Chatting with Joshua Podawiltz of Sous Sol Winery
At age 41, Joshua Podawiltz has been a familiar face for almost two decades in Seattle’s food and beverage industry. We first met when he was waiting tables at the now defunct Oceanaire Seafood Room restaurant, then we reconnected when he followed Oceanaire’s chef Eric Donnelly to Toulouse Petite. In between there somewhere, he and business partner Derek Shankland, along with three others from Oceanaire, founded Delicatus in Pioneer Square. Now, Podawiltz is once again working with Chef Donnelly at RockCreek Seafood & Spirits, in Fremont, where he spearheaded the wine list and back bar. I caught up with him and discovered that he’s added the title of vintner to his résumé with Sous Sol Winery in Pioneer Square.
For the last seven years, Podawiltz and Shankland have embraced their passion for winemaking as a cottage industry by producing small batches of wine in Shankland’s basement. They first tested their hand at one barrel of Sangiovese using grapes from Alder Ridge Vineyards in the Yakima Valley. That single barrel soon grew to two, giving way to their recent production of 16 barrels under the brand name of Sous Sol Winery (sous sol means basement in French) in their current Pioneer Square location at 309 First Ave. S, Suite A.
Podawiltz assures me that this is not a David and Goliath tale, since he intends to maintain a boutique approach to winemaking. “This been my dream for as long as I can remember but, it’s all about time and money,” says Podawiltz. “Our total partnership consists of five people and a few years from now we’d like to continue to evolve while still staying small. We look at this as our 401K program.” His words are carefully chosen and demonstrate the pride he feels in achieving a personal goal.
Podawiltz has completed the first level of The Court of Master Sommeliers and while he intends to eventually complete his wine studies, he knows that his primary focus will be on the production side. He looks up to Bob Betz, Chris Sparkman and Chris Upchurch—successful local winemakers who are still generous with their knowledge. Soon, perhaps, Podawiltz will join the ranks of those celebrated Washington state vintners, but until then, cheers to dreams becoming a reality.
Currently available at select Seattle restaurants and at the winery, Sous Sol Winery, located at 309 1st Avenue South, Suite ; soussolwinery.com