Seattle’s Structure Cellars will be opening a satellite tasting room in Tacoma. The tasting room is slated to open this fall.
“The idea was to open something that we could still manage without having to move,” says Brian Grasso, owner and winemaker at Structure. “We also wanted to go into a market that is super, super dry with wine.”
The tasting room will be located in the Theatre District at South 7th and St. Helens Ave, across the street from The Mix. It will be a small space, approximately 920 square feet.
“It was more the location that jumped out at us than anything,” Grasso says. “We really liked that it’s a spot with good foot traffic.”
The tasting room will offer wine by the glass as well as flights. There will also be light bites available.
“We are flexible in how we operate as a tasting room or a wine bar,” Grasso says. “We’ll let that location dictate to us how we run it.”
Grasso, who had an extended career in the restaurant industry before focusing on wine, says the goal will be to have a place that people want to come and hang out. His wife and co-owner, Brandee Slosar, is doing the design.
Structure Cellars started out in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 2011 and then moved its production facility and tasting room to SODO Urbanworks in 2014. Since then, the area has become one of the main branch-off points from Woodinville.
SODO Urbanworks is currently home to over half a dozen wineries and tasting rooms, including Rôtie Cellars, Sleight of Hand, Cairdeas, and Latta. It is also home to Love Beats Pagne, a Champagne bar Grasso and Slosar started, and Nine Pies Pizzeria, a companion piece to the Nine Hats tasting room also in the complex.
Grasso has been planning to open a second tasting room for some time, increasing production several years ago to accommodate the expansion. He intends to vary what wines are offered at the Seattle and Tacoma tasting rooms.
Structure expanding south to Tacoma is part of a broader trend taking place in western Washington. In the last ten years, though more in earnest in the last five, wineries and tasting rooms have been expanding beyond Woodinville.
The Maltby wineries are one example. Seattle too has seen an increase. Darby opened a tasting room in West Seattle in 2020. Locus Wines, Browne Family, and others are in Pioneer Square. EFESTE is one of a number of wineries in SoDo.
More recently, wineries have also begun exploring options along the Interstate-5 corridor north of Seattle. Dusted Valley opened a tasting room in Edmonds in 2021. Virtue Cellars, whose production takes place in Shoreline, will be opening a tasting room in Edmonds later this month.
Tacoma though, as Grasso notes, has been more of a slow burn in terms of wine. Despite a population of over 200,000 people with a metropolitan area population several times that, the city only has a small handful of wineries. Among them are Browne Family, which opened a tasting room there in 2020, and Dahlman Cellars. Grasso expects more wineries to open up in Tacoma in the coming years.
“Since we announced, I’ve heard rumors of three or four other wineries actively looking right now,” he says.
Image by Richard Duval.
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