Lifestyle

Cellar 46: Raising a glass to the new kid on the block

There’s a new kid on the block for wine connoisseurs.

Cellar 46, a combination of wine bar and wine retailer, opened recently in the same building as Bennett’s Bistro. Ryan Allison, prodigal son returning to Mercer Island, is using his many contacts in the wine industry to stock Cellar 46. Concentrating on hard-to-find Washington wines — hence, the name Cellar 46 which alludes to Latitude 46 — where Washington’s world-class wineries grow grapes (as well as Bordeaux in France), Allison has been able to amass many labels which are nearly inaccessible: Leonetti, Quilceda, Pepperbridge.

The Cellar 46 wine bar is comfortable and welcoming. A great place to decompress, have a glass of wine and some gourmet snacks. The menu encompasses the gamut from snacks, light entrees and salads to desserts. Besides wine, other beverages include beer, soda, coffee and espresso. So customers may have anything from a snack to a complete meal.

For wine education, customers may order a “flight” of wine, which is a series of similar wine samples tasted for subtle differences. A flight is the ideal experience for the novice exploring wine or for the seasoned wine enthusiast. It can be wines from the same winery but different years. It can be the same grape from different countries.

Cellar 46 is currently offering flights of four wines for around $20. There are flights of Northwest reds, whites, chardonnays, syrahs, international reds, big blends and even a dessert flight. I have personally found that a wine flight is the only way to compare, contrast and explore a category of wine. Very few of us have the taste memory to accurately recall how a wine tastes even a couple days later.

Cellar 46 also rents wine storage lockers which could be helpful to downsizers. Also some people have told me that keeping their wine cellar out of their house, keeps it out of their mind too. It gives a wine cellar a chance to grow rather than get devoured at every dinner or event. Although Cellar 46’s seven day a week from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. does allow easy access to your cellar! The storage units hold three cases and rent for around $25 per month.

Besides adding to their wine cellars from Cellar 46 purchases, customers can have other wine sent to Cellar 46 where it will be accepted and stored in their lockers. This would be useful for people who are members of wine clubs where wine is shipped routinely. “We want Cellar 46 to feel like an extension of your living room’” said Allison. “Feel free to call us before you arrive and we can start decanting a bottle from your locker to enjoy in the wine bar.”

Wine shipment is also available. Customers can view the entire inventory online at Awinestore.com and have it shipped home. If someone wants to send a Cellar 46 purchase to Uncle George who lives in a “reciprocal state” (determined by the U.S. Government), Uncle George will have a very happy birthday indeed.

Allison, founder of Awinestore.com and Cellar 46, grew up on Mercer Island. His family had a collection of wine in the basement. From this initial interest in wine, he visited many wineries and vineyards in the Northwest. Besides being very busy with his online business and Cellar 46, he owns and operates the Wood River Inn and the Tamarack Lodge in Sun Valley.

Allison’s partner is his brother-in-law Chris Heller. Heller brings the same passion and wine knowledge as Allison to Cellar 46 along with financial management expertise.

However, you may or may not meet these two principals. The man who will be seen the most will be Kitrick Kalebaugh. Kalebaugh has been involved in the wine industry for more 15 years. In California, he sold wine wholesale. Then he worked for Paterno Wines International, representing 33 wineries worldwide.

“But the further I got away from the consumer the less I was enjoying the business,”said Kalebaugh. He then worked in two retail venues.

“Now I’m here at Cellar 46. My two favorite things in life are wine and people. I’m surrounded by both at all times here. Life is good.”

With Allison’s focus on Washington wine and Kalebaugh’s knowledge of imports, the Cellar 46 patron will be well served.

Dee Hitch can be reached at rockypointlane@aol.com.

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