Winemaker to open Olympia shop

McCrea Cellars: Tastings to be offered 4 days a week

August 12, 2010 

Winemaker to open Olympia shop

Doug McCrea, front, works with Bill West, right, on spotlight placement at McCrea Cellars' new wine-tasting bar, which is slated to open Saturday in the New Caldonia Building on Fifth Avenue in downtown Olympia. Customers will be able to buy a wine sample before taking home a bottle or case.

BY STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian

OLYMPIA - An internationally recognized winery with ties to Thurston County plans to open its first wine-tasting bar this week in downtown Olympia.

Doug McCrea of McCrea Cellars of Rainier plans to open the Olympia Wine and Tasting Bar at noon Saturday, featuring the red and white Rhone Valley varietals that the business is known for, as well as Salida wines, a relatively new wine label for the company.

The wine-tasting bar is in the New Caldonia Building on Fifth Avenue, which also is home to the Olympia Downtown Association and the shoe store Bonaventure.

McCrea Cellars offers wine tasting by appointment at his production facility in Rainier, but the location doesn’t lend itself to visitors, he said. The new tasting room allows the business to market itself to an area outside of Seattle, potentially boosting its direct-to-consumer sales, which represent 18 percent of McCrea’s sales.

“It’s small, but it really is pretty,” he said Wednesday about his 500-square-foot location. McCrea also plans to open a wine-tasting location in Seattle’s “SoDo” district this fall, he said.

McCrea Cellars has been in business for 22 years and sells about 4,000 cases of wine annually. It works with four grape growers in Yakima Valley, specializing in Rhone varietals, a type of grape made famous in the Rhone Valley in France. The winery also has recently created Salida wines, such as the Tempranillo, a type of grape unique to Spain. McCrea Cellars’ wines are distributed in Japan, Canada and about 20 states, he said.

Olympic Wine Merchant owner Patrick Hub said Wednesday that McCrea’s wines are very well made and that he is a pioneer in producing Rhone varietals in Washington. As for the wine tastings, Hub said he doesn’t expect it to take business away from those other downtown businesses and restaurants that offer tastings. Olympic Wine Merchant has wine tastings every Friday and on Sundays, he said.

“I’m happy to see him do it,” he said about the new wine tasting bar.

The wine tasting bar will offer free samples of McCrea and Salida wines this weekend, but eventually will charge for its tastings, McCrea said. The wine tasting bar expects to charge $5 to $9, depending on whether it’s one tasting, a selection of tastings, or a glass of wine. Customers also will be able to purchase wine by the bottle or by the case.

Bonaventure store owner Jeanne Carras lobbied to bring the wine tasting bar to the New Caldonia, saying it will help solidify the building as a destination for shoppers.

“I’m real excited that he will take all of us to the next level financially,” said Carras about the other tenants in the building.

Starting next month, McCrea also expects to launch “third Thursdays,” a special event built around wine tastings that would take advantage of the New Caldonia’s courtyard. The first guest at the first third Thursday likely will be McCrea, talking about the wine growing process, he said.

After this weekend, the Olympia Wine and Tasting Bar will be open 1-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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