Within moments of ending the call, Craig Leuthold was ready to kick himself. Simon Siegl, a wine-industry consultant, had just let him know about a cool Woodinville space that was about to become available for a tasting room. This was back in August 2018. At the time Leuthold, the co-owner of Maryhill Winery, was already close to signing a lease on a different Woodinville location. So he let Siegl know that he was not interested. But the space Siegl had mentioned was no ordinary site. It was the Hollywood Schoolhouse. The beloved historic landmark in the heart of Woodinville’s premier wine tasting district. Within minutes, Leuthold got back to Siegl to say, “Let’s talk.” There are several exciting new developments on the horizon for Woodinville’s wine tasting scene, which I’ll get to later in this post. But none may be more dramatic than Maryhill’s move into the Hollywood Schoolhouse.

New kids on the block

When it opens in mid-November, Maryhill will occupy two of the building’s three floors. (The public grand opening is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 16–17.) The main-level tasting room will include multiple tasting bars, food service, retail space and plenty of seats. And it will offer live music throughout the week. The top floor is being transformed into a lounge for wine club members. The latter will be rentable for private events, but Maryhill does not plan to host weddings.

Meanwhile, Paterson-based Alexandria Nicole Cellars will continue to operate its tasting room in the building’s bottom floor. And the tasting rooms set in separate buildings on the schoolhouse property will also remain in place. These tenants include Pepper Bridge Winery and J. Bookwalter Wines.

Established in 1999 by Leuthold and his wife, Vicki, Maryhill produces about 80,000 cases a year. They brought current winemaker Richard Batchelor on board in 2009. Their Classic wines, which include their Winemaker’s Red blend, along with viognier, chardonnay, pinot gris and others, are widely available. Each of these is approachable—in style and price. But the Proprietor’s Reserve and Vineyard Series wines are the ones that really impress. The Vineyard Series includes about 30 mostly single-varietal wines produced in lots of 400 cases or less, each sourced from a specific vineyard. And the 18 or so Proprietor’s Reserve varietals and blends are also produced in small lots, ranging from about 300 to 2,500 cases. Craig Leuthold wants Woodinville visitors to “discover the depth and breadth of our portfolio, and not just the seven or eight wines you see at the supermarket.”

A growing presence

Craig and Vicki Leuthold celebrate opening their tasting room in Vancouver, Washington

[Craig and Vicki Leuthold celebrated the opening of their tasting room in Vancouver, Washington, this past April.]

Maryhill welcomes about 75,000 annual visitors at its remote Goldendale winery, about 45 miles east of Hood River. Set on a hill overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, the facility’s tasting room and patio offer stunning views out to Mount Hood. For several years, the Leutholds hosted summer concerts in their 4,000-seat on-site amphitheater. But more recently, they have been in expansion mode, which began with the opening of their first satellite tasting room in Spokane, in 2017.

They opened a second off-site tasting room this past April along the new waterfront promenade in Vancouver, Washington. Food service was a instant hit at the latter. And this prompted the Leutholds to renovate and expand the kitchens at their Spokane and Goldendale tasting rooms this past summer.

The schoolhouse came equipped with a full kitchen in the basement and a second, smaller kitchen upstairs. The core menu at each Maryhill location includes charcuterie boards, hummus plates, salads, Dungeness crab rolls and more. And the Leutholds’ growing emphasis on food service prompted them to rebrand, just a few weeks ago, as Maryhill Winery Tasting Room & Bistro.

A perfect Woodinville wine country pairing

Built in 1912, the Hollywood Schoolhouse has been owned by Jim and Rosemary McAuliffe, along with their six children, since 1977. In 1989, the McAuliffes began hosting weddings. And they completed the expansion that brought the building to its current size in 1994. The schoolhouse quickly established itself as a premier venue, And its popularity has remained strong ever since. But Jim, 83, and Rosemary, a former six-term state senator, began eyeing retirement a couple of years ago. So the family began exploring options to lease out the building.

Obviously, wineries make up a large share of the Hollywood district’s tenant pool. So the McAuliffes asked Siegl to help them search for winery tenants. Siegl formerly served on the Washington Wine Commission and other industry bodies. Now the president of his own consulting firm, his services include helping wineries find tasting room locations. He knows that most wineries limit their satellite tasting rooms to about 1,500–2,000 square feet. But the main and top floors of the schoolhouse offer more than 9,000 square feet. This meant the McAuliffes might have needed to divide the space among multiple tenants.

But Siegl was also familiar with the Leutholds and their success operating large spaces and events. So he reached out to them, back in August 2018. That initial conversation essentially ended with a “thanks but no thanks.” And Siegl figured he was back at square one, in terms of needing to find multiple tenants. But then Leuthold called him back a few minutes later to express his interest.

Passing the torch

Rosemary McAuliffe welcomes Maryhill's move into Woodinville's Hollywood Schoolhouse

By all accounts, the lease negotiations proceeded smoothly. “Craig and Vicki are really good people,” says Rosemary McAuliffe (above). “I am happy it [the schoolhouse] is going to someone who will take good care of it and treat it well.”

The McAuliffes, meanwhile, are embracing their new chapter. Jim has been tending to his nearly 1-acre home garden. And he donates the fruit and vegetables he grows to the local senior center and food bank. Meanwhile, just a year after retiring from the state senate, in 2017, Rosemary was elected to the Bothell City Council last year. She also organized downtown Bothell’s new farmer’s market. And she has been canvassing Bothell–area neighborhoods this fall to generate support for a levy to raise funds for the Northshore Senior Center.

The winter of our content

A rendering of DeLille's new Woodinville tasting room

As I mentioned above, there are a number of other changes coming to the Woodinville area’s wine scene. Most notably, the makeover of the former Redhook brewery, about a half mile west of the schoolhouse, is nearly complete. The complex now has a new name, Hollywood Station. DeLille Cellars and Sparkman Cellars are already producing wine in the former brewery’s tank room and bottling hall, respectively. When renovations are complete, each will operate a sleek new tasting room on-site. DeLille plans to open its new tasting room (rendering above) in time for its annual Drink D2 Day celebration, on December 2. Sparkman is also targeting a late fall opening for its new tasting room. (Teatro ZinZanni moved to the site about a year ago.)

Meanwhile, five wineries, including JM Cellars, Gorman Winery and Guardian Cellars, along with J.P. Trodden distillery, are settling into their new production spaces at The Vault, in Maltby. The all-new facility, about 5 miles north of Woodinville’s Warehouse district, is equipped with state-of-the-art production equipment—and gives each tenant room to grow. J.P. Trodden and Guardian have already opened on-site tasting rooms, with the others expected to do so soon. The new space is also less than a half mile away from Flower World, one of the most-epic commercial nursery/garden centers there is.

[Vancouver grand opening photo by Laree Weaver; rendering courtesy of DeLille Cellars and Hinge Studio.]