When you think of Woodinville wineries, what comes to mind? Well, yes, there are a lot of them, but how do you distinguish one from the next? How about frequenting the one where everybody knows your name?
“I had no idea I would be working in a bar when I accepted this position. It’s like working at Cheers!” said Debi Behrndt, tasting room manager at Alexandria Nicole Cellars, a boutique estate winery with a tasting room in the lower level of the .
Behrndt, a 20-year veteran of the wine business on the retail side, came to Alexandria Nicole a year ago to manage the Prosser-based winery’s Woodinville tasting room. Behrndt said one of the best parts of her job is being able to leisurely talk to the people coming into the tasting room. It’s her warm personality that instantly makes you feel as if you were sitting in her living room and is one of the things that keeps those people coming back.
Another reason the Woodinville tasting room is so popular is the ambience of the place. The tasting room is beautifully decorated with warm, rich woods and subtle earth tones, and in the club room there are large leather sofas surrounding a grand stone fireplace, a flat screen television, separate bar, signature barrels that line the wall, and intimate tables dotting the room.
The attention to detail, the engaging personalities of the staff and, of course, the wine have made the Woodinville tasting room a local favorite. If that weren’t enough, it also offers a tapas menu from The Hollywood Schoolhouse kitchen.
“Our regulars are wine lovers, compassionate and enthusiastic, they are locals and come from all around the world,” Behrndt said. “The locals usually become our friends, and by friends I mean, they often become part of our personal lives.”
Another popular aspect of Alexandria Nicole is its wine club. Currently there are 1,900 club members, 80 percent of whom live west of the mountains, according to Behrndt. Club members are invited to a weekly happy hour and receive other exclusive benefits. Even though membership continues to grow steadily, Behrndt says Alexandria Nicole Cellars takes pride in maintaining the integrity of being a boutique winery.
The Woodinville tasting room is open to the public and you do not have to have a membership to attend most of the monthly special events in the private Club Room, including popular release parties and a monthly Girls Night Out event.
Of course, no amount of amenities or events will account for much unless there is also good wine. Alexandria Nicole Cellars delivers that as well. The winery was recently named 2011 Washington Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. “I remember when I got the phone call,” Behrndt said. “It’s a wonderful experience to grow with the family you're working for; we were all beside ourselves that day.”
“Once you’re here you're part of the family,” says Behrndt. “We truly believe in making our guests shine just like our wine, and we want them to feel comfortable and welcome.”