Urban Enoteca Review
Address: 4130 First Avenue South Seattle,Washington 98134.
Phone Number: 206-467-9463
Tasting Hours: Wed-Thurs 4:00-9:00, Fri 4:00-11:00, Sat 12:00-11:00, Sun 12:00-5:00
Region: Puget Sound AVA, Washington
Reviewer: Denise Gangnes
Review Date: 3/6/2012
Reviewer: Denise Gangnes
Recession? What recession? Clearly, theres no evidence of an economic downturn within the upscale walls of Urban Enoteca, Seattles combination wine tasting/special event facility.
The Vision: After 12 successful years in the real estate business, owner Terry Thompson was inspired by San Franciscos Press Club and followed his dream to open a similar operation in Seattle. Capitalizing on his love of wine and business savvy, he converted a run-down warehouse into an oasis of oenology; creating a comfortable one-stop wine tasting experience in South Seattle. Thompson had substantial support from his four children, who comprised a dream team of designers and facilities experts in creating a multi-use facility with something for everyone
The Place: Its easy to miss the location on the edge of Seattles Sodo district, tucked under the 1st Avenue South Bridge about a half-mile south of the Spokane Street Viaduct. A nondescript doorway belies the elegantly comfortable, 4000+ square-foot establishment. Private events can be booked in three different areas: the largest is the 2,800 square-foot Riddling Room which houses the long tasting bar. The repurposed metal gates designed as decorative screens and oversized planked wooden dining tables give a nod to the managements commitment to renewable design practices. Recycled wine barrel tables, warm lighting, and a large fireplace create a welcoming atmosphere. Two smaller rooms house areas for private meetings and events.
The Experience:  We were surprised to see dramatic changes at the Enoteca since our first visit six months ago. Gone is the library card which previously tracked purchases from the six different vintners represented. The individual winery stations and their representatives have been replaced by one massive bar touting 8-10 wineries and a separate, smaller bar offering beer and hard liquor samples. The original goal to exclusively feature Eastern Washington wineries has been expanded to include two wineries from Oregons pinot population. Wineries represented on the date we visited included: Anam Cara Cellars, Betz Family Winery, Boudreaux Cellars, Five Star Cellars, Helioterra Wines, Jones Of Washington, Libra Wines, McCrea Cellars, and Treveri Cellars. The lineup is expected to change seasonally so check Urban Enotecas profile page or Urban Enotecas website for details.
A half-dozen pouring staffers have been primarily replaced with Norm, a knowledgeable veteran of Washingtons wine industry. Also missing is the upscale restaurant, replaced with glass-topped wine barrels for special functions and meetings. The tapas-like menu no longer features the delicious (and filling) flatbreads; rather, expect artfully arranged food that is pretty but spendy.
Insiders Tip:  Depending on your ability to consume copious quantities of wine and the size of your pocketbook, the experience at Urban Enoteca can range from a quick couple of sips to a leisurely wasting away of the afternoon or evening. Be aware that tasting fees, which range from $2 for a 1-ounce pour to $20 for the highest end wines (such as Betz Winery) can add up quickly. Our recent visit included several tastes and a generous glass pour, accompanied by delicious molasses braised pork belly and the unique chicken & waffles combination. Our party of two racked up a $70 tab in about 90 minutes without taking home a single bottle of wine. The facilitys greatest success seems to lie in business events, birthday parties, weddings and bridal showers. Special events featuring live music and discount specials draw the largest crowds. The space was fairly quiet on our Saturday afternoon visit, but we took advantage of the opportunity for an informative chat with Norm, drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of Northwest wineries.
Extras:  Club 4130, a members only cigar club, has recently been constructed at the far end of the building and features its own entrance.