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Review: Covington Cellars

Covington Cellars is owned and operated by David and Cindy Lawson, who named the winery after their hometown, Covington, WA. David, the winemaker, and Cindy, the tasting room manager, opened the winery in 2002. I had a really good time tasting their wines, experiencing their winery and hearing the stories Cindy shared during my visit.

Their winery is located north of downtown Woodinville in what appears to be an industrial complex. Their close neighbors include Chatter Creek Winery, Stevens Winery and Ross Andrew Winery, who all suffer equally from a setting that suggests a self-storage facility. Even still, it is clear Covington Cellars has taken strides to convert their garage-like operation into what they describe as a "Tuscan-inspired tasting room".

Whatever Covington Cellars lacks in terms of setting, they make up for it by making you feel welcome and at ease in their winery. In fact, I'll take good old hospitality over a highbrow picturesque winery any day!

The tasting room is spacious and open, with a small bar and other table areas to enjoy your wine. There are even racks of barrels stacked in the adjoining room giving it the feel of a traditional winery. The place was buzzing when I arrived, with about a dozen folks tasting. With no room at the bar, I stood around for a few minutes before Cindy noticed and quickly came out from behind the counter to welcome me.

Now that is service! I've lost count the number of times I had to wait for a space at the bar until being served. It seems at some places the servers are somehow unable to move from behind the counter. Not at Covington Cellars.

On the Saturday I visited, Covington Cellars was pouring tastes of their viognier, semillon, merlot blend and sangiovese wines for $5. The fee is refundable with any wine purchase. I really enjoyed sampling their reasonably priced wines and found them to be well balanced and food friendly. But just as I was enjoying their wines, I was told that the semillon recently won a silver medal and their merlot blend a gold at the Indiana State Fair.

If you've read this blog enough, you know how I feel about winery staff citing points, awards or reviews to somehow add credence or credibility to whatever is in my glass. Granted, I can appreciate folks being excited about any accolade their wine might receive. But the Indiana State Fair? As Alder over at Vinography.com recently stated, "Stop the state fair madness!". I agree - please, please stop - enough said.

Medals aside, with Cindy mingling with folks on all sides of the bar, the place just felt more at ease and welcoming than places I had visited earlier in the day. They even offered BBQ meatballs featuring the homemade, wine infused Cellar Sauce that Cindy has crafted. Suffice it to say, it was a delicious accompaniment to their 2004 Rough House Red, which provides Covington Cellars with a very unique story.

Rough House Red is named after David's reserve unit in the US Navy. David, a veteran of Desert Storm, and his wife, Cindy, are using proceeds from the wine's sales to support organizations that assist families of fallen soldiers. If this isn't going beyond the bottle in one of the most profound ways, then I don't know what is. I was really moved and inspired by their generous effort, especially knowing what a financial struggle running a small winery can be.

I salute David and Cindy of Covington Cellars for making some really good wines and approaching their craft in a manner that truly goes beyond the bottle. I highly recommend you pay them a visit on your next trip to Woodinville Wine Country.


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