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Patterson Cellars quietly makes great wine in Woodinville
WOODINVILLE, Wash. – In a corner of the Warehouse District, John Patterson is quietly making some of Washington’s best wine.
Patterson Cellars was launched by Patterson in 2000 in the Cascade Mountains town of Monroe before moving to Woodinville. Today, Patterson has two locations – perhaps the only winery to do so – in Woodinville, one in the Warehouse District and one near Chateau Ste. Michelle in the Hollywood District.
“I know people find that strange,” Patterson told Great Northwest Wine. “We were a little nervous when we opened. We thought we’d see a vacuum pulling our sales from our warehouse district location (which had already been open for six years). But that wasn’t the case. It was just additional sales.”
We recently caught up with Patterson at his winery and sat down to talk with him. Here’s the interview:
Patterson Cellars starts in Monroe
Patterson grew up in Monroe and got into the wine business when his father worked part-time at a winery. After high school, Patterson started at the winery and worked there for a dozen years.
He then went to Everett Community College to study natural science, then studied winemaking at South Seattle Community College. Now, despite his prowess as a winemaker, he’s going through Washington State University’s wine program.
“I think the education part is definitely a bonus,” he said. “The networking, the techniques you learn – I think everything adds to it.”
Today, Patterson makes more than a half-dozen wines, led by a Bordeaux-style blend called BDX. He also produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Melange Blanc, Chardonnay and a late-harvest Roussanne. He likes to change up the lineup regularly, including a fortified dessert wine, a sparkling wine and different blends.
“It’s always changing,” he said. “We try to make it interesting for our wine club.”
He even makes a wine using Siegerrebe, a rare white German grape grown on Whidbey Island.
In Eastern Washington and Oregon, Patterson uses grapes from such vineyards as Willard and Boushey in the Yakima Valley, Seven Hills in the Walla Walla Valley and Ambassador, Quintessence, Corvus, Ciel du Cheval and the Vinagium holdings on Red Mountain.
“Walla Walla is usually a good trip,” he said with a smile. “Walla Walla is much farther than Red Mountain.”
Patterson Cellars helps nearby wineries
Because he is centrally located in the Warehouse District and has the equipment, Patterson processes a lot of grapes for other wineries, an arrangement that works out for everyone – cash flow for Patterson and no need to purchase expensive equipment for a number of other producers. About two-dozen other wineries work with Patterson.
“It keeps our staff busy,” he said. “It’s been a great part of our business and a good service.”
Patterson is in a busy neighborhood at his Warehouse location. Just in the business park he’s in, there are more than 35 wineries. In the entire Warehouse District, there are at least 45 wineries and tasting rooms. He figures there are at least 110 wineries and tasting rooms in all of Woodinville.
Yet Patterson believes there’s still room for growth. He mentioned that his business is up nearly 39 percent over prior year.
Patterson is on the regional tourism board, and he believes most of his customers come from the region.
“We’re not a tourist destination,” he said. “We get a lot of people who do the day trip out of Seattle. I don’t see a lot from the cruise ships.”
He does see Chateau Ste. Michelle as a huge part of the region’s success.
“It is definitely a bonus,” he said. “No complaints on my part. They market, they put the resources into promoting our area. It’s just incredible.”