During the last two and a half years, has any place in Seattle been more isolated than West Seattle? After all, everyone referred to it as “the island” when the West Seattle Bridge closed for repairs. Thankfully, the recent reopening of the bridge means long detours are no more. That calls for a toast! So, here’s a plan for how to spend a day wine tasting in West Seattle.
For wine lovers and foodies, West Seattle makes a great outing. Four locally owned boutique wineries inhabit tasting rooms within a walkable mile-and-a-half stretch along California Avenue Southwest. Each one has a distinct personality, and all are welcoming to wine newbies and aficionados. Viscon Cellars and Pine Lake Cellars are at the south, Open Road Winery at the north, and Darby Cellars midway at the Junction.
The walk is dotted with enticing coffee shops and eateries as well as a treasure trove of vintage and consignment shops to explore. Go on a Sunday and linger among the stalls at the year-round West Seattle Farmers Market.
Pine Lake Cellars
A visit to this charming tasting room is like hanging out at a friend’s home. Truly. Neighborhood locals Chantalle and Robert McCall have transformed a Craftsman abode into an incredibly inviting tasting stop with a number of quaint indoor and outdoor seating options. Inside, sparkling light fixtures and velvet chairs create a luxe feel. Fire pits adorn outdoor spaces, making Pine Lake Cellars a lovely place to taste and gather with friends even as the weather cools.
Wines are available to sample as a tasting flight of five selections — served in small numbered carafes delivered to the table in a basket. This allows tasters to sip and sample at their own pace. Wines range from Sauvignon Blanc to a complex red blend called Tendrils. This classy juice is on par with the ambiance of the venue. A menu of light bites is also available.
Located at 5405 California Avenue Southwest, Seattle, WA 98136.
A few blocks south of Pine Lake Cellars in a can’t-miss, saffron-hued structure resides the family-owned Viscon Cellars tasting room, art gallery, and cozy event rental space. When tasting here, chances are you’ll get to meet Ben Viscon, the owner himself. Although Ben has been making wine since 2004, his friendly demeanor makes chatting about wine unintimidating for the uninitiated. The locale is typically open two days a week and during the monthly West Seattle Art Walk, so be sure to check hours when planning a visit.
Wines range from Chardonnay aged in stainless steel tanks to a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the highly acclaimed Red Mountain AVA.
Located at 5910 California Avenue Southwest, Suite B, Seattle, WA 98136.
Next door to Easy Street Records at the West Seattle Junction — arguably the heartbeat of the neighborhood — chill out in the tasting room for Darby Cellars. Since establishing his winery in 2005, winemaker Darby English has developed a reputation for crafting wines with swagger and intensity. Notably, he continues to craft crazy good, affordable reds such as the $20 Purple Haze. For those who wish to be kind to the environment, find seasonal selections available on tap to take home by the growler. Earlier this year, a wildly fun orange Roussanne was on offer.
Located at 4306 Southwest Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98116.
Welcome Road Winery
This casual pet-friendly spot that features Bordeaux-inspired wines is beloved by the neighborhood and makes it tempting to move into one of the surrounding apartments or condos. Pull up a chair on the patio and watch the locals go by while sipping on a delightful wine tasting of five pours (or wine by the glass). Make a reservation in advance and pre-order a cheese and cracker box for a bite to eat.
If you’re seeking out something beyond Cabernet Sauvignon, satisfy your craving with the Malbec and Petit Verdot here. This boutique winery crafts just 1,000 cases a year, so when you find something you like get it while you can!
Located at 3804 California Avenue Southwest, Seattle, WA 98116.
Where the Winemakers Go
Ben of Viscon Cellars notes that California Avenue is pretty much the hub for many of the merchants, restaurants, and bars/wineries that he frequents. Ben offers this list of recommendations beyond those already mentioned:
- Phoenicia Restaurant
- Jak’s Steakhouse
- Easy Street Records
- MioPosto Pizzeria
- Pizzeria 22
He adds that it’s also worth taking a detour to Alki for these recommended restaurants:
- Harry’s Beach House
- La Rustica
Plan a Day Wine Tasting in West Seattle
Drink in all the unique experiences — and tempting wines — offered by these West Seattle tasting rooms and businesses. There is no better way to rediscover “the island.”
Reservations for one-hour seatings are accepted in advance by each tasting room, and highly recommended during peak times such as Saturday afternoons.
Wines are offered in tasting flights that enable guests to sample each of the wines on offer, or by the glass. Tasting fees, typically $15-20, vary by location and may be waived with a minimum purchase or included with membership. Bottle prices are mostly $20-25 for white wines and up to $38 for reds, which is quite reasonable for the quality.
Keep in mind that most of these tasting rooms are open beyond the weekends. In other words, this wine-tasting tour is a great way to liven up a drab week.
Happy wine tasting!
This makes me miss West Seattle! Thank you for sharing your tips, I will make sure to get there next time I’m in the area. (La Rústica is sublime!)
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