This morning I took a hard-hat tour of Urban Enoteca, a 20,000 square-foot warehouse in SoDo that opens next month for business. Wineries will staff individual tasting bars where you can sample their wines and customize flights—you could try all the cabernet sauvignons, for example, or stick to a particular winery. Whatever you want—you pay at a concierge desk as you enter, they hand you a “library card” that tracks your purchases.
The tasting center is big enough for 15 wineries, but it will open with these: Five Star Cellars, Cave B, Côte Bonneville, Fielding Hills, Fidelitas, Kiona Vineyards, and McCrea Cellars. General manager Sheri Spurgeon says Urban Enoteca will eventually host up to 12 wineries, the other three spaces will be reserved for guests pours.
Terry Thompson, the man in charge, says he disqualified any winery that already had a tasting room in Western Washington. He also wanted the wineries to represent different growing regions, winemaking styles, and varieties. “Many were called, few were chosen,” he told me. The big idea is to bring the Eastern Washington wine experience to the city, and to work with the wineries to offer classes, food events, and winemaker dinners. The first dinner, on December 11, will feature wines from Côte Bonneville in Yakima.
Chef Jason Wilson Events, the catering business from the chef/owner at Crush, will make snacks and small plates to go with the wine. Wilson will also be the inhouse caterer for private events at Urban Enoteca, which will be held in any of three spaces. There’s the blanc de blanc room which, it shouldn’t surprise you, has a white-on-white color scheme; it seats 25. The barrel room—with a rounded ceiling made to look like an inverted barrel—seats 40. The Riddling room can accommodate 230 people seated. If that’s not big enough for your party, Puff Daddy, you can rent out all three spaces.
Decorwise, Thompson and his team are going for “urban, rustic comfort,” with lots of grainy woods and a stained concrete floor. There’s a huge water feature in the main corridor—the water rains down from the ceiling onto a rock sculpture. And by spring, Urban Enoteca will have a year-round, glassed-in garden with a fireplace.
Urban Enoteca’s address is 4130 First Avenue South. It will be open Tuesday through Sunday starting in November.