Olympic Cellars Winery


After our disappointing trip up to Hurricane Ridge, and having the skies open up in a deluge, Jon and I decided to head back to the hotel for the evening.  On our drive out to Port Angeles, I had seen a winery along the main road, housed in a large historic barn.  I had been thinking that they would be closed by the time we returned from our hike, but with the weather changing our plans, we now had a chance to stop!

Olympic Cellars Winery was founded in 1979, making it the 15th winery founded in Washington State, and the first on the Olympic Peninsula.  I hadn’t realized that there had been wineries on the peninsula so long, but I wasn’t really paying much attention to wine when I was a kid on a family trip to Port Townsend.  The barn that the winery is housed in is 121 years old, and the ladies who own the winery have a lot of pride in the history of the land and the building.  The tasting bar where you sample the wine is also over 100 years old.

Olympic Cellars Winery makes its home in a 121 year old barn

Olympic Cellars Winery makes its home in a 121 year old barn

When we stopped by, it was about 30 minutes before they closed, and the rain had let up so it was mostly just a light sprinkle.  We headed in and were the only ones there.  I apologize for not taking any photos, but imagine a large old barn with a beautiful, dark wood, antique tasting bar.  The rest of the tasting room is an amazingly well stocked, wine themed gift shop.  They have all sorts of wine items and novelty gifts for the wine lover in your life.  They also sell some gift items in their online store, but that is only a fraction of the items that they have in their tasting room.

Olympic Cellars Winery produces three labels, their popular everyday “Working Girl” series, the Olympic Cellars label, which has 5 varietal wines, and the Dungeness label, their artist label series wines.  For your tasting fee, you get to sample 5 wines of your choice.

I hadn’t really planned on tasting that afternoon, so I didn’t take any notes, but we really enjoyed their Cabernet Franc (the 2009 won Best in Show at the Denver International Wine Competition), and the Dungeness Red, which is made with Lemberger grapes.  Neither of us was a fan of their Chardonnay, but I can’t remember what it was about it that didn’t appeal to me.

Overall, the visit was pleasant; my only criticism would be that our server that day didn’t offer up any information about the winery, its history, the winemakers or the wines we were sampling.  If I haven’t been someplace before, I like to hear about the winery; I want to know what I’m drinking and how it was made!  Where do you source your grapes, why is the winery in this location?  Give me something…  So, this lack of conversation made for some awkward long silences when you are the only people in the tasting room.

The bell they use to ring in the harvest is over 100 years old!

The bell they use to ring in the harvest is over 100 years old!

All in all, worth a trip, but you might make sure to bring a friend who likes to talk…

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4 thoughts on “Olympic Cellars Winery

  1. My only tasting experience at a winery also involved a server who didn’t offer any commentary about the wine. It was just: (1) pour; (2) silence. Awkward. I thought the point of tasting rooms was to try to get people to buy the wine. And while “it tastes good” is the primary criteria, a connection with the winery and the wine sellers might also tempt me to buy something that doesn’t jump out at me at first. Or maybe I’m just not getting the point of the wine tasting experience.

    • I completely agree with you; it needs to be about the experience. I understand if the tasting room is busy and a server doesn’t have the time to explain more of the details, but “pour… silence” can absolutely kill a winery experience. When I feel like you am imposing, that just makes me want to get out of there as quickly as possible!

  2. Sometimes the best part about visiting a winery and tasting their product is the tasting room itself. Other times it’s the servers who make it all worth while.
    The best visits include all three factors- great wine, fabulous location/tasting room, and knowledgeable, friendly staff.

    Looks like the tasting room was the star of that show. 🙂

    Chris

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