The long rows of gleaming bottles that stretch out towards the back of Pete’s Wine Shop is impressive, with shelves decorated with bright tags listing wallet-friendly prices on quality wines. First-time visitors to the store are often taken aback by the wide selection of wine and beer in the unassuming corner space in Bellevue Plaza, an older retail center nestled between all the new buildings in Downtown Bellevue. Pete’s has been a go-to wine resource for 20 years, proving that — like a good wine — time, experience, and good character can make something truly exceptional.
Opening its doors in 1990, Pete’s Wine Shop in Bellevue was the Eastside counterpart to the Seattle store on Lake Union, which opened in 1971. Pete’s in Bellevue took over a space that was previously a restaurant, clearing out all the booths and dividers to make a spacious shopping experience. Jan Hunsley recalls a customer coming in and remembering the previous life of the store as a restaurant, pointing out where the dance floor used to be. Jan knows the history of Pete’s Wine Shop well, as before taking over as manager in April of this year, she had worked at this location for over 12 years, watching the shelves expand in wine choices and seeing the local love for this store remain the same as the city developed and grew around it.
What has kept Pete’s Wine Shop such a successful business is its discount pricing on wines of all types, from the everyday favorites to special occasion bottles. Their markups tend to be lower than grocery stores and wine boutiques, and their large selection of wine, all bought directly from the winemakers, experience a high turnover rate. They also have a sizeable beer selection, offering wide-market brands as well as rare, limited edition bottles from microbreweries. The most notable thing about Pete’s is the staff itself, a knowledgeable group resource of wine information, with most of the people previously being loyal customers before eventually working at the store. They happily talk shop with fellow wine enthusiasts, as they would share recommendations with a first-time visitor who might feel overwhelmed by all the choices. The shopping experience is meant to be relaxed and un-fussy –- it really is all about the wine and trying to find the best fit for a person’s tastes.
Wandering the rows of bottles is like a trip around the world. Over 12 countries are represented in Pete’s collection, including wines from classic locales like Italy and France, as well as countries gaining momentum in the world of wine production like New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, and Austria.
For those wanting to uncork something local, Pete’s has an equally comprehensive selection of Washington wines to highlight the region’s own growing profile as a notable wine producer. Starting this summer, Pete’s will be having periodic weekday tasting events with a local focus. The first event on July 1st, from 4:30pm – 7:30pm will focus on Woodinville wineries, spotlighting selections from Pomum, Stevens, and Darby. Along with these new summer tasting events, Pete’s continues to have its regular weekend tastings from 3pm – 7pm every Saturday at their tasting bar towards the back of the store.
Pete’s Wine Shop
134 105th NE Bellevue, WA 98004
Mon. – Fri. 10am – 8pm, Sat. 10am – 7pm, Sun. 11am – 5pm