A whirlwind love story brings a sip-worthy wine shop to quaint Orcas Island.

Doe Bay Wine Co. sits at the heart of Eastsound, tucked behind Monkey Puzzle and Clever Cow Creamery. Most people walk past the unassuming shop without even realizing it’s there, let alone have a clue of the unpretentious wine expertise and price-friendly selection that lives inside. But like the whirlwind love story of the shop’s founders, this quaint libation destination has a knack for drawing you in and bringing you back for more.

A Whirlwind Love Story

Cole and Stephanie Sisson

Cole and Stephanie Sisson met at a food and wine festival. The rendezvoused at a spontaneous Oaxaca, Mexico weekend getaway seven months later. Within four days of their sun-filled vacation, the couple was engaged. “We called our families to tell them. Stephanie was on the phone with her mother and I was sweating bullets. They thought it was a bit crazy what we were doing,” Cole told me as we wound our way around Orcas Island.

Absolutely crazy? Maybe. Absolutely the right call? Definitely To see Cole’s face light up when he talks about Stephanie is enough to make anyone weak in the knees.

Moving Back Home

An Orcas Island native, Cole didn’t plan to move back to his hometown. The couple simply wanted to get out of the city. “We visited other islands, looking for a similar feel that would still allow us to work in Seattle. But everywhere we went, I just kept thinking – this is no Orcas,” said Cole.

Combining their more than 20 years of wine experience, the couple moved to Orcas to share their love of magic, mezcal, and merry-making at Doe Bay Wine Co. The shop features a carefully curated selection of great pours, but what truly makes this place a gem is their focus on education and accessibility.

Unpretentious Wine Expertise

Cole sports a high-brow wine background. He is a former sommelier at Seattle’s RN74 and Michael Mina’s Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. Stephanie has spent a substantial amount of time working in wine importation and distribution. They have the wine chops to talk Brunellos from Italy and Domaine de Montille’s exquisite French burgundies.

Yet, they also have the down-home approachability to relish everyday pours. The couple has even taken their own foray into winemaking – the Orcas Project.

Orcas Project Wine Label

Collaborating with Pacific Northwest winemakers and vineyards, the Sissons are creating limited production wines. Each bottle features labels (like the one above!) designed by Orcas Island artists. They are available at the wine shop, online, and in select restaurants around the Puget Sound.

Wine Tastings Worthy Perfect for an ‘Island Night Out’

‘Island life’ is a simple life. The pace is slow, the beauty plentiful, and the nighttime activities sparse. Luckily, there’s nothing sparse about the tasting flights at Doe Bay Wine Co.

Sunday through Thursday, now through September 30th, the 450-square-foot wine shop will host up to 12 guests. The 45-minute ‘Wine Experience’ will include several different pours and a few nibbles (such as cheese, almonds or olives).

Cole explained:

The theme will change nightly. We’ll focus on regions like Southern Italy or the Pacific Northwest. But then we’ll sort of see where the evening takes us based on questions and interests. This is really all about introducing people to wine and exploring it together.

Cole was in the midst of leading a ‘Wine Experience’ preview for several folks from the island. Throughout the session he shared a mix of his own story and expertise. This was an event to remember – the kind evening activity perfect for preluding dinner at Rosario Resort or Hogstone.

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