Birch Bay wine bar now open

Published on Thu, Jul 24, 2008 by Jack Kinter

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Birch Bay wine bar now open

By Jack Kinter

Birch Bay’s newest eatery is an upscale wine and coffee bar and deli that looks as if it’s been plucked from Seattle’s Belltown or Vancouver’s Yaletown.

Called CJ Wijns (the word is Dutch for Wine), it’s at 7714 Birch Bay Drive in the ground floor of Homestead’s Grand Bay Condominium on the Beach.

The name is also a variation on Homestead owners Jim and Caroline Wynstra’s name in the original Dutch language.

Project manager Lisa Guthrie said that the condominium unit opened last labor day and has sold a little over half its 33 units. CJ Wijns occupies a 2,000 square foot retail space at the building’s northwest corner, and features Tully’s Coffee of Seattle and a very complete deli menu as well. Four varieties of clam chowder are available daily in sizes from a cup for $3.49 to a large bucket big enough to feed a family.

There are also plain and toasted sandwiches, a variety of salads and lots of appetizers such as smoked salmon, warm brie and bruschetta.

The interior is a blend of surfaces and is well lit by floor to ceiling windows. A “tidepool” lunch counter runs along one wall with several carved out spaces under the urethane cover that are filled with things from the beach directly in front of the building. Two verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes decorate the top and extol the virtues of drinking wine.

One is verse seven from chapter 9: “Seize life. Eat bread with gusto. Drink wine with a robust heart.”

The wine bar dominates the south half of the space, and has a cellar that looks like a walk-in closet along the back wall. A 14- by 16-foot meeting room lies off to one side. A TV monitor will play an endless loop powerpoint description of a few of the featured premium wines of the day. Jim Wynstra’s son John has used his contacts in the wine industry to generate a cellar that features only the best wines from a given area.

“For example,” Wynstra said, “the Okanogan and Oregon’s Willamette Valley are good at growing pinot noir grapes, so that’s all we’d buy from there.” He said he then asks growers to name their “Titanic list,” that is the five bottles they’d take with them off the Titanic before it sank. Then Wynstra contacts the brands of wine chosen and asks each of the vintners to recommend two varietals from their operation.

Hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week until the liquor license is granted, when they’ll stay open until 10 or 11, Guthrie said. For more information call CJ Wijns at 360/371-2658.