Turning the Wine World Upsidedown in Cle Elum

Upsidedown Wines in Cle Elum, Washington

Cle Elum is not only a destination for those who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, it’s a fun spot for wine and food lovers. Especially now that Seth and Audrey Kitzke have opened the inviting Upsidedown Wine tasting room in the city’s charming downtown. Here’s a run-down on Cle Elum, an introduction to Seth and Audrey Kitzke of Upsidedown Wine, and some insider recommendations from the couple on what to see during a visit to the town.



Cle Elum is about thirty miles east of Snoqualmie Pass with a drive time of approximately an hour and a half from Seattle via I-90. It’s a picturesque evergreen locale on the upper Yakima River with a quaint main street. In my childhood, a day in Cle Elum was spent hunting for leaf fossils down by the river.

Upsidedown Wines sign in front of tasting room

Long before that in the 1920s and 1930s, according to HistoryLink, Cle Elum earned a reputation as a winter playground that attracted skiers and spectators with a huge ski jump.

Knowing that, it seems fitting that Seth Kitzke, a former semi-pro snowboarder, along with his wife, Audrey, chose the town to establish a second tasting room for the winery they own.

Bottles of wine on a table

About Seth and Audrey of Upsidedown Wine

How did the former semi-pro snowboarder end up farming a vineyard and making wine? Seth grew up on his family’s farm, so he’s no stranger to agriculture. Not only that, but the Kitzke family planted a vineyard in 2000 resulting in the first vintage of Kitzke Cellars wine in 2005. Seth eventually took over winemaking duties.

Seth and Audrey had a college courtship that led to marriage. Then, in 2014 the couple launched their own winery and named it Upsidedown Wine, a hint to Seth’s snowboarding days. After living in Seattle, they gave up city life to take over the family vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA.

Seth and Audrey of Upsidedown wine

According to Seth, “Every vineyard we work with for Upsidedown is herbicide free and either organic certified or well on its way towards that certification.” In fact, the couple’s admirable efforts earned them a listing in the Slow Wine Guide USA, a resource that highlights eco-friendly wineries. Seth’s thoughtful winemaking involves a number of captivating varieties along with techniques including carbonic maceration. The result is an exciting array of lively wines including a lush Roussanne, a vibrant Grenache and a gloriously spicy Mourvèdre. Plus, a portion of wine sales are donated to various non-profits.

Tasting room in Cle Elum, Washington

At the family friendly tasting room, a rustic bare brick wall serves as a backdrop to the tasting bar, a contrast to colorful artwork by Kathleen Woodward that’s on display. It’s the perfect place for a moment of respite. Guests can linger over a tasting of five wines for $20 or select from rotating pours and order a charcuterie plate or other light bites. A special list of aged library wines is available for club members.

Eating in and Exploring Cle Elum

Conveniently located next to the tasting room, the 509 Bakery is highly recommended. Also highly favored is the Orchard Restaurant. Unfortunately, those businesses weren’t open on the Tuesday I visited. However, lunch at Taps and Tacos – where Upsidedown Wine happens to be served on tap – was quite satisfying.

Cle Elum Taps & Tapas
Plates of tacos at Taps and Tapas

If you have yet to lay eyes on a meat vending machine, then be sure to walk down the street to Owen’s Meats for this must-see novelty!

Audrey was kind enough to divulge some of her favorite spots to grab a bite. In addition to the aforementioned Orchard, Taps & Tapas and 509 Bakery she recommends Stellas and Swiftfired Pizza Co. at DruBru. She suggests, “Grab a beer while you’re there! Speaking of beer, we love Taneum Creek Brewing and we carry their beer at our tasting room. Definitely check their tap room out!”

Seating in Upsidedown wine in Cle Elum

As for shopping, she reveals, “Cle Elum has a great little downtown from vintage shopping at Tuckaway Antique Mall to more contemporary stores like Black Sheep and Cavalini and Co. We have a great outdoor shop that has any piece of recreation gear available, Basecamp Outfitters.”

When it comes to recreational activities, Audrey’s recommendations include snowboarding at Snoqualmie Pass or Mission Ridge, exploring Lake Cle Elum, or hiking and mountain biking during the summertime.

With all those options, plan a visit for an hour or a weekend and remember, if you want to see Cle Elum from a new perspective look at it from Upsidedown.

Posted in
Nancy Croisier Author at Explore Washington State

Nancy Croisier

Nancy Croisier, a Seattle native, is a graduate of the Northwest Wine Academy, a Certified Specialist of Wine, and founder of VinoSocial. She is on a mission to get every winery on social media and a bottle of wine on every dinner table. Read more of Nancy’s writing in the Slow Wine Guide USA, Washington Tasting Room Magazine and on the VinoSocial.wine site. For more wine and food discoveries, follow @VinoSocialNancy on Instagram.


  1. A Weekend In Cle Elum - Explore Washington State on March 20, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    […] Cle Elum is a small town with a lot of charm just 90 min from Seattle. It’s not just a pit stop while driving along I-90, but a lovely place worth a weekend stay, and has the friendliest locals. Downtown Cle Elum has a lot of great new businesses! Also, the downtown area has so many cool, colorful murals; the street artists did a great job brightening up the town. […]

  2. […] 125 years. Five generations of Owens have built the business into what it is today by expanding the Cle Elum location, adding meat machines across the state and preparing to open a second […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.