French wines, Petrus and Cheval Blanc, were Merlot dominant. Still, Merlot sales cooled while Syrah gained popularity and more and more outstanding Cabernets were being made here in the Northwest.

Regardless of the trends, I’ve always loved making Merlot. It’s a varietal that always delivers a key trait in my winemaking criteria: deliciousness. Soft and accessible, Merlot is always a crowd pleaser. It delivers the whole gamut of fruits and spices, yet still rewards aging in the cellar. And it grows so well here in Washington. From the Wahluke Valley to Walla Walla and everywhere in between, Merlot is the second most planted grape here after Cabernet Sauvignon. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were over 9,000 acres of Merlot planted in Washington as of 2017, a 54% increase from 2006.

You can imagine how pleased I am to see that Merlot is back. At DeLille Cellars, we’re making more than ever. Our Merlot-dominant D2 is our most popular wine and is recognized around the country and in several international markets. There are well over 100 varietal Merlots produced in the state, not to mention all of Washington’s Bordeaux-style blends where Merlot is key. While much of the world still struggles with Merlot (name a famous Australian Merlot), ours only gets better. With increasing vine age, better clonal selection and a whole host of other improvements, we’re making subtle, mouthwatering Merlots that I dare anyone to try and not love. At Walla Walla’s annual celebration this year, Merlot was the featured grape, and producers from around the world were invited to participate and compare. Most agreed that Washington Merlots were second to none, further demonstrating how fantastic this varietal is for our state and industry.

Finally, I noticed that the new generation of wine drinkers really loves Merlot. They’re not necessarily hanging around the local wine shop on a Saturday afternoon reading wine critics’ reviews and scores; they’re just looking for wines that deliver delicious pleasure to be shared with friends. While all varietals can be hedonistic, Merlot seems best suited to this aspect of wine drinking—it’s simply a delight to drink. And that’s probably the biggest reason to believe that Merlot has a big future. While I won’t try to predict just how big, one thing’s for sure: I’ve got to get one of those hats.

[photo cred: Duval Images and DeLille Cellars]

 

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Get a Taste of Woodinville Wine Country’s VIP Experiences

In Woodinville Wine Country, we have a whole menu of VIP wine experiences.

Whether you are seeking to enhance your wine knowledge, get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of winemaking, or simply looking to enjoy some new and unique wine pairings, there truly is something for everyone.

So now that we’ve got your attention, shall we explore some of the options?

Novelty Hill-Januik

You are cordially invited to step into an experience that introduces you to what makes Washington wines unique and what differentiates veteran acclaimed Washington State winemaker Mike Januik’s wine.

Private Reserve Tour & Tasting: On this tour a knowledgeable guide will lead you and your guests through an unforgettable tour and tasting experience. Be prepared to take a walking tour of the winery’s fermentation and barrel rooms providing an insider’s look at winemaking.  Along the way, you will enjoy a guided seated tasting of four specially selected limited-release wines, each thoughtfully paired with a small bite courtesy of winery Chef Seth Fernald. A true connoisseurs’ tasting you won’t want to miss.

Patterson Cellars

Wine and Chocolate Pairing Experience: Celebrate your decadent side with a flight featuring five winemaker-selected Patterson Cellars wines paired with distinctive, culinary-inspired chocolates from Seattle chocolate company, jcoco. Walk through each pairing for an educational and unique wine tasting experience.

Get a Taste of Woodinville Wine Country’s VIP Experiences

 

Wine and Cheese Pairing Experience: Indulge your fondness for the finer things in life with a tasting experience focused on artisan cheese and wine pairing. While sampling five current release and reserve wines, you will be served local and European cheese accompanied by fresh fruit.

Charcuterie & Roasted Vegetable Pairing Experiences: Savor the culinary tasting experience featuring both important and locally sourced gourmet offerings thoughtfully paired with five select Patterson Cellar wines. The flavor and textures of each pairing combine to create a perfect experience for the senses. And if you are so inclined, enhance your tasting experience by adding a selection of Heritage mini sammies and roasted garlic & basil potato chips.

Panther Creek Cellars

Friday Night Vertical Tasting Experience: What are you doing Friday night? Why not join Panther Creek Cellars for a flight? Come to their Woodinville tasting room and experience the evolution of the Panther Creek Cellars wine. Taste side by side different vintages for an in depth tasting of their highly esteemed Pinots. Each month on selected Fridays they will be featuring a vertical tasting of their different vineyards with small bites provided to pair with the wines.

Get a Taste of Woodinville Wine Country’s VIP Experiences

Madelaine, the tasting Room & Assistant General Manager will be there to walk you through the experience. Madelaine also happens to have over 13 years in the wine industry and is a Certified Sommelier. At Panther Creek, their goal for making wine is simple. “We hope that each wine will express the personality of its vintage and character of its vineyard.”

[photo cred: Wyss Photography]

 

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Treat yourself to the Chateau Experience

The wine experience. It’s the biggest reason people come to Woodinville. Let’s face it, anyone can buy a bottle of wine at the nearest market, but to enjoy premium wines in a beautiful setting with expert winemakers, paired foods, and fun, educational activities—that’s why you come to Woodinville. So when you come, you’ll want to experience Chateau Ste. Michelle.

One of the most rewarding advantages of being the oldest, largest winery in Woodinville and Washington is that you have over 50 years of experiences to draw on and share with visitors. And just as all that knowledge, experimentation and tradition inform the wines, they’ve also helped Chateau Ste. Michelle cultivate an indulgent menu of experiences and activities to surround them.

The first thing everyone experiences as they arrive at Ste. Michelle is the scenic, beautifully manicured grounds. Public and private tours and tastings are available daily, or visitors can simply stroll and picnic at their leisure. Once inside the spacious tasting room and wine shop, you can sample the daily Feature Flight, purchase a bottle, or simple relax with a glass or two.

But a tour and tasting are merely an introduction to everything else that’s going on here. There’s a daily food menu from their renowned culinary team to enjoy, event spaces and private salons for group functions and tastings, and summer brings a popular garden tour and world-class outdoor concert series.

Then there are all the delicious activities for enhancing your appreciation and knowledge of wine: “Artfully Paired” guides you through the ultimate food and wine experience; “Blend” allows you to become the winemaker, mixing and creating your own blend; “Sensory Sojourn” teaches you to recognize and appreciate the distinguishing characteristics in each glass. Specific tasting experiences are available to do a “deep dive” into aged wines, single vineyard and limited releases, Champagne and sparking wines, and more.Treat yourself to the Chateau Experience

With over 120 fine winemakers throughout Woodinville Wine Country, the options for relaxing with a great bottle are nearly endless. But for sheer wine appreciation and enjoyment, it’s hard to beat the full cellar of experiences to be had at Chateau Ste. Michelle.

 

[photo cred: Duval Images]

 

 

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The Nose Knows: Shelly’s Tips for Smelling Like a Pro

Written By: Shelly Fitzgerald, CS, CSW, WSET III

It takes quite a bit of practice in order to train our noses to differentiate even 100 of the thousands of aromas perceptible in wine. Add difficulty to the task by being able to put the smells we detect into words. The official term “olfaction” is a complex sense. It enables us to perceive scents through our nose directly (direct olfaction) or indirectly through our nose and mouth together (retronasal olfaction).

The sharpest of our five senses is smell, but over time, we’ve come to rely on it less and less. Familiar aromas are stored in our brain as memories. Where we grew up plays an enormous role in the multitude of smells that we’ve been exposed to. It’s that exposure to an environment of smells that has laid the foundation for our own rolodex of distinguishable smells. Eighty percent of our wine enjoyment comes from smell, and with practice it only gets better.

Here are some tips to get your nose back in shape and have you sniffing and smelling like a pro!

Smell – and smell often! Head to your local farmer’s market and take the opportunity to smell the seasonal fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Do the same at your local grocery store. Eventually, add in dried fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Not only is this fun but you’ll begin to appreciate the difference in aromatics between ultra-fresh, fresh, and dried.

When smelling your wine keep your mouth slightly open. This gives you a greater chance of picking up the most from what you’re smelling. Take a sip of your wine and hold it in your mouth. There are 5 distinguishable tastes (Salt, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, and Umami) that compliment your sense of smell. These tastes work in conjunction to enhance the overall experience.

One experiment is to plug your nose and taste your wine. Since 80% of what you detect comes from smell and just 20% from taste, you’ll notice that you’re unable to smell or taste very much. It’s just the same when we are stuffed up with a cold or allergies. Think of how hard it is to smell anything. Do you ever say “nothing tastes good” when you’re stuffy?

Taking on the task of “thoughtfully smelling” can be a bit overwhelming. When your nose is fresh you’ll grab on to smells quickly, but it will seem that your nose begins to dull and you’ll feel like you can no longer pick up any distinct smells. Sniff the back of your own hand and it should reset your nose and send you back on your way to smelling enjoyment.

Set yourself a time limit and like anything new break it into smaller components. Focus first on primary aromas. These are the aromas that you get from the grape varietal itself along with the influence of where the grapes were grown including the land, climate, sunshine, soil, and viticulture. Examples of fruit notes: lemon, grapefruit, apple, pear, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, cherry and example of floral notes are: rose, violet, acacia, honeysuckle.

Next, venture onto the secondary aromas. These come from winemaking and are the aromas from the pre-fermentation, fermentation, malolactic conversion, and oak influence. Examples are vanilla, cedar, mocha, butter, spice.The Nose Knows: Shelly’s Tips for Smelling Like a Pro

Lastly, set your sight on the tertiary aromas these take place when the wine has aged and the fruit has taken a back seat. Examples are mushroom, earth, spices, barnyard.

Keep in mind that wine writers have been doing this a long time. Their vocabulary has strengthened to match their noses. If your wine descriptors don’t line up with theirs, don’t fret. Wine is a subjective and incredibly complex beverage that takes time to master. Enjoy the journey!

[photo cred: Duval Images]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Woodinville Wine Country has Customized Culinary Options for Every Palette

Every year, Woodinville plays host to tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Not surprisingly, that means a lot of people with a lot of different food preferences. No worries – we have you covered! Here’s a brief rundown of Woodinville restaurants that cater to a wide variety of partial palettes.

Vivi Pizzeria– Gluten Free and Vegan options

Italian food and gluten free don’t often go hand in hand but Vivi Pizzeria has options for all their guests. They offer a gluten free crust so everyone can enjoy a piping hot slice of their pizza while relaxing on one of the most popular patios in Woodinville! For a vegan option, try the Spaghetti Porro made with leeks, roma tomatoes, garlic, white wine, olive oil and parmesan.

Heritage Restaurant – Vegan

Newcomer Heritage Restaurant and Bar has quickly made a name for itself as a comfortably casual, quality food locale. Chef Breanna Beike makes it a priority to ensure that all of her guests feel at home. People following a vegan diet will appreciate the marinated portobello mushrooms served with fennel sprouts, ancient grains, and grilled artichokes. Savory and delicious!

Village Wines – Vegetarian

Village Wines has been a mainstay in the Hollywood District and their consistent quality and extensive wine list are two reasons why the phrase “Let’s meet at Village!” is so often heard around town. Their extensive menu includes a vegetarian flatbread with a “magical” artichoke spread that many a carnivore has opted for as a dinner choice.

Purple Cafe – Keto/ Low Carb/ Paleo

The Purple Café is a popular destination for lunch or dinner (and brunch on the weekends) and for good reason – the food, atmosphere and service are all top end. For those looking to limit their carb intake but indulge in gastronomic delights, you’ll be spoiled for choice here. No doubt the bacon-wrapped meatloaf with roasted mushrooms will satisfy any low-carb meat lover!

Hollywood Tavern – Dairy Free

A little roadhouse in 1947, The Hollywood Tavern is now a Woodinville hotspot with tasty tavern food that a match for anyone’s palette. Even if you’re ditching dairy, you’ll have choices a-plenty at this historic site now known for its classic comfort food. Order up a plate of Brick Chicken with a side of their “never-to-be-forgotten” brussels sprouts and you’ll leave satisfied without a dairy care in the world!

Tandem Dinner & Wine Bar – Organic

Woodinville restaurants have the great fortune of sourcing items from local farms, many of which grow their food organically. Tandem Dinner and Wine Bar take full advantage of our local bounty and offer a dinner menu that would rival any big-city restaurant. Their local NW rack of lamb with fresh sides is a beautiful example of “local” and “farm fresh” at its best!

Woodinville Cut Shop – Carnivore

The new kid in the neighborhood – The Cut Shop – has hit the ground running and is grabbing the limelight for many a meat lover! Carnivores crave many of the choices cooked up by a chef with a butchery background. Narrowing the choice of menu items – which include a double cut pork chop and a ginormous 40-ounce ribeye – will be a tough task for die hard meat-eaters… but no doubt, you’re up for the task.

Woodinville Wine Country has Customized Culinary Options for Every Palette

Barking Frog – Pescitarian

The Barking Frog restaurant – part of the boutique Willows Lodge hotel – has long be regarded as the standard-bearer of fine dining in Woodinville Wine Country. It would be of little surprise to those following a pescetarian diet that this high-end, Pacific Northwest restaurant has fresh and varied seafood options including a signature dish that is coveted by many a repeat-diner: The Barking Frog Grand Marnier prawns.

 

Picnic Table – Raw

Tucked in amongst dozens of wine tasting rooms in the Artisan Hill area of the Warehouse District is a gem of a restaurant named The PicNic Table. This small, Mediterranean-style café has become the go-to place for wine aficionados seeking delicious culinary pairings. The seasonal burrata and heirloom tomato salad or the Mediterranean plate are perfect choices for guests guided by a raw diet. And don’t forget – you can order a full spread of fresh, local foods and take it to go in a handy picnic box!

[photo cred: Hollywood Tavern, Barking Frog, PicNic Table]

 

 

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A Beverage World Beyond Wine

They don’t call this wine country for nothing. With over 120 Woodinville wineries and tasting rooms, locals and visitors can go tasting here almost every weekend of the year and never run out of new labels to enjoy. But while all that sniffing and sipping has been going on, something else has happened here that’s making it a much richer country. Over the last decade or two, craft brewers, distillers and cideries have been setting up shop, brewing up batches, and creating a completely different world of flavors and vibes.

As anyone with a thirst to quench knows, a local beverage renaissance is sweeping the entire country. But it’s been going on here in Washington State since the ’70s and ’80s, and for good reason: The warm climate and abundant water on the east side of the Cascades produce some of the finest grapes, apples, hops and grain in the world. So it was only natural that a full menu of artisan beverages made from them would take root and blossom here. Visitors to Woodinville Wine Country are the lucky beneficiaries of that flavorful abundance.

But when you talk about “tasting” in Woodinville these days, you’d be remiss if you didn’t consider tipping back a local ale, spirit or cider. With at least five craft breweries, six distilleries and two cideries, this isn’t just wine country anymore. In any other community, this growing group of artisans would be a beverage country all its own, but sprinkled among a galaxy of wineries, it can sometimes get lost among all those reds and whites. “I don’t think we’re overlooked as much as we are outnumbered,” says Steve Acord, owner and head brewer of Dirty Bucket Brewing. “Woodinville has definitely made a name for itself with the wine industry, but it’s quickly gaining recognition from the alcohol industry as a whole.”

In the spirit world, that recognition rivals just about anything the winemakers have on the shelf. For Woodinville Whiskey Company, it’s come in the form of “Whiskey of the Year” honors at the American Distilling Institute Craft Spirits Judging Competition for their 2015-release Straight Bourbon Whiskey. A year later, their Straight Rye Whiskey was awarded the coveted Double Gold Medal, an honor bestowed on just ten of the 802 spirits judged. Perhaps an even greater and more humbling homage is the lineup of fans that camps out for days in front of the distillery in order to be the first to receive the latest limited-edition release.

Besides the alternative universe of award-winning flavors, Woodinville distilleries and breweries often offer more of a production floorshow than wineries can. “Coming to a distillery is a bit like experiencing the crush season every day,” observes Mark Nesheim, owner and distiller at J.P. Trodden Distillery. “Unlike the wineries, who have a real season of winemaking to observe, distilleries, breweries and cideries are producing product right in front of you almost every day of the year. It’s a different experience because often you can see the whole process. At our distillery, the still and all the fermenting equipment are right in the tasting room.”

Having a front-row seat for the production action is also a big part of a visit to most craft brewers, with mills, tuns, kettles and tanks making themselves right at home in the tasting room, or within view of it. But that’s where the similarities with a distillery—or any other beverage producer—end. Independent brewers are just a different beverage-making animal, with a more maverick, freewheeling attitude and atmosphere that make them and their creations a breed apart in wine country. “Craft beer is constantly changing and new recipes for different styles come out all the time, says Mark Ihrig of Sumerian Brewing. “It’s also a quicker process than wine or whiskey, so you can push the limits a little more with beer than with other beverages.”

Make no mistake, Woodinville craft brewers are dead serious about their suds; it’s just that they’re equally as serious about their fun. You’ll often find tap rooms filled with families, dogs, sports fans, big screens, and plenty of boisterous banter, because what would a great beer experience be without them? Food—from soft pretzels to tacos to pizza—is another delicious distinction from most wineries that brewers simply won’t live without, whether it comes from a rotating selection of food trucks (Triplehorn Brewing) or a wood-fired oven (20 Corners Brewing).

With so many outstanding Woodinville vintners, wine A Beverage World Beyond Wineis likely to be the big draw here for a long time to come. But keep your eye and your attitude open, and you’ll find plenty of delicious planets revolving around that sun. And as our beverage community grows, look for craft brewers, distillers and cideries to carve out a larger place at the tasting table. The flavors, colors and character they bring to wine enthusiasts and those who prefer a hoppy ale, rye whiskey or hard cider make wine country a richer experience for everyone. No matter what you’re thirsty for, you’ll find not just one, but a posse of Woodinville artisans making some of the best stuff you’ve ever tasted.

[photo cred: Duval Images]

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Fresh, Local Organic and Vegan Fare at Heritage Restaurant

Sunny, welcoming and right in the heart of wine country, both the staff and the delightfully bubbly owner of Heritage Restaurant + Bar greet guests with open arms. You can’t help smiling right back. Heritage offers modern American food cooked with care and using the highest quality seasonal ingredients. So seasonal and local that you can find Breanna on Saturday mornings at the local Woodinville Farmers Market choosing beautiful foods to take back to the restaurant. Woodinville residents Breanna and her husband Chris Brende, designed the restaurant (across from the Hollywood School House) to be a gathering place for all – somewhere where locals could hang and tourists feel right at home. And that’s exactly what it has already become. On any given day, you’ll find old friends catching up over lunch, families having dinner, celebrations, two-somes getting to know each other, and couples fresh from work (or working out). The private dining room, a rare Eastside commodity, is sought after.

The dinner menu is divided into sections: Shells & Shareables (the generous serving of tender Caramelized Sea Scallops is a popular starter), Salads (all four salads are delicious – the signature Wedge Salad is comfort food at its best), Meats, Seafare & Non-Meats (among a variety of entrees, the Flat Iron Steak and the Heritage Burger are equally yummy).

They also offer excellent vegetarian options and flexibility to accommodate vegan or gluten free. The “Farro Risotto” changes seasonally. This spring version featured english peas, spring onions, beet greens and mascarpone cheese with a summery variety of patty pan squash, braised baby fennel, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and escarole. For vegan dishes, try the cast iron fired marinated portobello mushroom; served with artichokes, tri-color quinoa, swiss chard and fennel sprouts.

Fresh, Local Organic and Vegan Fare at Heritage Restaurant

We sat down with Breanna Beike, Chef & Owner, for some Q&A on her favorite spots to eat and play around town.

  • What do you think about when you think of Seattle’s Eastside?

“Community. My husband and I lived in Ballard and there is community there, but we moved to Woodinville 2 years ago and now I feel like I know what community truly is.

The North Shore school district, local businesses, the partnership among small businesses is pretty legit in Woodinville. I am honored to be a part of it.”

  • When you go wine tasting in Woodinville, what are your “must” tasting rooms to check out?

I love Long Shadows and a’Maurice Cellars. I also enjoy sitting on the patio at Patterson Cellars and Gorman Winery in the Hollywood District. And the hidden gardens at and beautiful surroundings at JM Cellars should not be missed. A true (and literal) hidden gem.

  • Best breakfast or brunch spot in Bellevue/Kirkland and/or Woodinville?

“Maltby Café in Snohomish. Any of their scrambles, toasted homemade bread, strong coffee and cinnamon rolls are all amazing. And Heritage’s brunch is pretty great, too. J

  • Favorite place for date night?

“We live right down the street from Ristorante Italianissimo in Woodinville. The service is amazing, they remember you when you walk in and during happy hour you can get a $15 bottle of wine and have a great happy hour date. Another fabulous hidden gem of Woodinville.”

  • What is the best hidden gem that you wish more visitors to the Eastside knew about?

Roadside farm stands in Woodinville and Duvall that operate on the honor system. They are pay what you can or list suggested prices. They have beautiful produce and flowers. You can usually only find them on weekends, but it‘s worth driving by during the week to see if they are open, especially in the summer.

These stands are part of that sense of community here that I love so much. The trust of a “pay what you can” farm stand. You don’t get that in Seattle.”

  • The Eastside has changed in the last few years. What is one addition to the area that you are loving?

“The many new restaurants, especially in the Woodinville area. But we need more. There are so many wineries and breweries here that we need more places to eat. But Woodinville feel like a boomtown. Things are happening here and all I can say is: Yes!”

  • What are the coolest or most iconic places on the Eastside? What comes to mind first and why?

Chateau Ste Michelle, Molbak’s and Delille Cellars’ Carriage House. I think of these first when I think of Woodinville. They are legit.”

  • Where is the first place you take an out of towner that is visiting you?

Molbak’s Garden + Home. This place is gorgeous. You can shop, have a cup of coffee or iced tea and sit in their garden area.”

  • Favorite place to catch a live performance, book reading or new art installation/exhibit?

“Chateau Ste Michelle for their summer concerts and the amazing art they have all over the property. And the Woodinville Heritage Society for their museum and their self-guided tours that take you through the history of Woodinville.”

“We moved to Woodinville first before opening the restaurant. We wanted community, more acreage, and less traffic. Then when we found a place to open a restaurant, it was a no-brainer to live and work here.”

  • Where is your favorite local destination for a staycation?

“Sammamish staying in any VRBO that is lakefront. And Willows Lodge. It’s here in Woodinville, but feels like a world away.”

  • Do you live AND work on the Eastside? If not, tell us where you live if not on the Eastside?

 

[photo cred: Duval Images and William Munoz]

 

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Everything you need to know about the Auction of Washington Wines

When you think of an auction event what probably comes to mind is an action-packed evening gala where you and other elegantly dressed guests bid on amazing one-of-a-kind items and experiences; and the Auction of Washington Wines will deliver on that and so much more. Over the course of 3 days in August the Auction hosts multiple unique events tailored to a variety of interests from casual to formal and from intimate to lively, so there really is something for everyone. It’s no wonder that the organization has been around for 31 years and has raised over $41 million benefitting the local community, including Seattle Children’s Hospital, and continuing research to elevate and enhance the Washington wine industry.

Among these memorable events, one that’s not to be missed is the Winemaker Picnic and Barrel Auction. Hosted on the beautiful grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle winery guests have the opportunity to choose from over 100 wines, oftentimes being poured by the Washington winemakers themselves. And of course, with great wine comes great food and this year’s menu is no exception. The team of talented chefs at Tulalip Resort and Casino have developed an international menu, “Al Fresco International,” which features tasty savory and sweet bites from destinations around the world including Belize, Germany, Japan, Sweden and more. Also new this year, the Auction has added five wineries to their lineup, all led by female winemakers. We’ll drink to that! And to top it off, guests can try their luck at the picnic games and go home with special prizes, including an opportunity to win a Holland American Line cruise. You certainly won’t want to miss out on the all the fun and we hope to see you this there this Thursday, August 16th at 4pm.

Everything you need to know about the Auction of Washington Wines

If a more intimate setting and an incredible view is more your style, the Auction hosts a handful of exclusive winemaker dinners hosted at gorgeous, local private waterfront homes with handcrafted meals created and served by award-winning chefs paired with delectable Washington wines. These dinners allow guests to mix and mingle with both the chefs and winemakers while taking in breathtaking views. If a memorable food and wine experience is what you’re after, look no further. There are still a few tickets available to these winemaker dinners.

There are a lot of ways to enjoy the Auction of Washington Wines weekend and none of it would be possible without the help of over 250 volunteers working behind the scenes! It is truly incredible to experience the impact the Washington wine industry is making in our local community and certainly makes every sip even more enjoyable. To learn more about Auction of Washington wines and how you can get involved, visit their website.

 

 

 

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The Cut Shop: Welcome Woodinville’s Newest Neighborhood Restaurant and Lounge

You may have been wondering what this new place is that has taken over the old McCorry’s on the Slough. It only takes driving by on a busy Saturday night to know that you should stop in and see what all the buzz is about. A cut shop? What does that mean? Very intriguing…

While the space was completely gutted and re-done, Woodinville Cut Shop owners Mike Meckling, Gabe Johnson and Megan Tweed wanted to honor the rich history of the building which has been around since the 1930s. It has always been a local gathering spot and place of community and the trio intend to carry on that tradition. The vibe is inspired by their collective memories of the 1970s which you instantly feel when you walk into the building.

The space is very social in its set-up, taking you from cocktail bar to booths to long communal tables. Everything is tricked out in natural wood and vibrant orange. The dining room doubles as a dance floor and the lounge is a great place to relax and watch the game or socialize with friends. The clever décor and special touches make you feel like you are sitting in your living room in another era. Truly inspired, with no detail overlooked.

The Cut Shop brings a whole new take on American roadhouse with a traditional American-inspired menu updated for modern tastes. While open for just about three months, they have been listening to their customers and recently revamped the menu. They were sure to keep all the crowd favorites, and add some tasty new options. The cocktail menu was also updated and feature some of our favorite Woodinville wineries and breweries!

They are conveniently located at 12801 NE 175th Street and the parking is no problem with over 50 stalls. At first glance, the building itself doesn’t appear to have any windows, but the back of the restaurant has glass doors that open with nice flow to a spacious patio area with picnic tables and fire pit. Just off to the side, you enter a relaxed beer garden with a rock waterfall. The hip 70s vibe is carried throughout. Are you starting to feel a little nostalgic?

Let’s talk events.

Every Tuesday is Prime Rib and half price bottle of wine night. ALL BOTTLES!

Clear out the tables for Honky-tonk Thursdays. Both kinds of live music, Country and Western, every other Thursday night. The live music action starts at 8pm sharp. $5 cover charge. Come early for dinner and stay late!

Instead of your traditional Sunday, The Cut Shop offers a BBQ Brunch every Sunday at 11AM. Families can spend the entire day! Then, one Sunday of the month The Cut Shop pulls out all the stops with live music and “Chicken Shit Bingo”. Yes, you heard right. You’ll need to come meet Tonya Tucker, the star of Sunday Social Bingo. You won’t be disappointed!

The Cut Shop: Welcome Woodinville’s Newest Neighborhood Restaurant and Lounge

Be sure to check out Woodinville Cut Shop social media for future events and because, well, their social media is pretty rad. Windy the clown head, their vintage balloon machine from the 40s even has its own Instagram.

Visit them at woodinvillecutshop.com and be sure to book your private event or just reserve the lounge area for a large group.

So, what is a cut shop? Put away your cellphones, and let’s all remember all that pre-internet fun we used to have. Bring your family, friends, or simply come by for some grub after a day of wine tasting. We encourage you to find out.

Welcome, Woodinville Cut Shop! Thank you for supporting our community and we’ll see you soon for some good ol’ American fun!

[Photos: Daniel Zetterstrom]

 

 

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