Published November 04, 2012
Micro-winery brings new life to building in Olympia's coreROLF BOONE
Classic Winemakers, a 10-year-old micro-winery that has relatively new owners, has moved to downtown Olympia from Lacey, completing an upgraded picture for a recently renovated building and a corner downtown. The Cunningham Building at Fourth Avenue and Adams Street, which was once desperately in need of a facelift and steady tenants, now has the winery, an olive oil retailer next door and market-rate housing upstairs. Classic Winemakers co-owner Josh Monti, after visiting the olive oil business and noticing the vacant space next door, decided that was the spot for him. The downtown location is centralized for customers and offers more foot traffic. The wine and olive oil businesses also complement each other, he said. Classic Winemakers opened downtown in October. “It seemed like a good fit,” Monti said. Monti, 36, and co-owner Andrew Rose, 36 – plus a silent partner – bought the business three years ago. Rose was already working for the business at the time. Classic Winemakers sells wine and makes wine, but does it with a twist: the business doesn’t grow its own grapes or crush them on site, but instead buys the juice, skins and other ingredients from other wineries, then ferments the wine on site before bottling. One of its suppliers is Desert Wind Winery in Prosser, he said. Customers also can do it themselves, by tasting, blending and then bottling individual bottles from one of several wines on tap. The more serious wine enthusiasts can create their own full batch or half-batch of wine, producing 30 bottles or 15 bottles. About 50 batches typically are in process at any one time, Monti said. Half-batch pricing ranges from $144.50 to $174.50, while full-batch pricing ranges from $249 to $389. Customers, too, can add the finishing touches to their product on site, including corks, bottle toppers and labels. Lewis County residents Mary-Louise Darnell and her husband, Dean, have been customers since 2008, she said. They enjoy the process of making their own wine, creating both red and white wines. “We don’t mess around,” she said. The couple, who also are members of a classic car club, sometimes drive to the winery with all of the members, all of whom make wine, Darnell said. She called the new Classic Winemaker’s location “classy.” The interior design, which is described by the owners as “vintage industrial” – using, for example, metal rings from a barrel to make chandeliers – also has a couch, placed strategically in front of the windows. A customer can come in, enjoy a glass of wine and people watch, Monti said.