For anyone feeling like Eastern Washington’s wine country is a bit out of reach, downtown Woodinville’s newly minted Schoolhouse District offers three Walla Walla transplants (with a fourth on the way) to scratch that itch.

Crossbuck Brewing and Walla Walla Steak Co. (both housed in the shell of the historical 1909 Woodinville School) opened the last week of July, while Valdemar Estates tasting room/tapas bar opened at the end of April. Winery L’Ecole is set to open in September. While the three spots tend to skew upscale, there’s something for almost everyone.

A word of caution before you go — the Schoolhouse District is designed to be walkable, but it’s a bit of a sprawling maze. I met a friend for coffee at Café Dupar, located just steps from Valdemar, and my GPS had me driving on a road that did not exist through the Woodinville Sports Fields. And, if you’re looking to grab ice cream at Swanky Scoop after dinner (which you absolutely should do), it’s going to be a bit of a hike through condo land. There is free parking galore, but the two main retail hubs of District Flats and Woodin Creek Village feel a bit disconnected.

Still, don’t let that discourage you from an afternoon or evening in the closest wine country to Seattle.

Valdemar Estates

Noon-6 p.m. Sunday-Monday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 17409 133rd Ave. N.E., Unit 1203, Woodinville; 425-364-4648;

This fifth-generation winery got its start in Spain in 1889. The Walla Walla winery opened in 2019. The tasting room offers wine from Bodegas Valdemar (like a killer white Tempranillo), the original family winery based in Rioja, Spain, alongside Washington-made wines overseen by Walla Walla winemaker Devyani Isabel Gupta. The tasting room here offers singular flights of Spanish or Washington wines plus glass pours. In terms of eats, there’s a small tapas menu that includes creamy jamón ibérico-filled croquetas ($12), salt-crusted papas arrugadas served with a deep green herbaceous mojo verde ($13), and gambas al ajillo ($16), hands down the butteriest, snappiest shrimp I’ve had in a very long time. There are also cheese and charcuterie plates — don’t miss the pile of luscious, feather-light jamón serrano ($16). There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating in the 3,000-square-foot space, and it is a very nice way to spend a Friday afternoon. If you’re in need of more than piles of ham, there are regular paella cooking classes.



Crossbuck Brewing/Walla Walla Steak Co.

3 p.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; 13205 N.E. 175th St., Woodinville; 425-285-3659;;

Casual meets upscale in what was the old Woodinville School House. The brick structure looks the same from the outside, but an extensive remodel makes the interior unrecognizable as a historical schoolhouse outside of a few bricks. Instead, there are plush leather booths, plenty of exposed beams and an open kitchen that connects the more casual Crossbuck Brewing on one end to the more swank Walla Walla Steak Co.

As in Walla Walla, both concepts are under one roof, meaning no matter where you sit in the building you can order off either menu, which seems nice in theory, but in practice is just a choice between seeing a television or not while eating the same massive steak. However, it is quite adorable to see so many bananas being fostered (is that a verb?). The evening I was there I saw no fewer than three different staff members flaming rum and bananas from a little cart tableside at regular intervals. The service is impeccable and they even offer a 34-ounce bone-in rib-eye for two carved tableside ($160). While that was a wee bit out of my budget, I was smitten by the classic wedge salad ($17) and the alder wood smoked prime rib ($64/10 ounces). On the Crossbuck Brewing menu, the fish and chips ($19) also hit the spot. And although it’s generally all about the beef at a place like this, the sides — from heavenly mashed potatoes to charred, slightly spicy broccoli — can hold their own. I’m also a sucker for a warm cookie (and hate bananas), and loved the butterscotch oatmeal hearth oven cookie ($10), served in a tiny cast iron skillet with a scoop of vanilla melting over top.

Overall, despite the casual feeling of Crossbuck, the entire building is giving date night vibes, right down to sharing that cast iron skillet cookie.

Clarification: Due to unclear information on the source’s website, a previous version of this story misidentified Crossbuck Brewing/Walla Walla Steak Co. as being owned by Fire and Vine Hospitality. It is owned by Denim Hospitality, but is in the Revelers Club loyalty program with other Fire and Vine Hospitality restaurants.