“I’ve always had a philosophy in life of trying to manage the amount of waste you produce – and that purchasing power is in your hands.”Ken Dillon, Owner, Footprint Wine Tap
Footprint Wine Tap is Seattle’s first and only sustainable keg wine-on-tap bar and shop, pouring a wide variety of Washington wines from a beautiful copper wall of taps. While tap pours are generally reserved for and associated with beer, Footprint Wine Tap is pioneering an emerging trend in the wine industry – swapping individual bottles for kegs of wine.
“It’s funny to see the expression on people’s faces – they look genuinely surprised or shocked when they walk in,” says Footprint owner Ken Dillon. “But if we think about the old world – France, Italy, Spain – they’ve done keg wine for generations!”
“If we all do just a little bit to educate ourselves and others about and practice how we can reduce our own carbon footprint then the impacts are significant to reducing local and global waste and pollution.”
For those of us who are looking to be more mindful in our consumption habits, keg wine allows us to rest easy: keg wine has a significantly lower carbon footprint, reducing the amount of materials and labor needed to store and transport the wine, recycling for glass and/or what ends up in landfill, AND eliminates the waste all the way down to what’s in or on the bottle itself like the annoying plastic, foils, and labels that wineries use to cover the cork. “We can go deep on the foils on the bottle – they are 100% just for appearance and go directly into the landfill. Those little things add up! Sure, you’re trying to brand something for what the consumer wants – but if you really start talking to people, it’s not what they want.”
Of course, it’s what’s inside the bottle (or keg) that counts. While the thought of kegged wine may conjure images of low-quality brands of boxed wine, some of the best local wineries like Alexandria Nicole, Patterson and Wilridge Winery are offering their more premium wines on tap. Dillon assured me that the quality of wine can in fact be better than your average bottle pour. With each pour from the keg, “you’re getting a quality and consistent pour – no oxidization or waste!”
Footprint Wine Tap goes beyond the wine service in their effort to keep their footprint (pardon the pun) as local as possible. In addition to sourcing local producers of keg wine, they also thoughtfully considered how the the design of their space could establish a social and communal environment. The result is just that – warm, cheerful, and community focused, from the art on the walls, the events they host and the friendly service behind the bar.
“When I first visited Seattle back in 2005, I went to Martin’s Off Madison Piano Bistro. They were known for their local piano bar and jazz scene, and when I first experienced that environment, it was one of the main reasons that I moved here!”
Martin’s Off Madison closed in 2010, and Dillon now seeks to recapture some of the vibe that Martin’s offered Capitol Hill. “I drew a lot of inspiration from Martin’s, and so we’re trying to bring back that element of live music with live piano accompaniment. Seattle is missing that, so we host wine tasting and live piano nights.” (The next one – an “I’m Every Woman” cabaret and sing-a-long is coming up on March 8th!)
“I want to have a space where we can be authentic and a safe place for anyone who walks in. We’re not pretentious – this should be a casual, fun experience or we can geek out on wine if you want.”
First-time Footprint visitors who are wine-curious should opt for the wine flight in order to try a variety, after which I’d recommend selecting a full glass pour of your favorite. On my visit, I let the server select for me, which resulted in a trio of pinot gris, chardonnay and a light rose (I followed the flight with not one, but two more glasses of the pinot gris – it tasted like honey!).
Footprint also offers a small menu of food items that are sourced from local small producers, and organic whenever possible- we opted for the french onion “Fun-Due” and baked brie, both prepared in-house. They also offer a house-made hummus, pesto, seasonal spreads, all of which can be paired with the different wines – just ask the server for suggestions!
Lastly, if you want your favorite vessel of wine to-go, they have a retail shop. Moreover, locals can enjoy their awesome Wine Membership, which saves money, includes access to special promotions and offerings, event invitations, and a selection of curated wine every month!
Sarah Studer is the Assistant Director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington. Her weekly newsletter, Seattle By Sarah connects people to issues they care about so that they can contribute to the health of the Seattle community!
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