There are quite a few urban wineries in Seattle, but the oldest is Wilridge Winery (1416 34th Ave.) in Madrona, which opened in 1988.
I remember when they opened; it was the same year I bought a house in the neighborhood. I was a server at the Space Needle at the time and a little bit into wine, but certainly not as much as now. I saw that big oak barrel out front of the winery and thought to myself, “That’s crazy, opening a winery in the city.”
Twenty five years later, I have since sold my Madrona house and moved to Capitol Hill, and the winery is still going strong; it is now the oldest continually operated winery in Seattle.
Originally, the wines were made in the cellar of the Madrona Bistro, which was a restaurant run by Beveridge’s wife, Lysle Wilhelmi. The French Oak barrels that were used in those early vintages still line the walls of the cellar.
In 1995, Madrona Bistro closed, and Paul and Lysle expanded the winery, lifting the building, making room for a 1,500-square-foot cellar and buying new equipment from Italy.
The couple produced their first vintage in the new facility in 1996. Paul, Lysle and their sons lived above the winery until 2003. After that, Paul’s parents moved in and stayed until their retirement in 2009.
In 2010, Soni Dave and Henri Schock moved in and opened Bottlehouse (www.bottlehouseseattle.com), a wine bar whose main focus is Washington wines. They, of course, feature wines of Wilridge both for tasting and purchase.
“We highlight a revolving menu of our favorite wines from the Pacific Northwest and around the
world. Our wine is available by the bottle, taste, glass or flight. Bottlehouse is also one of the first establishments in Seattle to offer wine on tap. We feature four rotating selections,
all of which are from the region. It’s an opportunity to pour (or pull) quality wine by
the glass, with little to no waste,” according to its website.
In 2007, Wilridge planted a vineyard in Naches Heights, near Yakima, and, in 2010, released its first vintage from the vineyard. There is a 100-year-old house on the property where it has a tasting room.
Paul picked the site for its soils and the fact that it is higher up in the Yakima Valley so not as much of a chance of freeze.
“The climate in the area is almost as hot as Red Mountain (one of the warmest vineyard areas in Washington), has a long frost-free season and consistently produces excellent, ripe fruit,” he wrote on the winery’s website.
The vineyard is an 85-acre parcel, of which 35 are plantable. Since grapes had never been planted there, an 8.5-acre test plot was planted with 20 different varietals. The vines and grapes they produce will be evaluated, and the ones that thrive will be more widely planted on the site.
Beveridge still purchases fruit from Red Mountain.
I remember tasting a Merlot from Wilridge back in the ‘90s that had this amazing black licorice thing going on.
Back in Seattle
The wines from Wilridge can be tasted and purchased at The Tasting Room in the heart of the Pike Place Market (1924 Post Alley, between Stewart and Virginia streets).
The Tasting Room is Washington state’s first cooperative tasting cellar. There are seven winemaker-owned, limited-production wineries involved, including Wilridge.
Whether you’re in Madrona at the production facility in the Bottlehouse or go on a stroll through the Pike Place Market or even a road trip to the vineyard, sample Wilridge’s wine. You are bound to find some delicious and interesting wines.
JEFFREY DORGAN, the Washington Wine Commission’s 2009 Sommelier of the Year, is the wine director at the Space Needle.
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