If you’ve wet your whistle in Seattle or ventured up to Woodinville for some wine tasting, but still want more liquid grapes, hop a ferry to lovely Bainbridge Island. The island, a mere 30 minute ferry ride from Seattle, is a charming, laid-back spot to spend a day. It really feels as if you’re a world away.
The ferry ride alone is a trip in itself offering beautiful views of the Seattle skyline.
For such a small place, the island offers a wide variety of activities including museums, parks, and of course shopping. There were even a couple of breweries on the island. But I was pleasantly surprised by the island’s wineries. There are several wineries within walking distance of the ferry terminal and a few more than can easily be reached by bike or car.
Island Vintners (Amelia Wynn & Fletcher Bay Wineries)
Part winery and part art gallery, this is the cozy home of Amelia Wynn Winery. The tasting room also serves the wines of Fletcher Bay Winery, so you get double the wine fun. [Note, the main Fletcher Bay winery is a few miles from the center of town and is not really within walking distance.]
Given its proximity to the ferry, Island Vintners is the perfect spot to chill if you’re headed back to Seattle and have a bit of time. Amelia Wynn focuses on Bordeaux, Rhone, and Northern Italian varieties all sourced from notable Washington vineyards, including the esteemed Red Mountain. The tasting room also offers up small nibbles and cheese and charcuterie plates. And I can’t say enough about the friendly service. Standout Wine: 2013 Giovanni Columbia Valley, which was a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Situated in a shopping strip on the island, this one is almost easy to miss. You can’t ask for better or more engaging service and while the setup inside can be a bit cramped, sitting outside on the charming patio area allows you to stretch out and do some people watching. The focus here is on red wines as five of the seven wines available were red, including Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc from Red Mountain. (Told you I am a fan). Not a problem here. Standout Wine: 2013 Eagle Harbor Red Mountain Cabernet Franc.
The ‘bike place’ as I’ve now dubbed it, as images of bikes and actual bikes make up the decor, was quite energetic and really a fun spot to hang out. Literally everyone was in a great mood. Bikes also appear on some wine labels. Apparently the bike theme stems from the fact that Eleven’s founder and winemaker is a self-professed bike racing fanatic. In fact, the name Eleven is a reference to a small cog in the rear cluster on a road bike. There are two locations to visit on the island including the tasting room in the heart of the shopping area that is walking distance from the ferry, as well as the main winery a few miles away.
While they produce some of the usual suspects, production is also focused on some unexpected varietals including Mourvèdre, Roussanne, and Petit Verdot. Standout Wine: 2014 La Primavera Rose.
While the Island Vintners, Eagle Harbor, and Eleven tasting rooms are all within walking distance of the ferry, a couple of others are a few miles away and would take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour to walk. But never fear, Bainbridge Island is perfect for biking and bike rentals are available near the ferry terminal. There’s also Uber and a few taxis, but you’re there to see the beauty of the island, right? And the good news is that these wineries (Bainbridge Vineyards, Rolling Bay Winery, and Fletcher Bay Winery) are in near proximity to each other, so once you bike out to the area, you aren’t too far from the next one.
Bainbridge Vineyards is unique amongst the other wineries on the island in that its production comes exclusively from fruit grown on the island. As the grapes are grown in Puget Sound, the varieties grown are expected cooler climate varieties such as Pinot Nor, Pinot Gris, and Muller-Thurgau in addition to a couple I wasn’t familiar with such as Seigerrebe and Madeleine Angevine (which originated in France’s Loire Valley). All of the vineyards are certified organic. Standout Wine: 2013 Madeleine Angevine.
So Rolling Bay Winery is the other Bainbridge Island winery that unfortunately The Corkscrew Concierge was unable to visit. Rolling Bay sources its fruit from the Snipes Mountain AVA, which is the second smallest AVA in WA and the wine geek in me really wanted to try out some of these wines. But alas, there are only so many places one can visit in a day. But if you’re at Bainbridge Vineyards, you have to pass it on the way there and back and it’s also not far from Fletcher Bay Winery (if you decide to forgo the tasting room at Island Vintners). If anyone checks it out before I make it back, drop me a line and give me your thoughts.
While not a winery per se, this tasting room located at 756 Winslow Way E, is an eclectic, no frills spot to purchase both local and International wines as well as to pick up some picnic wares. There’s also a bottle preservation system available with several choices of wine to order by the glass as well as a few wine flights available. I had a blast sipping on my wine and chatting it up with the owner about all things wine as The Husband shopped for cigars.
Don’t judge me. Yes, I had some beer too. Actually, The Husband had had his share of wine (gasp!) and wanted to drop in. Craft beer enthusiasts will love this chill spot that rotates sixteen beers on its taps. Whether you want to watch the game or play a game (I saw plenty of folks playing cards, backgammon, etc.) you’ll have plenty of choices here. Before you know it, time will just fly by and you’ll have had a couple of pints. They also have a selection of bottled beers, ciders, and wines available. It was definitely the perfect stop on the way back to the ferry. My only request is that they offer food (other than chips) to go with all that beer!
Until next time…