In the last little while, the Washington Wine community has been creeping westward, though some of them have always been here in Seattle, or points west. Well-established wineries like Andrew Will, Cadence and McCrea Cellars have been making wine on the west side for a long time. Newer wineries like Bartholomew Wine, Laurelhurst Cellars and Domanico Cellars have called Seattle home from the beginning.
Recently, there has been movement afoot as established Eastern Washington and Woodinville wineries are moving west, opening tasting room locations in Seattle. One such example is Vintner's Annex in Ballard.
Vintner's Annex best described as a secondary tasting room for four Woodinville wineries from the busy Warehouse District. Alta Cellars, Barrage Cellars, Cuillin Hills and Des Voigne Cellars have paired up to bring their Woodinville wines even closer to Seattle by coming...to Seattle. We decided to swing by on a Thursday night and check out the space.
Gwynne and I arrived at the hip looking Ballard spot, located across from arguably the world's greatest bakery, Cafe Besalu. We were greeted by Karen Wagner, one of the proprietors of the Vintners Annex and sister of Darren and Derek DesVoigne. The four wineries at Vintner’s Annex consist of mostly a family affair, Derek's Cuillin Hills, Darren's DesVoigne and Karen and her husband make the wine under the Alta Cellars label. Barrage Cellars proprietor and winemaker Kevin Correll is a close family friend (and in my opinion a very nice guy). In talking to Karen, I learned the Des Voigne family is from Ballard, so this site was a natural choice.
When friends Michelle and Andrew arrived, Michelle did the honors of selecting a bottle of the Des Voigne Montreaux. Michelle is a sucker for Syrah and this one is a 100% varietal blended from four vineyards: Stillwater Creek, Snipes Canyon Ranch, Meek and Wahluke Slope Vineyard. The wine, like all the Des Voigne I've had, is a hedonistic wine that's velvety smooth, like the jazz musicians that grace the labels.
Karen tasted me through the Alta Cellars releases as well, and I think the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was the best of the bunch. The wines made by Alta Cellars are seeing substantial amounts of oak, with the Cabernet spending 22 months in 80% new French oak. The wines is bounding with red fruit and substantial oak tannins. In addition to the 2007 Cabernet, Alta Cellars has released a 2008 Cabernet Franc and a red blend called Escape, also from 2008, which is a Bourdeaux style blend, with Cabernet, Merlot and a bit of Petit Verdot.
While it was quiet on Thursday night, Karen told us that the joint is jumping on the weekends, and there's always live music on Saturdays. As spoiled as I feel like we are in Seattle with Woodinville so close by, Vintners Annex makes it that much easier for the lazy amongst us. If I were to recommend two wines that you must try I'd say the killer Rhone style blend that is the Cuillin Hills "Shackled" and The Duke, a Zinfandel based blend by Des Voigne Cellars. Get to the Vintner's Annex, the wines are at retail by the bottle. The winemakers will take turns making appearances and bring a little bit of the Woodinville Warehouse District to Ballard.