The brand new restaurant, Book Bindery, may be hard to find in its nondescript warehouse space, but once found and entered, we realized why they had chosen the space. Huge windows allow gazing of the moonlit waterfront between Lower Queen Anne and Fremont. After a fabulous dinner, our server offered my husband and me a late night tour of the connected winery. We didn’t refuse.
We were lead through the climate controlled aging room, stacked with gorgeous new oak barrels filled with seventeen different types of wine. The combination of oak and grapes smelled of heaven. We were introduced to “Mike”, a guy in fleece and warm hat on a stool behind the counter. Turns out Mike is Mike Almquist, owner and wine maker of Almquist Family Vintners and also of Book Bindery. He offered us samples of his wines. I asked to try the Petit Syrah. “Liquid blackberry pie,” he said.
“No wonder I like Petit Syrah,” I said.
And he was right. Smooth and jammy and so easy to drink.
We tried several wines, all of them excellent, but his description of the Mourvedre as “crazy, hazelnut biscotti with a dash of white pepper” was the most unusual of them. His description was spot on, I especially enjoyed the pepper.
He opened the bins full of fermenting crushed grapes. “Take a sniff,” he said.
“And now smell this one.”
Two different yeasts created two very different aromas, and eventually, different wines.
He showed us the barrels where the wine ages.
They’re also distilling spirits. The copper stills were as pleasing as the spirits themselves.
Earl Grey Vodka, Shiso Vodka, Grappa, Ouzo, and Chocolate Hazelnut Vodka were a few of the one hundred laboratory-like bottles lining the shelves. They were phenomenal. And how cool is Earl Grey or Shiso Vodka?
Mike showed us the stainless steel bottling machine.
And the labeling machine.
And then we got to put our noses to work for some more science experimenting. Labeled plastic cups with samples of various wines-in-the-making covered a couple of stainless steel barrels. Each was the result of a different try for the perfect wine.
The cups in the foreground are the “no’s”, the few in the background the “yes’s”, proof it’s work to find the right combination. We’re not experts but it was easy to detect the “Mmm” from the “Ick”.
If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in for a tour and sampling. I’d never heard of a winery in the city, but it makes perfect sense. Mike brings in the best grapes from Washington farmers to create the best wines. Have you had a desire to make your own wine? Almquist Family Vintners would love to guide you through the process. Make your own special blend and bottle it for your friends!
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