Walla Walla outpost coming to Woodinville

 L’Ecole No. 41, Valdemar Estates, Walla Walla Steak Co., and Crossbuck Brewing to open in Woodinville’s new Schoolhouse District in 2022

Woodinville is about to get a new wine tasting and culinary destination with a Walla Walla flair. L’Ecole No. 41, one of Walla Walla valley’s oldest and most venerated wineries, announced today it will be opening a tasting room in Woodinville. The tasting room – the winery’s first outside Walla Walla Valley – will be part of Woodinville’s new Schoolhouse District. The area will also be home to Walla Walla’s Valdemar EstatesWalla Walla Steak Co., and Crossbuck Brewing.

“It’s something we’ve been approached about for decades,” L’Ecole co-owner and managing winemaker Marty Clubb says of opening a satellite tasting room in Woodinville. “We always wanted to make sure we were pursuing the right opportunity.” For a winery located in a historic schoolhouse whose name means “the school” in French, what better opportunity could there be than opening in Woodinville’s nascent Schoolhouse District?

This downtown area gets its name from Woodinville Schoolhouse No. 23, which was built in 1909. The brick building has been vacant for more than a decade and is currently being renovated to house Walla Walla Steak Co. and Crossbuck Brewing.

The district will include a “wine walk,” which L’Ecole and Valdemar will be part of, retail spaces, 261 residential units, and 30,000 square feet of public outdoor space. It will also include a renovated YMCA and on-site parking. With the City of Woodinville and HAL Real Estate as its partners, MainStreet Property Group completed The Schoolhouse District project with GenCap Construction Corp. as the general contractor. It is now fully managed by Insite Property Solutions.

L’Ecole’s tasting room will be 1,400 square feet, with the design done by Seattle-based Boxwood. Rebecca Clubb-Olson, Marty Clubb’s daughter, serves as design consultant. The target date for opening is June.

“It’s a whole new enclave in downtown Woodinville,” Clubb says. “It was the Schoolhouse District, by the Woodinville schoolhouse. It all added up for us.”

Valdemar Estates meanwhile will be located around the corner from L’Ecole. The winery was founded in Walla Walla in 2019 by a fifth generation Spanish winemaking family that also has a winery in Rioja.

“It was not in our short-term plans to open a second location, but I heard about this project, and I fell in love with it,” says CEO and owner Jesús Martínez Bujanda Mora. Valdemar will occupy approximately 2,800 square feet of interior space, plus 1,500 square feet of outdoor patio space.

“We’re hoping to replicate what we're doing in Walla Walla,” Martínez Bujanda says. “So it's going to be Spanish food, Rioja wines of Valdemar, and then our Washington wines.”

Boxwood is also working with Valdemar on this design. As with its facilities in Rioja and Walla Walla, Valdemar is working to make the tasting room 100% inclusive and accessible.

“Whether that's going to be in place since day one or two months after we open, I don't know yet,” says Martínez Bujanda. “But we are working really hard to try to have it by the date we open.”

Walla Walla Steak Co. and Crossbuck Brewing meanwhile will occupy two floors in the renovated schoolhouse. The steak house and brewery opened their first location in Walla Walla in October 2018 in a brick-lined former train depot. The new location’s brick façade will not only give it a similar look, the interior will have similar design concepts.

“You will be able to walk into the historic schoolhouse, see the kitchen, and you can go left to the tap room or right to the steak room,” says managing partner Dan Thiessen. “That's proven to be sort of a magic formula for our concept in Walla Walla.”

Thiessen says both restaurants will have a “come as you are and blue jean comfort.” As in Walla Walla, the same food will be available at both the steakhouse and brewery.

“If you want to sit in the tap room, watch the game, and have a prime New York [steak], you can do that,” Thiessen says. “You want to sit in the bar of the steakhouse and have a Crossbuck burger, you can do that too.” Crossbuck’s beer will continue to be brewed in Walla Walla, but Thiessen says the restaurant will have a similar “tap room feel” as its other location.

With many businesses facing supply chain issues, Thiessen says an opening date hasn’t been determined. “I can guarantee you that we're going to open on a Thursday in ’22,” he says with a laugh.

According to the Schoolhouse District website, other tenants will be Ballard Pizza Company, Café Dupar, and McQueen Champagne Bar. Other wineries on the wine walk have yet to be announced.

The downtown area of Woodinville has been transformed into a wine tasting destination of late. A number of wineries have opened tasting rooms in the new Woodin Creek Village development. Some of these, such as Rocky Pond and Bayernmoor, have already opened. Others, such as Brian Carter Cellars, which is crowdsourcing funding for its new tasting room, are coming. With the Schoolhouse District development a seven minute walk and shorter drive from Woodin Creek, downtown Woodinville suddenly looks primed for tasting and noshing.

This post has been updated

Sean P. Sullivan

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