Every time he begins a new handcrafted batch, winemaker Philip Coates strives to bring out the elemental flavors of his Washington-grown grapes. A limited production schedule lets Philip and his team spend more time on each varietal, de-stemming grapes by hand before fermenting batches with native yeasts and aging them in french oak barrels. Next, they fill, cork, and wax each bottle by hand before applying labels designed by local artists.
Though his repertoire has grown since 21 Cellars’ inception in 2003, Philip’s specialty remains bordeaux varietals, including a 2009 malbec and the 2006 Pont 21 cabernet sauvignon, which _Seattle _ magazine deemed Washington’s top new wine of 2011. Alongside wine by the bottle, staffers pour samples of current wines at weekly tastings at Anthem Coffee and the 21 Cellars’ own tasting room—a cozy grotto lined with oak barrels.
Voted Best Tasting Room in the West by Sunset magazine, The Tasting Room works hard to dazzle palates both rookie and oenophile with the best Washington wines, as well as with hard-to-find vintages, limited editions, and artisan varietals. Tastes typically range between $2 and $6 an ounce, with full glasses starting at $4, and showcase pours from Wilridge Winery, Camaraderie Cellars, and other local purveyors. Indecisive imbibers, meanwhile, can take the stress out of decision-making by choosing a wine flight ($5–$15), a simpler and less terrifying alternative to the wine skydive.
Since coming under new ownership in early 2011, Vinum Coffee & Wine Lounge has injected its menu of sandwiches, burgers, and pub fare with shots sparkling wines, smooth espresso drinks, and craft beers. In the kitchen, chefs shuffle together hot and cold sandwiches, keeping things simple with french bread pizza or tomato and brie or recreating Old World flavors with the monte cristo or chicken carbonara from ingredients that include chicken, roasted tomatoes, and a plethora of cheeses. Burgers and hot dogs—having evolved from the same common ancestors as sandwiches—also populate the menu, arriving topped with chili, avocado, grilled mushrooms, and bacon.
To wash down bites, Vinum's bartenders pour craft brews that fall on all points of the taste spectrum, from the light wheat notes of the Haywire Hefeweizen to the moody malts of the Storm King stout. The full bar serves up a wide selection of liquors, a well as wines, such as Massimo Argentina malbec and Maryhill Washington riesling that tint balloon glasses with red and gold hues. Bubbly beverages include sparkling mimosas to soothe nerves after a long week of ogling car washes.
At The Grape Adventure, a wine bar and restaurant that was recognized by the Washington State Wine Commission as a Grand Award winner in 2010, the menu of inventive tapas and upscale American cuisine teams up with a sprawling list of imported and domestic wines to sate hunger and thirst. The tapas-style avocado-hummus plate serves as a pool in which pita chips and tomatoes play ($8.95) and the steak bruschetta drapes seasoned steak and tomato salad over a warmly toasted baguette augmented by a gorgonzola spread ($9.95).
At The Scotch and Vine, owners David and Jill Pritchard blend upscale, artisan American cuisine, fine wines and scotches, and local, seasonal cuisine. The staff pours libations from more than 210 single malts, blends, bourbons, and ryes, as well as from a wine list that earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. With that deep selection to work from, friendly, knowledgeable tenders help diners pair their dinners with the ideal wine, craft beer, or whiskey. In the kitchen, meanwhile, expert chefs sizzle hearty elk burgers, juicy sirloin steaks, tender seared chicken, and roasted beet salads. This cuisine helped Scotch and Vine earn a spot on King5 Best of Western Washington's 2013 list of the area's five Best New American restaurants.
The strains of Spanish guitar and live blues bands form a classy soundtrack to wine tastings or seminars on Scotch-crafting, while plates of fine cheese from regional farms complement the flavors of smoky spirits, frosty brews, and rich red wine. The bistro's cushy leather booths, accents, and soft lighting evoke the image of a grandfather's cozy study or a precocious 6-year old’s tree fort.
The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.