Light rail doesn’t yet reach Woodinville so wineries are, more and more, coming to the cities where their growing base of customers live. Capitol Hill real estate is, so far, too expensive for anybody to try to make their wine on Broadway but we have a start.
Aluel Cellars is now open inside new construction on E Thomas just below Broadway.
“This is much smaller than what they’re doing in SoDo,” Samuel Hilbert told CHS in our visit to the shop during its pre-opening preparations. “But it’s still an urban tasting room.”
The tasting room from Hilbert, who also works in real estate, and Oh, a lawyer, is just a block from Broadway in a space that was originally intended to be an office set-up in a live/work loft but has grown into an intimate and affordable place to build their dream business.
Featuring exclusively the creations of SoDo winemaker Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery under their own label, Hilbert and Alex Oh have brought the tasting room experience to Capitol Hill, offering pours by the glass, flights, perfect pairings, and, they hope, lots of bottles to go to take to your various parties and dinners with friends.
“People want a story,” Oh said about why he and Hilbert believe there is space away from the QFC shelves for another way to purchase wine. “They want to know what they’re drinking is sourced well.”
Capitol Hill’s wine retailing beyond the aisles at the big chain grocers or corner bodegas also got an upgrade in February when Revolution Wine opened on E Pike. The neighborhood did have an urban winery, of sorts, for a time as the CorkHouse business evolved at 10th and Union.
Customers stopping in at Aluel can expect a story or two from Oh and Hilbert. CHS talked with the couple earlier this year and revealed the sticky sweet secret of the tasting room’s name — yes, it’s a mix or a blend, if you will, of their first names. They also told CHS how the partnership was building around Fawbush’s creations because Hilbert and Oh were a fan of his work and his winery was turning out great wines and creative blends. What they didn’t tell us until now is that the deal was sealed over beer, not a glass of Malbec.
While some will jet through quickly to pick up a bottle, Oh and Hilbert hope others will linger with a flight or for a happy hour pairing. The menu includes some straightforward varietals like the aforementioned Malbec and Chardonnay as well as Aluel’s flagship “Coat of Arms” blends. Pairings include simple but “perfect” chocolate or cheese. And, soon, the pairings will be a little more perfect when special chocolates from Seleuss are added to the menu.
Aluel Cellars is located at 801 E Thomas. The tasting room is open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3 PM to 9 PM, Fridays 3 PM to 10 PM, Saturdays noon to 10 PM, and Sundays noon to 6 PM. You can learn more at aluelcellars.com.