Grape Killers Lounge Opens at Waterfront Grill
July 16, 2009 by Doug Haugen
In Octavia E. Butler‘s apocalyptic but hopeful novel Parable of the Sower, when times got tough, people began to walk up I-5 from California to Washington where they could prosper (stay alive, even), and along the way, natural collaborations were formed among like-minded people, who began to travel together, look out for one another, and act in the best interest of the whole group, which they called Earthseed–a fictional religion adhered to for practical purposes if not spiritual ones.
In much the same way, in this sour economy, we’re starting to see alliances form in the wine industry such as the new Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island, who feel they can better get the word out about their wineries if they work together.
The newest collaboration comes in the form of Grape Killers, a veritable rat pack of wineries from the warehouse district in Woodinville. Grape Killers consists of Baer Winery, Darby Winery, Gorman Winery, Guardian Cellars, Mark Ryan Winery, Sparkman Cellars and Stevens Winery. So, what is it exactly? Chris Gorman of Gorman Cellars said, “We all have worked together very well for years and have formed this loose marketing and support group.” When asked why they joined Grape Killers, Paige Stevens of Stevens Winery told me, “Well, we’re all friends, so that’s a start.”
Like Earthseed traveling up the freeway, Grape Killers came across Highway 520 from Woodinville to Seattle seeking opportunity, and what they found was the Waterfront Seafood Grill on Pier 70. And, just as Earthseed established a commune when they got to Washington, at Waterfront Grill, the wineries of Grape Killers established the Grape Killers Lounge. The idea here is that the Waterfront Grill will own and operate the venue, which will be stocked up with wines from the Grape Killers member wineries. The wineries will organize events, be at the Lounge a couple of times a week, and pack the place. Not only is that good for them, but good for you, too, since Chris says the prices will be great on 3-oz, 6-oz pours and bottle sales.
On July 15, the Grape Killers Lounge held its grand opening, though “grand” is an understatement. When I arrived at the Waterfront Grill, the place was locked up and dark, and the sign on the door said they were closed for a couple of days. However, a sign on the wall of the building still announced the grand opening part for Grape Killers, and I was a bit confused. Some other shiny-faced winos arrived who had bought tickets for the event, and they were not about to be deterred. They headed around the corner toward the back of the building, and I followed. Good call, because as we arrived out on the pier, we saw a sandwich board with the unmistakable Grape Killers logo.
After checking in at the ticket table, I was stamped with a Jolly Roger, and I made my way in. Scads of people were glowing in the sunshine, glasses sparkling and wine flowing. Thirsty attendees were queued up in front of each of a string of tables lined up along the pier, as winemakers poured their juice from under umbrellas. Waiters circulated with trays of mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres created by resident chef Peter Levine, and tables were strategically located loaded up with a variety of cheeses. It was really a perfect day for a wine event on Elliot Bay, and the Grape Killers Lounge promises to be a great spot to get some Washington vino.
So, what’s next for the Grape Killers? There will be many more events at the Grape Killers Lounge, and according to Chris Gorman, “We will also be doing events outside of the wine bar to promote us and wineries that we feel think alike.” So, stay tuned.