‘A labor of love,’ Capitol Hill’s European Vine Selections marks 50 years of bringing fine wines to Seattle — and tasting every single one

The wine world of the 1970’s was a wild time. The rising cost of imported wine was affecting American consumers and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms import laws around specific labeling for French and Spanish wine was cost prohibitive for small vintners. In 1972, to help counter these frustrations, four Seattle friends decided to open their own wine business, lessening the damage done to their own bank accounts, and in return starting a legacy of knowledge, passion, and decades of experience tasting wine that continues to this day on Capitol Hill.

European Vine Selections opened for four hours a week during the first two years at its original Fremont location, and in 1974, expanded hours and according to part-owner Tarik Burney, “they started expanding their hours and running it like a proper business”. On Valentine’s Day 1987 they opened the Capitol Hill shop in the same location it is now.

What Seattle benefits from a tiny shop along 15th Ave E on Capitol Hill is 50 years of a carefully crafted selection of wines from around the globe. Continue reading

Eaglemount finds Seattle home for taproom on Capitol Hill — UPDATE

 

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Eaglemount’s Port Townsend tasting room (Image: Eaglemount)

By Hannah Saunders

There are no vineyards on Capitol Hill but the neighborhood’s wine scene continues to grow. There are no apples orchards up here, either. But a new tasting room from Eaglemount Wine and Cider will move into the Zephyr mixed-use apartment building, located at 1656 E Olive Way, with plans to open August 1st.

“I am personally really excited for the tasting room to open as I myself live in the area and hope to use the space to not only provide our neighbors with wonderful products but to also provide a an inclusive and safe environment for the local Capitol Hill community,” Dayna Usa of Port Townsend-based Eaglemount tells CHS.

The winery and cidery has “has been producing hard ciders and meads sourced from heirloom apple trees in our homestead orchard planted in 1883 and from other homestead orchards on the Olympic Peninsula” for more than 20 years. Continue reading

Something to look forward to in 2022? Juice Club making plans for Otherworld Wine Bar on Capitol Hill

“LEASED” (Image: CHS)

Another happy Juice Club customer (Image: @juice__club)

The overhauled building once home to legendary Capitol Hill hangout the Electric Tea Garden — and its daytime, downstairs neighbor, the equally legendary Artificial Limb Co. — will have new life in the new year.

CHS has learned that the duo behind the popular Juice Club pop-up series is making brick and mortar plans for the upgraded 1909-built building at the intersection of 14th and Pike just off E Madison.

Details on the Otherworld Wine Bar are still to be announced but the project from Juice Club partners Matt Lucas and Ben Chaykin has applied for a liquor license for the space and registered a new business with the state for the address for a venue offering beer and wine, plus off-premises sales. Continue reading

Checking in: Light Sleeper and Wide Eyed Wines

Capitol Hill has a new wine bar but you can’t yet sit at it and it’s only open for lunch.

That’s how things go during the strange times of COVID-19.

For now, Light Sleeper and its sibling shop Wide Eyed Wines are open for daytime takeout and your bottle shopping needs inside Pike/Pine’s Chophouse Row.

Eventually you can sit at that bar and enjoy a glass of natural and biodynamic wine or a cocktail while eating a pizza from the wood-fired oven and some bar snacks while you toast the researchers and front-line medical workers who got us through all of this.

The bar and oven might feel familiar. CHS reported here on the Bar Ferdinand employees taking over the restaurant as chef Matt Dillon cut his last ties with the neighborhood in early 2020.

Sommelier Ezra Wick and chef Eli Dahlin got the keys just as the pandemic first hit. But by the end of 2020, Light Sleeper was born and ready to roll with the pandemic’s punches. Continue reading

Return of the Capitol Hill newsstand: Big Little News planned for Pike/Pine

It’s been a decade since Capitol Hill last had a newsstand. The news? Well, it’s changed a bit in the meantime but the appetite for newspapers and magazines has somehow survived the explosive growth of online information and smartphones.

CHS has learned a new project coming to Pike/Pine from some familiar faces in the neighborhood will celebrate that appetite for the printed page — and the bottleshop. Continue reading

Bar Ferdinand employees to take over with new wine and bottle shop project as chef Dillon cuts ties with Capitol Hill restaurant scene

Upper Bar Ferdinand when it debuted in 2015

It is time to turn over the dirt and grow new things inside Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row. Chef Matt Dillon’s last Capitol Hill connection has been severed. Bar Ferdinand is no more. But a new wine-focused project is already being lined up to take its place. The group of food and drink experts taking on the venture include two of the now dearly departed wine bar’s staff. They are ready for new things moving beyond hand wringing over the state of the city’s dining scene.

“As far as speaking eloquently about how Seattle is changing, that has been litigated,” chef Eli Dahlin tells CHS.

“We’re not trying to change Capitol Hill,” he said. Continue reading

Juice Club planning a ‘natural wine party’ on E Denny Way

Organic, low intervention, simply complex, imbued with possible health benefits, it is no surprise that natural wine is becoming the official beverage of our times — or, at least, the official beverage of Capitol Hill, Seattle circa 2020.

Juice Club, a popular pop-up project that has grown into a Seattle phenomenon around the city’s bar scene, is making plans for its first rooted investment with a new joint on E Denny Way on the ground level of the Saint Florence.

The E Denny facing space in the 1914-built masonry apartment building just up from the E Olive Way intersection underwent a recent overhaul and is awaiting a new tenant. A state liquor license application shows the Club lining up to create a new “beer/wine specialty shop” in the space indicating a project leaning more toward the event and retail end of the natural wine spectrum. Continue reading

La Dive — dark and cozy and comfortable and pink — now open on E Pike

Opatz, Custer, and Gurwitz

La Dive, a new natural wine bar and hangout from one of the creative forces behind Montana and Nacho Borracho, is ready for its new pink bar top to add a new layer to Pike/Pine nightlife.

“Sometimes I want to have a glass of wine,” Kate Opatz said at a friends and family debut for the new E Pike venue. “It’s still dark and cozy and comfortable but, yeah, a little more grown up.”

CHS reported this summer on the plans for Opatz to team up with first time owners Ani Custer and David Gurwitz on the transformation of the former Other Coast sandwich shop into a new bar with a minimalist approach to great wines — and some more outrageous elements like champagne bong “chambongs” and frozen wine slushies like friesling and frojolais.

The trio’s match-up is a good pairing. Custer grew her knowledge with the Garbage People Love Wine pop-ups, while Gurwitz built on his experience at Lark and Spinasse to build La Dive’s menu of bar toasts and dumplings. Opatz, meanwhile, has been part of creating successful neighborhood bars outside of the Pike/Pine core. Montana and Nacho are, affectionately, labeled dive bars. Continue reading

Freedom! Capitol Hill is getting a ‘self pour’ wine and beer bar

Wine entrepreneur David Clawson is back in the States and ready to lead a revolution of freedom in the wine and beer biz while putting an important Capitol Hill cafe space back into motion. He may have been “Brexited,” as he puts it, but his new battle in Seattle on the north end of Broadway will be about “self pour” and the freedom to explore beyond the class system of fine wine.

“We are flipping all that on its head,” Clawson tells CHS. “Why not let the customers try an amazing range of variety and wines.”

In coming days, construction will begin to overhaul the former Starbucks indie-flavored Roy Street Coffee into a new cafe by day, wine and beer bar by night venture.

Clawson is still working on a name for the project but he knows what will be at the center of it — self pour.

It will be an experiment — the cafe will be the first in the region to venture into what Clawson said is a popular and successful UK and European trend — in wine and beer democracy.

“You’ll go in, get a card, and use the machines — like a credit card — select, dispense different pour sizes. Hit the button, off you go,” Clawson explains.

“It’s giving them freedom to try a huge range — likely more than 100 wines and beers by the glass, more heavy on the wine. And letting people do what they want.” Continue reading

‘An opportunity to ‘buy back the block,’ Pike/Pine’s Poco has new owner

(Image: Poco)

Tiny Poco, born as a Capitol Hill wine bar and then evolved along with the rest of the Hill into a cocktail bar, is coming around to emphasize the grape, again, on upper E Pine near 15th Ave E.

It’s a quiet transition led by a new owner for the 13-year-old venue. Quieter still might be the more important story behind the bar at Poco. One of the few Black-owned businesses on Capitol Hill will remain so.

“In addition to just being on Capitol Hill nearby to where I live, the fact it was a Black-owned business was important to me,” Rashida Burnham tells CHS.

“I’ve lived in the Central District for a while now. I’ve seen gentrification. I thought this was an opportunity to ‘buy back the block.’ I’m proud of that.” Continue reading