Paul Bianchi was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, where his family heritage dates back to 1797. He loved the (then) small hamlet, however as the town grew, Paul felt he needed a change. In 1972, he moved to Washington with his first wife, taking a job in Skagit Valley working on a 200-head dairy farm. He relocated to Ballard in 1974 to attend the University of Washington and complete his degree (and subsequent licensing) in landscape architecture while also working in the bakery and restaurant business. Paul has always had a deep love of fine food and wine, and enjoyed the experience he garnered working in the culinary industry.
By 1978, Paul and his family had moved to Bainbridge Island and Paul expanded his design pedigree, becoming a licensed general contractor. It was Bainbridge Island that Paul would call home forever, and in the mid-1980s he built his first house (solo) on the island, while raising his daughter as a single father.
It was in 1998 that a couple of Paul’s friends asked if he’d be interested in making homemade wine. They crushed approximately four barrels, creating what would be their first small vintage. This set Paul on a new path, and as a craftsman, he already had a high bar set for whatever he created—the winemaking process was no different. Over the next several years, Paul learned everything he could about the production of fine wine. He is, for the most part, self-taught, however, he also took advantage of the learning process from other vintners and between 2000 and 2007, Paul fine-tuned his varietals. By the end of that period, his wines had become quite good, and he was encouraged by others to become a professional vintner. It was around that time, that friend and vintner, Hugh Remash, owner of Eagle Harbor Wine Co. asked Paul if he’d be interested in collaborating, but it wasn’t to be. Paul’s construction business was very busy, his daughter was having her first child (which turned out to be twins, Amelia and Wynn), and sadly, his mother passed away. It would be another year before Paul reconsidered the possibility, but reconsider he did.
In 2008, Paul’s first bonded crush was done through Eagle Harbor Wine Co. (at the time, Paul didn’t have the licensing or the facility for a professional crush). His barrels remained at EHWCo. for a year, and were then moved to Paul’s property, where Amelia Wynn Winery resides today. Paul, like many small wineries in Washington State, sources his grapes from vineyards in Eastern Washington. This can be challenging for a small winery, as quite often, the vineyards aren’t interested in selling small quantities. Paul worked tirelessly to build relationships with them, relationships he relishes and appreciates to this day. For more information on the vineyards, click here.
Paul knew he needed to start small and build from there. He enlisted graphic designer, Laurel Wilson to create his labels, and sold his wines through Island Vintners on Winslow Way in downtown Bainbridge Island. In 2018, Paul married the love of his life, designer and artist, Wendy Armstrong. Together, they created the Amelia Wynn Winery and Armstrong Art Gallery on Winslow Way, where they established wine tasting, served small appetizers and displayed Wendy’s art. Wendy now creates all the labels for Amelia Wynn Winery.
However, their dreams were much bigger. They wanted to create an atmosphere where they could enhance direct sales to their customers, create and serve culinary delights to pair with their wines, as well as providing a comfortable and inviting space to enjoy it all. When a larger location on Winslow Way and Ericksen became available, Paul worked tirelessly with the real estate agents to lease the property. Paul and Wendy knew this would be the ideal location for a new tasting room and bistro with a commercial kitchen. Construction on the property began in 2019, and because both Paul and Wendy are experts in design and construction, they completed most of the work themselves along with their sub-contractors.
As a self-proclaimed “foody”, Paul designed a menu showcasing comfort food that leaves you satisfied and satiated, and works beautifully with the wines they serve. He feels that food is an ephemeral art, and getting it right the first time is a challenge, but one he and his staff are up to.
The new Amelia Wynn Winery Bistro opened in December 2019, and like everything, they were shut down due to COVID-19 in March of 2020. This was a gut punch to Paul and Wendy, but they refused to let it keep them down. Like many restaurants, they re-worked their business model to provide take-out and curbside pick-up for both their menu items and their wines (these options are still available today, click here for details). As restriction guidelines changed, Paul and Wendy worked to accommodate their customers, expanding their outdoor dining, adding large umbrellas and heat lamps. More recently, they’ve added a full awning to encompass their outdoor seating, making it comfortable for guests year-round. Under current re-opening guidelines, the Bistro can accommodate up to 12 guests indoors and 22 guests on the patio.
Paul is very proud of his accomplishments as a small winemaker, and his hard work has been rewarded on several levels. Amelia Wynn wines have competed at the highest level and won at some of the largest wine competitions. They have received the Best of Show award, the Best of Class award, and top 25 and top 50 awards per the Seattle Times. In addition, his wines have received numerous golds and double golds. His crowning moment was his 2016 Aragon Grenache, which won Best of Class and Best of Show at the Washington State Wine Competition. To learn more about their awards, click here.
The Amelia Wynn Winery Bistro is open to walk-in customers, or if you prefer, you can make reservations (click here). The winery is open Thursday and Friday from 4:30pm to 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 7:30pm and closed Monday through Wednesday (this is the winter schedule, please visit their website for seasonal changes).
They are located at 390 Winslow Way East, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 / Phone: (206) 451-4965
*Images provided by and used with permission from Paul Bianchi