It’s pretty common for a winery’s tasting room to offer some sort of snack. Perhaps a cheeseboard, charcuterie platter or some crackers and dip. But head to Elsom Cellars in Sodo and you’ll get all that plus a full pie-focused menu.
The winery, owned by winemaker Jody Elsom, began in 2006. The impetus, according to Kassie McKnight, in charge of Elsom Cellars’ operations and marketing, was when Elsom had a glass of Argentinian Malbec and “it rocked her world.” Enough so that Elsom ended up in the first class to graduate from Washington State University’s enology program.
“That’s when she started making wine and Malbec was one of her focuses,” McKnight says.
The winery’s first location was in Sodo, but it spent a few years in Woodinville, and returned to Sodo nearly five years ago. The winery is now in a building called The Adventure Hub, sharing space with two adventure companies. McKnight says the three businesses rearranged the interior in January, giving the winery more space and a chance to expand menu offerings.
Now, the industrial-chic space features a massive oak bar fringed with barrel staves, a few comfy chairs and large family-style tables. When I was there, massive bins of grapes awaiting the crush ringed the room.
Joining Elsom, McKnight, assistant winemaker Rebecca Weber and the rest of the all-female tasting-room staff is Alyssa Bleifuss, aka The Pie Lady. You might remember her as the former owner of Capitol Hill’s Pie Bar and from her Magnolia neighborhood bakery The Seattle Pie Company, which closed in 2012.
McKnight says they didn’t set out to have an all-female staff, it just “came into place over time.” She did say that when it comes to events and participating in the community, “we try to support other women initiatives and businesses.”
“Jody is a breast cancer survivor, so we’re pretty heavily involved in fundraising for breast cancer and cancer in general,” McKnight says. “It plays a role in what we support and who finds us.”
They first started serving Bleifuss’ pies at events, but about four months ago decided to give a full menu a try. Bleifuss created a menu to pair with the winery’s red-centric offerings. On the savory side, there is classic chicken pot pie, quiche Lorraine and a savory special called the “Adventure Pie.” Sweet pies include apple, raspberry rhubarb, peach, sour cherry, and a humble crumble with apples and three types of berries alongside a chocolate bourbon and coconut cream. There’s also a sweet adventure pie special offered daily.
Each savory slice comes with an arugula salad topped with shredded beets and goat cheese, and tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. There’s also a good ol’ cheese plate, Mediterranean mezze platter and charcuterie.
Elsom is open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. They’re family-friendly, and have plenty of games to keep little ones occupied, but keep in mind this is a working winery. There are no booster seats, and the floors are concrete. My friend Sarah and I escaped our families one Thursday evening and had the place to ourselves.
The savory Adventure Pie was a shredded beef fajita ($14), while the sweet Adventure Pie was blueberry ($9). We went for both, plus a slice of chicken pot pie ($14). Sarah’s parents are wine club members (hi, Trina and Dave!) — no, membership is not a prerequisite — and Sarah loves Elsom’s Grenache ($34), so we ordered a bottle instead of going for a tasting flight ($10).
The grenache was also recommended by our server as one that would pair perfectly with the beef fajita pie. That’s the thing about having a pie shop in a winery, the perfect pairing is just an ask away.
Both savory pies were plump with filling and packed with flavor. The chicken pot pie had plenty of bird, but also lots of vegetables and wasn’t so saucy it turned the pastry soggy. The beef fajita had a much looser texture, but was rich and satisfying. The arugula salad added a crunchy touch.
We were asked if we wanted the blueberry pie heated and served with ice cream, to which we responded with an emphatic yes. The ample slice arrived with the same perfectly flaky crust and a two-inch layer of juicy, sweet, fresh blueberries sandwiched in between.
If you aren’t a wine drinker, there is sparkling water, hot tea and coffee on offer. You can also purchase whole pies.
If you are a pie lover, be sure to put Elsom on your list.
Elsom Cellars, noon-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; 2960 Fourth Ave. S. (Sodo), Seattle; 425-298-3082, elsomcellars.com