Deep down 1st Ave S in Seattle’s largely industrial SODO area lies a hidden gem. As you approach 4130 1st Ave S from the north (be careful to turn left BEFORE the bridge, you’ll miss it!), you wouldn’t have the slightest idea of the beauty that sits within a boxy industrial looking building that has a chunk of its parking under a bridge. But then you walk up to a set of double doors that look slightly out of place, with wood that stands out amongst the drab surroundings. As you open the heavy doors and enter URBAN enoteca (@URBANenoteca), a sharp inhale followed by a “whoa” seems to be the most common reaction. Spread out before your eyes is a beautiful establishment offering some beautiful wines. This new space, which opened in late 2010, brings several well-known Washington wineries to the heart of the wine-buying market: Seattle. The concept is simple, when you arrive you receive your ‘Library Card’ (clever, huh?). As you visit each winery, they swipe your card for whatever you taste or any bottles you purchase. At the end of your visit, you check out at the front counter, where all the tastes and bottles are on one receipt for you. It’s a great way to keep from having to pay each winery separately, which can get confusing when you are bouncing around
In addition to the wine tasting space, URBAN enoteca also has a “Library Lounge” for grabbing a bite to eat. The facility also has several private event spaces, each with their own style: the Riddling Room, which is a large, open, and elegant space which can be used for weddings, corporate events or parties; the Barrel Room, a smaller space, but just as warm and inviting for dinner parties, meetings, or cocktail events; and (my personal favorite) the Blanc de Blanc Room, a completely white contemporary space, which can be used for private dinners, business meetings, or even as a bridal room.
On my most recent visit to URBAN enoteca, I took a new friend that happened to be visiting from out of state. Emily (@emilybratkovich) and I stopped in for what we thought would be a quick tasting visit. Little did we know we’d be drawn in by the relaxing atmosphere and delicious wine and end up spending all afternoon there! There are seven wineries that each have their own tasting space within the Library area, which has comfortable couches, chairs, tables, and a great fireplace to warm up next to. On this particular afternoon, we made it a goal to try at least one wine from each winery. For the sake of this post, I will group each winery’s wines together, but in reality we were jumping around and quite literally tasting our way around Washington!
Cave B Estate Winery’s (@CaveBWinery) main tasting room and winery facility is located near the Gorge overlooking the Columbia River in Central Washington. On our visit to URBAN enoteca, I first tried the 2009 Sagecliffe 100 un-oaked Chardonnay. This wine, from the Columbia Valley, has all the qualities I like in a Chardonnay, and lacks all of the qualities that I don’t like in a Chardonnay. It’s perfect! This a wine that will be great for spring, and would pair well with just about everything. I definitely took a bottle of this to go!
I also tried the 2008 Cabernet Franc. This is their first vintage of the Cabernet Franc varietal, and I must say, you’d think they’d been doing it for quite sometime. The nose was fantastic and the finish lingered with fruit and a hint of spice. Based off the success here, I’d say Cave B should continue with this varietal, nice work!
A fun fact I learned at our visit was that McCrea Cellars was Washington’s first winery entirely dedicated to Syrah and Rhône varietal wines. The winery is located about a half hour from Olympia, Washington State’s capital. My first taste from McCrea at this visit was their 2008 Picpoul, a varietal I had never tried before. The grapes from this are from the Yakima Valley, and McCrea employee Scott and his wife were the ones that actually brought the first Picpoul vines to Washington from California. This is only the 3rd Picpoul vintage in Washington and only ¾ of an acre of Picpoul is planted in the Boushey vineyard. The nose on this wine was so incredibly different I didn’t quite know what to think at first. But then I took a taste, and the acidity and finish almost reminded me of a Pinot Gris. It was definitely different, but a big hit with Emily. I think she may have gotten one of those to take back to the mid-west with her!
My other McCrea taste was the 2008 Grenache, which is 81% Grenache, 7% Syrah, 5% Counoise, 5% Cinsault, and 2% Mourvèdre. I loved the spice on the nose and on the finish. It had just the right amount and brings the fruit forward with it. A nice wine!
A relatively new winery (they released their first vintage in 2000), Fielding Hills, has their home in the Wenatchee Valley area of Central Washington. Our taste here was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot. This wine received 95 points from Wine Enthusiast and was editors choice in Top 100 Best Wines of the World. This is a very well-rounded Cab, with a little spice and great structure. This is a low production wine, try it before it’s too late!
Walla Walla’s Five Star Cellars has made a name for itself producing some very well-known red wines. In just taking a quick look at their Acolades page, you’ll see 90+ points across the board. My taste with Five Star at this visit was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This Walla Walla mixed vineyard wine is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. The entire wine is very well balanced and the finish lingers very pleasantly. I love that they sell this by the 375ml size, I was able to get a little bottle that will be perfect for just me (this is me being stingy with my wine..)!
Kiona Vineyards and Winery (@KionaWine) has the privilege of being the only URBAN enoteca winery that I had previously visited at their main winery. Kiona is based over on Red Mountain near the Tri-Cities, and has quite an extensive selection of varietals. Because a previous vintage was a favorite, I went with the 2008 Big Kiona Zinfandel. This has a lot of berry flavors up front and was as good as I remember it! Kiona had their fabulous Lemberger for sale here (one of the few places that has it in Seattle I believe), but they weren’t pouring it to taste the day of our visit, darn!
Another winery that consistently puts out good wine is Fidelitas (@FidelitasWines), which is based over in Eastern Washington on Red Mountain. I have really enjoyed several of their wines in the past, so today I tried something new, the 2007 Optu Red from the Columbia Valley. This classic Bordeaux blend is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 9% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot. This also brought together grapes from several well-known vineyards as well. A big flavored wine, this one would pair well with a nice roasted red pepper pasta of sorts.
Yakima Valley’s Côte Bonneville(@cotebonneville) was founded in 2001 and puts out some award winning wines from their own DuBrul Vineyard. At our visit, we went with the 2006 Carriage House, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This was a beautiful wine with very complex flavors in the finish. It was definitely one that I would drink again.
As you can see, with its seven wineries (and space for more), URBAN enoteca really does have a wine for every taste. I can’t wait to attend an event in one of their private event rooms, or to grab something to eat in the Library Lounge. I wasn’t kidding when I said this place can be difficult to find. Look for the sandwich board on the left (if you’re coming from the north), make a left, then a quick right to enter the parking area. Keep an eye out for those “out of place” beautiful wood doors and you’re there!