On a week devoted to all things Whidbey Island Grown, it’s hard to imagine a place that more singularly embodies that island spirit than the artsy color-washed enclave perched just off Freeland Avenue. Now celebrating its one-year anniversary, the new tasting room and bistro of Blooms Winery has evolved into a mini capsule of all things Whidbey: wine, art, music and food – lots of food.
One glance at the menu of 5511 Bistro drops any customer into culinary pockets spanning Whidbey from north to south, coves to family farms, and creameries to animal husbandry. Island-grown chef Wayne Carter dishes out edible art from Whidbey favorites: mussels from Penn Cove Shellfish, Angus beef and lamb burgers from 3 Sisters and salads galore from Deep Harvest Farms produce.
Virginia Bloom, who owns Blooms Winery along with her husband and winemaker, Ken, admits to being “salad heavy” as she roams her budding new garden near the entry door, which itself is made by a local woodworker using wine barrels for handles.
Twisting, curling and gently unfurling amongst tangled tomato vines are fledgling herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and mint that make their way inside to the kitchen, along with edible flowers for plate garnishments. Trestled kiwi, persimmons and blueberries are making themselves at home, and a young fig tree gave forth its first fig this year, promptly nibbled by a free-roaming deer.
But the highlight of the garden is the hearty green rhubarb plants, whose leaves are crushed to make the acclaimed Blooms Ambrosia wine. Virginia Bloom reveals they have 60 rhubarb plants at their home that will be replanted on the winery grounds as they enter their second year of “blooming in place.” More plans include building a patio for farm-to-table dinners.
Outdoor art has already staked its claim in the garden and along the walkways and porch. Eye-popping modern sculptures are juxtaposed with the edible earth offerings, and even the handrails, gate and light posts are handmade by local artisans.
Three different gongs make their own kind of music that reverberates throughout the property.
“From inside, we can always tell when people are coming and going because they’re so drawn to the gong,” Bloom said.
Local art covers all the interior walls, with a new artist featured every month. September has highlighted original paintings by Codie Carman and Cheryl Weisz, while October and November launch art shows with paintings by Brandie Follett and weavings from Marcy Johnson. Dozens of small-art creations from Whidbey makers fill shelves and racks near the wine-tasting tables, including jewelry, art prints, cards, soaps, and culinary and wine gadgets.
During Whidbey Island Grown Week, Blooms offers 10-percent discounts on various items and is bringing back its Whidbey Blend wine to accompany award-winning staples such as Blooms Melange, Poetic, Petit Verdot, Ambrosia, RUBY, Blush and CALLA, all made onsite by Ken Bloom. Appetizers created for WIG Week include roasted garlic straight from the fields of Deep Harvest.
The wine and food is pouring and sizzling five days a week, with free family-friendly live music on Fridays evenings and Sundays afternoons and open-mic nights on Thursdays. Starting in October, closings days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the winter months. Blooms Winery will also be participating in the Autumn on Whidbey Wine & Art Tour on Nov. 9 and 10.