There will be more to celebrate on the 4th of July than independence, not that there needs to be more. But it seems fitting that a celebration of the birth of our nation coincides with the opening of a bakery featuring French pastries, after all, France was the one foreign nation that supported us in our struggle for independence.
The French Bakery at the Vineyard is the brainchild of owner LeeAnn Belarde who bought the 5-acre property in the Sammamish Valley with her parents back in 2009. Belarde’s vision is to turn the property into a destination in the venue in the heart of Woodinville’s Tourist District.
“I want it to be a gathering place for the community,” Belarde said. “Where people come to relax and eat fine food and drink coffee with friends and family.”
That is why she named the property The Vineyard, it will eventually be not only the bakery and coffee house, but a farm stand, boutique gift and wine shop and a garden suitable for weddings and other outdoor events.
Already she has Valley View Farms in Zillah, Wash coming to the farm stand this summer. The stand is at the top of the property near the road, right next to the marquee sign.
“I put on that sign that we would open July 4th even before we had all the approval as a hopeful gesture and it worked,” Belarde said.
She currently has county approval to open her French bakery and coffeehouse, but not to prepare the breads and pastries on the property. The problem is her land, is part of unincorporated King County, and zoned for agricultural use which does not zoned to allow a commercial kitchen. Belarde’s property is part of a controversial request by property owners of plan 17 parcels of land along 140th Place NE to be annexed into the City of Woodinville (.
Belarde said she did know when she bought the property (her parents are co-owners) that it was in the agricultural zone, but she did not realized the extent of the limitations. Now, she has her baker prepare all the pastries and breads off site in a commercial kitchen she rents. “It’s not the ideal situation, but no matter what happens with the annexation, I can still bring beautiful pastries and wonderful baguettes to Woodinville,” Belarde said.
This is not the first French bakery Belarde has started. Her first foray into bakery ownerships was in the 1990s when she opened French Pastry in Mercer Island. That led to opening a commercial bakery in Factoria, supplying restaurants in Seattle and on the Eastside with French pastries and bread. In early 2000, she opened Belle Pastry in downtown Bellevue, before returning to her native Alaska to help a friend open a French bakery there.
“When I came back to help my parents and they showed me this property, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for to create that destination spot that I dreamed about,” Belarde said.
The new bakery is in a small space adjacent to the office. From the outside, the building looks like its seen better days, despite Belarde’s attempt to beautify the entry with planting boxes of herbs and flowers. Step inside the entrance and the modern, understated décor rivals that of any of the trendy wine tasting rooms in the area.
“There are still a few things that need to come in, a big mirror to bring the outside in and some original artwork,” Belade said. “But I’ve been concentrating on the food and coffee first.”
She will serve Seattle-based Caffe D’arte Italian roasted coffee, the same brand she served at her previous bakeries.
As for the pastries and bread, Balarde is not a baker herself, but is working with someone she has a long history with at her other bakeries.
“I am so excited to be here in Woodinville bringing this bakery to the community, I really want this to be the gathering place,” she said.
The French Bakery at The Vineyard is at 16507 140th Place NE in Woodinville. Balarde plans to open on the July 4th and be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.