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By the bottle or by the glass, Revolution Wine now open on E Pike


Revolution owners Mark and Carmen Brown. (Image: CHS)

With so much beer and coffee news over the past year, Capitol Hill wine lovers may have been feeling a little left out. Demand, it seems, remains strong as the owners of Revolution Wine discovered during their packed opening over the weekend at Belmont and Pike.

Opening Capitol Hill’s newest wine shop and wine bar was a decade in the making for owner Mark Brown, who first drew up the business plan in 2005. Several years working for Xbox’s marketing team put the dream on hold until last year when Brown and his wife, Carmen, secured the former home of The Feed Bag pet shop.

The Feed Bag lives on, by the way, in a new mobile format.

IMG_4677In keeping with couple’s vision for an unpretentious wine shop, most bottles fall in the $20-$30 range, though some go up to $50 — a slight deviation from their original $30 cap concept. “It just felt like it was an artificial governor,” Brown told CHS while juggling customers and wine shipments inside his new business.

Revolution currently carries 150 wines, which Brown intends to ramp up to 350. Smaller northwest labels are strongly represented along side California and European bottles. Brown will be holding tastings at 5 PM on Thursdays and Saturday tastings will frequently be lead by winemakers themselves.

(Image: Revolution Wine)

(Image: Revolution Wine)

Along with wine by-the-glass, the bar has a small but surprisingly robust cheese and charcuterie menu. There is a $20 corkage fee for any bottle in the shop. Chilled bottles of white wine will be available after new refrigerators are installed next week.

Patrons of the former Feed Bag shop will hardly recognize the revamped space. Brown pulled up several layers of flooring to expose the building’s original hardwood floors and stripped away 20-years of wall hangings to reveal a massive skylight.

A comic book style mural adds a big splash of color to the otherwise clean and simple store. Couches and chairs in the wine bar will give you a great view of E Pike through the shop’s corner windows.

The block was once home to another bottle shop — Pike Street Beer and Wine — which shuttered amid some shuffling on the block back when Sun Liquor moved in and The Feed Bag expanded. The Hill lost a wine shop last year as Boylston store Vino Verite pulled out and moved to Columbia City. Approaching its 30th year of wine business, EVS carries on the tradition on top of the Hill on 15th Ave E. Meanwhile, Bar Ferd’nand — both Lower and Upper in its larger, wood-fired oven-possessing Chophouse Row home, also keeps Capitol Hill’s wine game strong.

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11 thoughts on “By the bottle or by the glass, Revolution Wine now open on E Pike

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t understand the $20 corkage fee for an in-store bottle at a WINE SHOP. Is this a consequence of taxes they have to pay on to-go vs. in-store sales or something?

    It just seems like such a huge disincentive to hang out at the shop and share a bottle (or two) with friends. I get a token corkage fee of $1-$5, but $20? For the price point the article mentions, that’s basically another bottle worth of corkage.

    Am I crazy in thinking it would be great to be able to drink wine by the bottle outside of my house for less than a 100% markup over retail?

  2. I love the idea that we’re getting another wine shop, and I hope it succeeds because we’ve lost the other two in this part of the hill in the last couple years (RIP Vino Verite and the other short lived place on Pine).

    I hope they stick to winemaker tastings and bring in producers we don’t see on grocery store shelves. That was one of the best things about Vino Verite. I loved the frequent tastings they did with winemakers and sellers.

    Two things I see that are problematic, at least from mention in this article:

    $20 corkage to enjoy a bottle of wine in house that you just purchased? Are you kidding me? $5, tops. You sell wine, you’ve already made your money and mark-up on the bottle sale. $20 is restaurant corkage, not wine shop corkage.

    $20-$30 being the median price for a bottle of wine is shooting a bit high. Here’s the thing, I love wine, I buy wine, I drink wine, a lot of wine. But really outside of a restaurant, $20-$30 a bottle for me is special occasion wine. Most of what I buy is in the $13-$22 range, for everyday drinking. So if they don’t have a good selection of those options, then I’m not buying, at least not regularly.

    • I’ll bite. So the business is supposed to host your for a wine party providing glasses and service for the same price for which it sells a bottle of wine? As Bryan pointed out to me, there’s a premium charged for wine by the glass for a reason. Nobody complains about that. Or fewer do :) Same thing is happening with the bottle.

      • It’s the $20 fee that’s outrageous, Like others have said, a corkage fee at a wine store of $5 is more reasonable.

        Canlis…yes CANLIS…charges a $10 corkage fee.

        For a shop aspiring to be “unpretentious” the $20 fee sure is pretentious.

      • It seems that you overlooked the part where corkage most likely includes service, glasses, etc. The store kind of acts like a host.

    • It’s misleading to quote Canlis corkage fee because Canlis is SUBSTANTIALLY lower than anyone else in the industry. And you can’t access the corkage policy if they actually carry the wine you want to bring in. Most restaurants in Seattle have corkage fees between 15-25 dollars with $15 being somewhat less common.

  3. I’ll bite too. $30 (for a bottle of wine) + $20 (corkage) = 5 big glasses of wine at $10 each. I dare you to find a glass pour list in any restaurant in Seattle where you can find a $30 bottle a wine served at $10 a glass. Wine by the glass in restaurants that cost $10 a glass come from $6-8 bottles of wine, not $30 bottles of wine.

    tl,dr: This place is a great deal for a glass of wine on Capitol Hill.

    • Great point. Seems like from a marketing perspective it might be easier to just have two prices for everything. Dine-In/Dine-Out. Similar to how Lion Head has reduced prices for their carry out menu. That way it just seems like the price instead of like a nickel and dime add-on.

  4. Nick – a large pour is 250ml which means three pours, a medium means about four pours in a bottle

    After tax/tip you’re looking at $20/glass or $15/glass to sit around and drink in a wine shop with comic book drawings on the walls.

  5. I want to jump in and be open about what we are trying to do at Revolution Wine. As both a wine store and a wine bar, we have two separate businesses with distinct cost structures and competitors. Our wine store competes with QFC, Total Wine and other Wine Stores on the Hill and we price our wines quite favorably with QFC and are consistently less expensive than other wine stores. And the two bottles I am aware of that are in Costco, we are priced only $1 more. Our wine bar has a very different cost structure, as several readers pointed out, the bar has significantly more operating costs: linen service, server salaries, leasing and operating dishwashers and wine refrigerators etc. For simplicity sake, we base our wine pricing in the bar on retail price plus corkage, as does Chuck’s Hop Shop. And we have listened and lowered our corkage to $15. Restaurants price wine bottles between 2 and 3 times retail price. We believe that our $15 corkage, while seeming expensive at first glance, nets out to an on-premise wine price less than any other restaurant or wine bar in Seattle. For example, two or our popular bottles are Gorman Zachary’s Ladder, with corkage our price is $42 and it is $55 at Purple, and Avennia Justine, with corkage our price is $55 and it is $84 at RN74. In terms of less expensive bottles, we have 16 bottles that with corkage are less than $30 for the bottle and many have 90+ points in the Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator etc. I don’t know of any wine bar with as many really good options under $30. We think our wine bar offers the largest selection, a unique browsing experience and the least expensive prices of any other wine bar in the area. We are very happy to be here on Capitol Hill and enjoying the discussion about wine, wine bars etc. Cheers!