It's time, Seattle: after nearly a year of anticipation, Walla Walla winemaster Charles Smith will open his massive Georgetown urban winery this Saturday at the foot of Boeing field (1136 S. Albro Pl). Most of the details for Charles Smith Wines Jet City are the same as when we last spoke, with one notable change: Smith's team originally thought it would be the largest urban winery in North America, and has since learned that Gruet Winery in New Mexico is bigger. Charles Smith Wines Jet City remains the second largest on the continent and the largest on the West Coast.
Again, there are two tasting rooms in the new 32,000-square-foot space: one downstairs with a more "rustic Northwest" style, and a larger upstairs room with an early ‘60s Northwest feel, including a nod to the aviation industry. Both rooms will pour vino from Charles Smith Wines, K Vinters, Wines of Substance, and more, and both provide a generous view of the winemaking at work in the back of the building, and one of Boeing field and Mt. Rainier out front. The company makes Rhône and Bordeaux varietals, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, and the new Georgetown building has capacity to produce 45,000 cases annually. (In Walla Walla, Smith currently produces 750,000 cases annually that he sells in 24 countries and 50 US states.)
The tasting rooms for the new winery will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and Smith says that events will also be coming as the space evolves. "Is this a restaurant?" Smith asks. "No. But will we have amazing dinners here? Yes. Is this a concert venue? No. But will we have great bands play live shows here? Yes." (He already kicked off with music by Mudhoney and Dead Moon Monday, July 20, as part of a Georgetown neighborhood party.)
In the end, though, Smith—who was named Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2014, and by Food and Wine in 2009—is clear that this place is mainly about the wine, a message furthered by the space's concrete floors and sparse design by Olson Kundig Architects. "We're maniacs about making wine," Smith says. "[The new winery] is nothing really fancy; it's just on the larger side," Smith says. His team had run out of space in Walla Walla, so he set up in Georgetown to become available to more people and because this neighborhood, where he lived for part of his childhood, is one where people make things. While a lot of Seattle has changed, he likes that Georgetown is still gritty and has "held on to its bones."
The doors open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and there is no formal tour schedule, but Smith will be on hand to show people around. For a preview, check out the space in this video:
Charles Smith opens the largest urban winery on the West Coast in Georgetown, Seattle, WA