These Wineries Share an Expansion Strategy

The Seattle-area community of Woodinville’s new Schoolhouse District has landed another big fish on its Wine Walk Row, with a winery from the Cakebread Cellars family tree, announcing its plans to open a tasting room in late fall of 2022. 

Mullan Road Cellars was founded by Dennis Cakebread, who owns the Napa Valley institution that bears his name. Having a tasting room on Woodinville’s Wine Walk Row will give it another opportunity to tell its story and turn new people on to wines that have evolved since Cakebread made his Washington State debut as well as Cakebread’s Napa Valley wines.

“We were drawn to Washington State because of the exciting wine quality up here, as well as the warm reception we received by so many professionals in the community,” Cakebread said. “We started Mullan Road Cellars back in 2012 and have spent the last several years exploring some of the state’s unique growing areas in search of the right place to anchor our project.  

“We’ve been particularly excited about grapes from the cooler Royal Slope AVA outside of Royal City, and have decided to focus our efforts there. Now that we’ve dialed in the grapes, it’s time to share these wines with friends.” 

In Woodinville, Mullan Road Cellars will be able to introduce guests to not just a selection of its wines from the new brand, but Cakebread Cellars as well. 

“(It) will allow us to share our story and our philosophy on winemaking, which is built around varietal balance and elegance,” Cakebread said.

A focused selection of food pairings will also be available and will showcase purveyors from around Washington State.

Woodinville is home to more than 130 tasting rooms from wineries located throughout the state, making it a logical choice for Mullan Road Cellars to open up shop.

“While Washington has many amazing communities where we considered setting up our first tasting room, we ultimately settled on Woodinville because of its location in the Puget Sound area, where our experience can be a little more accessible to residents and visitors alike,” said David Griffiths, General Manager at Mullan Road Cellars and a long-term Washington State resident.  

Located in the heart of downtown Woodinville in the Greater Seattle area and completed Fall of 2021, The Schoolhouse District is a unique destination with multi-use locales. These include the 264-unit residential community District Flats, the restored historic Schoolhouse No. 23 that is now home to a steak restaurant, Wine Walk Row with nine wine tasting and retail venues, and additional ground-level retail spaces for local businesses.

Tasting rooms located along Wine Walk Row will have roll-up garage doors to allow for an outdoor/indoor experience that can be inviting for passersby to stop in.

Earlier this year, Walla Walla institution L’Ecole N° 41 chose the new area for its first location in Western Washington and the Seattle market.

L’Ecole owner and managing winemaker Marty Clubb said they were taking the plunge to take advantage of the vital Puget Sound Market.

Clubb said they had long-considered expanding their flagship Walla Walla Valley location into the Seattle area, and particularly the Woodinville area.

“The whole prospect felt serendipitous,” Clubb said. “We are looking forward to providing a L’Ecole experience in a totally new space, yet with a familiar feel.”

Carissa Cook, Development Manager for Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, Oregon, is charged with helping oversee the opening of four combination tasting room/restaurants in Oregon and Washington State. She told Vintner Magazine that urban settings were indeed a good opportunity to attract new customers.

“The urban customer wants a food and wine experience that fits into their everyday life — date nights, an after work glass of wine, or a stop on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine,” Cook said. “The vineyard visitor plans their visit in advance and typically commits to a day of wine tasting. They are looking to learn more about the winemaking process taking place at the vineyards. They often visit from out of town or for a special occasion. An experience at one of our urban tasting rooms does not replace the experience at our estate and vice versa.”

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