New Poulsbo tasting room opens doors to a world of wine
December 10, 2010 · Updated 3:23 PM
POULSBO — If Matt Albee had his druthers, wine tasting would be an activity not just for the highbrow, but for the curious.
“One of my favorite things is when we get somebody that’s never done a wine tasting before,” said Albee, owner of Bainbridge-based Eleven Winery, who likes to demystify the wine culture for those who aren’t familiar. He believes even the most inexperienced taster can tell the difference in quality.
“We figure the better the wine is the more fun,” Albee said.
He opened Eleven Winery’s newest tasting room in Poulsbo this week, at 18827 Front Street. It’s the second tasting room for Eleven, which also operates a tasting room at 287 Winslow Way on Bainbridge. The winery is allowed two tasting rooms under state law.
The Poulsbo tasting room will feature between nine and 10 wines, including Eleven’s popular red blend La Ronde, a dry rosé and a pinot gris port, which is unlike any other Albee has seen in production. Albee will also sell wine accessories and feature a rotation of local artists’ work.
Albee liked downtown Poulsbo and was looking for the right empty storefront. When he found the location across from Rubber Soul in September, at the start of his two-month harvest, the timing was “terrible,” he said. He managed to secure the location anyway, and purchased more grapes and an extra tank to increase his wine production.
Albee put the final touches on the 600-square-foot space this week. He said he doesn’t think his tasting rooms will compete against one another, but draw different crowds. The Winslow Way tasting room attracts vistors from Seattle, while the new Poulsbo tasting room is expected to attract North Kitsap locals and visiting boaters.
Many tasting establishments don’t cater to adults with children, but because there is no legal age limit on who can enter, Albee will keep a box of toys on hand, he said.
It’s a reflection of his own operation, a family-run business that gives after-tax profits to charity.
Europa Deli owner Tammy Mattson said Eleven Winery will make a good addition to the downtown corridor. Europa sells a small selection of wine along with an assortment of beers. She doesn’t believe Eleven will compete with her shop.
“They’re going to bring quality to the downtown, but they’re also going to bring some new customers,” Mattson said. Eleven joins retail wine selections at several downtown restaurants, including MorMor Bistro, Sogno di Vino and That’s A Some Italian.
Albee buys grapes from vineyards in Eastern Washington. He chooses when he’ll harvest them, then puts volunteers to work at his home winery to de-stem, crush and press. White wines are pressed then fermented while red wines ferment with their skins and are later pressed to achieve a rich color.
Albee took an interest in wine-making in the late ‘90s after a career in bicycle racing. He apprenticed for three years in a California winery before he and his wife Sarah moved to Bainbridge Island and started their own business. Eleven’s first wines were bottled in 2004 and 2005.
“My hope is that we get to have a lot of fun sharing our wine with people,” Albee said.