WOODINVILLE, Wash. - When you talk about Woodinville wine or, simply, Washington wine in general, the long-time “king of the mountain” has been Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.
But, now, more Eastern Washington wineries are coming over the mountains – the Cascades – and setting up tasting rooms in Woodinville. Over the past two years, some 15 Eastern Washington wineries have set up tasting rooms in Western Washington.
J. Bookwalter Winery is one of those transplants.
"A challenge was to expose our brand,” says Bookwalter’s Nick James. “ Because we're a decent-sized winery in Eastern Washington a lot of people know our name over there. To kind of come over here and have no one know who you are was kind of… it was kind of a shock. It's not an ego thing; it's just what we were used to."
The number of Eastern Washington winery tasting rooms in Woodinville is expected to grow, but that is a challenge, according to Woodinville Wine Country executive director Cynthia Daste.
"If you're a production winery, you have to have drainage and the waste water is a big issue here in Woodinville. And they need a lot of space to bring barrels in and to produce. Tasting rooms certainly don't need as much space but they need a good location."
Says James: "As far as climate goes, it doesn't really feel like wine country. It rains eight months out of the year. There are no vineyards.”
“But you like it?” James is asked.
“I like it here more than Eastern Washington, absolutely!” he answers, with a laugh.