• Special Events + the Perfect Wine Bar Make a Winning Combination

    FROM THE Summer 2015 ISSUE
  • Special Events + the Perfect Wine Bar Make a Winning Combination

    FROM THE Summer 2015 ISSUE
  • Special Events + the Perfect Wine Bar Make a Winning Combination

    FROM THE Summer 2015 ISSUE

From intimate spaces to grand venues, these wine bars offer the wine connoisseur and novice alike a delightful environment in which to explore, converse and celebrate.

Anchorage, Alaska

Owners Robert de Lucia, Scott Anaya and Chad Culley love wine, food and conversation, and established Crush to create a comfort- able place where people can experiment with wines, enjoy a casual meal or indulge in a $1,000 vintage bottle. The Bistro offers entrées such as Niçoise salad with confit salmon and Alaskan pork meatballs, while the Cellar, located in the loft overlooking the Bistro, features an eclectic international collection of more than 400 wines.

“The Cellar is a specialty bottle shop with the feel of a boutique wine store, but without the price or the ’tude,” says Robert de Lucia.

The Crush Tasting Room, located upstairs, provides private space for up to 30 people. The semiprivate sommelier table, located to the side of the main dining room, is perfect for 12 guests. And for those who want the Crush staff all to themselves, the entire restaurant can be rented.

Kirkland, Washington

This wine bar and retail shop is located on the waterfront in downtown Kirkland and  is owned by the husband-wife team of Larry Springer and Penny Sweet. The Grape (as locals call it) boasts an impressive selection of wines from around the world and special- izes in Northwest vintages. The ambiance is relaxed and warm, with small tables deco- rated with painted vines and wine crates art- fully stacked throughout. The owners’ two golden retrievers, Beaune and Brix, are the welcoming committee.

Intimate parties are seated at the wine bar, at small tables or on the comfortable outdoor patio with views of Lake Washington. Penny’s Wine Cave is a private room that accommo- dates up to 30 and is separated from the rest of the shop by French doors (and comes equipped with Wi-Fi and TVs). This intimate space is decorated with a chandelier and walls covered with a collage made from wine box panels.

Vancouver, British Columbia

In 2013, Sean Heather, president of the Heather Hospitality Group and the visionary behind the creation of Salt Tasting Room, was inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame. Food and wine critics credit Heather and Salt Tasting Room for launching the charcuterie and cheese plate craze that swept Vancouver. Salt Tasting Room, located on gritty Blood Alley in historic Gastown, opened in 2006. The bar, with its dynamic array of wines, beers and sherries artfully paired with artisan cheese, small-batch cured meats and selected condi- ments, has been wildly popular ever since. It’s all about the wine and the palate here. The décor is chic minimalist industrial; a chalkboard proclaims the daily menu choices, and the conversation is lively and engaging. Downstairs, the Salt Cellar seats 50 at the communal table and is a perfectly delightful spot for private parties.

Portland, Oregon

Located in the vibrant Division/Clinton neigh- borhood of Portland, the SE Wine Collective is part wine bar and part wine production facility, says Kate Monroe, who co-founded the Collective with her husband, Thomas Monroe, as a unique urban winery for custom crush wine production.

The environment immerses guests in wine culture: The main wall and bench seating are made of old barrels; glass roll-up doors permit observation of the vinification process; and the barrel room table is surrounded by wine barrels. Wines from resident artisanal winer- ies as well as inspirational winemakers from around the world are paired with a select menu of small bites.

“The Collective is a unique setting with more than 5,000 square feet of space in the heart of inner Southeast Portland, with space for events of all sizes and budgets,” says Monroe, “whether the event is a corporate wine dinner, a distinctively Portland wedding or an intimate birthday celebration.”

Boise, Idaho

Jerry Beard, owner of Tastings—a wine bar and market located in southeast Boise—calls himself a wine geek and takes pride in the amazing collection of bottles available in his Tastings shop. “We’re your local friendly neighborhood wine bar,” says Beard, “but we also have more than 600 wines available in the market.” Weekly wine-tasting events feature boutique wineries, local winemakers and distribu- tors, and highly sought-after wines—all artfully paired with live music and a scrumptious light menu (Jerry’s special crab cakes with lemon aioli are a crowd fave).

Private parties are a priority at Tastings, and the mellow wine bar is the perfect venue for a special event. Beard and his staff delight in creating menus and tastings uniquely suited for each occasion—from baby and bridal showers to birthdays, anniversaries and team-appreciation gatherings. Guests rave about the service and the staff’s knowledge of wine.

Portland, Oregon

Thirst is located on the riverfront at the RiverPlace Esplanade. With unobstructed river and bridge views, it is an ideal location to watch the Christmas Ships in December and the downtown fireworks in the summer, according to owner Leslie Palmer. Although Thirst can accommodate parties of up to 125, its private spaces are intimate, warm and inviting, and the food-and-wine pairings are exceptional. The River Room has copper walls and a fireplace, and the Tuscan-styled Cellar is reminiscent of a wine-country villa. Both include seasonal outdoor seating. Private-party menus feature food made from scratch with local ingre- dients and food-friendly Pacific Northwest wines. Palmer personally picked 100 wines available by the bottle and 35 wines available by the glass for private parties.

Seattle, Washington

The largest wine store and tasting bar in the Northwest, Wine World is located in the Wallingford neighborhood. Its warehouse con- tains thousands of wines, beers and spirits from around the world—from classic regions as well as the more obscure. Looking for a fine Croatian wine? Check Wine World.

But Wine World isn’t just about wine sales, it’s also about creating an urban gathering spot expertly designed for sharing and enjoying great wines. “We have 4,000 square feet of event space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking down- town Seattle and views of Mount Rainier,” says Mary Jo Bradley, events coordinator for Wine World. “We can accommodate up to 200 in our ballroom, VIP lounge and wine cellar settings.” From business meetings and networking events to private tastings and birthday celebrations, Wine World handles hundreds of events each year.

In the city of Rigby, situated in southeastern Idaho, LaBelle Lake offers a “cozy, Idaho log cabin, retreat-from-reality feel,” says Annika Frandsen, manager of the property. 

Originally the family home of the Youngstroms, owned by Jim and Shannon Youngstrom, the family made the decision in 2018 to turn the home into an intimate host site for an array of events. 


In the early 1990s, Washington communities and activists had a vision of maintaining green wilderness and creating space where people could embrace the outdoors near urban cities like Seattle. “We’re all better and healthier when we’re connected to nature,” says Caroline Villanova, community and partnerships manager at Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.


Visit Seattle, in partnership with the King County government, will host “Cloudbreak: Seattle’s Revive Live Music Fest,” in support of Seattle’s music community.