One of the most historic buildings in Woodinville Wine Country has received a long awaited facelift.
Matthews Winery, which helped launch some of the best boutique wineries in Woodinville if not Washington State, is just wrapping up a complete refresh of its winery and tasting room, which is located neatly between the Schoolhouse Wine District and the Warehouse Wine District.
"We have a special property here in Woodinville,” said winery owner Cliff Otis, “but we knew that the winery and tasting room needed to be refreshed in order to complement the outstanding wines being enjoyed by our guests.”
Although the Matthews’ brand started in the early 1990s, the winery itself wasn’t built until the early 2000s. By 2015, it clearly was showing its vintage. So in early 2016, Cliff and his wife Diane set out to change that.
Several interior walls were removed to expand and open up the space, making room for a long, custom-made tasting bar. The interior, which had been reminiscent of a dark barrel cave, was opened up and brightened with a fresh coat of paint, new lighting and new windows and doors that bought in much-needed natural light.
Custom-made furniture replaced dated wine-barrel table tops and stools. Outdoor seating also was expanded and some propane patio heaters are a welcome addition for guests – rain or shine. Locally sourced artisan meats, cheese and other products will be available in the tasting room, enabling guests to enjoy small plates to complement their wine tastings.
Not all the changes are cosmetic. The building has upgraded electrical and sound systems, improved ADA access and added improvements to help with the safety and security needs of the guests.
The refresh to the historic old space is stunning. Once through the front door, visitors feel as if they are transported to a French farm house with warm natural light glowing on bright, white-washed walls.
“Matthews’ heritage is deeply rooted in Bordeaux-style wines,” Cliff Otis said. “Now our space reflects the commitment to that heritage.”
While the Matthews building doesn’t represent the cradle of Woodinville Wine Country, it did serve as the birthing room for a number of well-known Washington wine brands.
Matt Loso launched the Matthews brand in 1992 and the winery building became a club house of sorts for budding winemakers. The list reads like a who’s who of well-known boutique Woodinville wineries.
• Mark McNeilly got his start here as the Matthews’ sale manager before converting his own brand, Mark Ryan Winery, from a hobby to a commercial enterprise in the early 2000s.
• Tim and Paige Stevens volunteered and worked at Matthews before launching Stevens Winery and eventually Paige’s own brand, Raige And Wines.
• Ditto for Lance Baer (Baer Winery), Ross Mickel (Ross Andrew Winery), Jerry Reiner (Guardian Cellars) and Brennon Leighton (B. Leighton Wines, Charles Smith Wines).
• Aryn Morell, who currently makes wines for the Matthews and Tenor brands as well as other wineries such as Gard, also started his Washington winemaking career in the building.
“It was an interesting time in Woodinville,” McNeilly said. “The economy was tricky, but there was still a rising tide mentality in the wine community here. A bunch of us frequently would hang out at the (Matthews’) building, trying to figure out how do our own brands.”
It may be hard to quantify how this humble building influenced the Woodinville wine scene. But think of it this way, said Cliff Otis. Nearly a dozen winemakers started or honed their craft at this location, and all of them have gone onto to influence other generations of winemakers.
“The building may look non-descript from the outside, but it’s drenched in the history of Woodinville’s wine industry,” he said. “If these walls could talk, I’m sure we would hear some fascinating stories about great wines, great friends and great ambitions for Woodinville’s wine industry.”