“We’ve done really good things in existing buildings with a kind of down and dirty, garage feel,” says Mark Ryan founder Mark McNeilly. “I don’t think it’s going to feel much different than that, but we’re going to try to elevate the kind of ‘Mark Ryan 2.0’ experience.”
McNeilly says this will involve focusing more on education as well as the winery’s history. Mark Ryan’s current space in Woodinville’s nearby Hollywood District will subsequently become a tasting room for its Board Track Racer wines.
“We have a strong commitment to that Hollywood Schoolhouse area, so we’re going to keep our existing space,” McNeilly says. “But we just needed more physical space for the Mark Ryan label, and we needed more parking.”
Indeed, as the Hollywood District has flourished since its redevelopment over a decade ago, parking at many of the tasting rooms has become increasingly hard to come by. Long Shadows also currently has a tasting room in this area, which it will give up when it moves. Dane Narbaitz, president and partner at Long Shadows, agrees the new facility’s abundant parking was part of the appeal.
“We’ve got club members that show up and want to pick up wines, but of course they want to come in and taste the new releases as well,” Narbaitz says. “They’ll call and say ‘I can’t find parking within half a mile of here. Can you just bring my wines out and put them in my trunk?’ That’s really sad to miss out on those opportunities.”
The new building was originally designed for Teatro Zinzanni, a long-running dinner circus theater. However, when Teatro abandoned plans to occupy the space last year due to the pandemic, the facility owners decided to turn it into tasting rooms. The building will use the original structural plans, but the space will now be divided between four wineries.
“The structure itself is really cool,” says Narbaitz. “It’s kind of got a modern industrial feel to it. Very upscale, but it’s got steel beams and exposed concrete and wood finishes.”
Each winery is designing its own space, which will include outdoor patios and upstairs decks. The Long Shadows tasting room will also have private rooms as well as club rooms that can be combined for larger groups.
“We’ll have the ability to offer something a little more special, a little more memorable,” Narbaitz says. In addition to bountiful parking, for wineries already in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area, the new site will offer considerably more space.
“We’d kind of outgrown our [current] space a few years ago honestly,” says Fidélitas managing director Will Hoppes. He says the winery’s new tasting room will have at least five times more seating than its existing Hollywood space, making for a more relaxed visitor experience.
In addition to more parking and space, the exceptionally high quality of the other producers in the area only adds to the appeal, for the wineries and consumers alike. DeLille Cellars opened a stunning facility in this area in late 2019. Sparkman Cellars followed suit in 2020. It will be a formidable half dozen tasting rooms.
“We’re just getting on people’s radar, so this is a tremendous opportunity for us,” says owner and winemaker Andrew Latta. Latta will keep its current production facility and tasting room in Seattle’s SoDo Urbanworks.
“Our current space is very utilitarian and was designed as such to be multi-purpose,” Latta says. “[Woodinville] is going to be a dedicated tasting space, so we can do things that are a little more refined.”
Construction on the new building is already underway, with completion slated for summer 2022. However, in addition to possible construction and permitting delays, supply chain issues might also have their say.
“We still have to order furniture, so that’s going to take a good eight months to get here,” McNeilly says wryly.
In addition to the four new tasting rooms, DeLille, and Sparkman, the area also offers top notch food. The Lounge at DeLille Cellars is on-site, and Barking Frog restaurant is within a (very) short walk, with Willows Lodge providing a place to stay. Altogether, it guarantees an experience few in the area can match.
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