Michele Steele was hosting a wine tasting party with a group of girlfriends, when she first heard the idea for what’s now become Issaquah’s only wine shop.
As they sipped and snacked someone blurted, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this for a living?”
As a wine lover, it seemed like a dream. As a sales representative and former product distributor, it seemed possible.
However, Capri Cellars had to be something more than a place customers could grab a unique bottle of wine. It needed to reflect that group of friends who found joy in tasting.
So when Steele opened shop in July, she not only made sure her racks were full of wines that couldn’t be found at local grocers, but also that the store was set up so that dozens could taste flights of wine at a time.
The shop feels like a wine cellar with simple white walls and rustic tables. A chalkboard welcomes guests to write what they liked and didn’t about the wines they’ve tasted.
The cost of the flights vary, depending on the cost of the bottles, and include three 2-ounce pours. Tastings also can be handpicked from a list of about 18 wines.
One ounce red and white tastings are available daily for free.
To aid in the tasting process, the owners also developed a Bites Menu with a variety of snacks to pair with the wine, including charcuterie, cheeses and truffles.
Wine tasting has become a trendy activity, which seems to best attract couples and parties of women, but Steele makes a point to say that it’s not a wine bar. Capri doesn’t sell wine by the glass.
“We want people to come in and experience wine tasting,” she said. “It seems people are starting to get it.”
She plans to start introducing tasting and pairing classes in the next few months.
About 70 percent of Capri’s inventory is local Washington wines. Steele likes to focus on boutique wineries, including the local Passion Vineyards.
When Steele first considered a wine shop, the city already had two. Having grown up in the city and now raising her children there, it had to be Issaquah. So she set the plan aside, until she learned that both of the shops closed within a couple months of each other.
A grand opening this September proved the local interest in wine. She now has 1,500 people on an email list.
“Wine tasting is fun,” she said. “It’s a culture, a culture that especially affluent people want to be a part of.”
Location: 88 Front St. S., Issaquah (near the Front Street Market)
Hours: 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday;
Noon-5:30 p.m., Sunday