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Maison de Padgett Winery

David Padgett of Maison de Padgett and Horizon's Edge Wineries

When David Padgett’s wife objected to his spending 10 years in chiropractic college, he bought a vineyard and winery instead in the heart of the Rattlesnake Hills close to Zillah.  That was in 1999, and the winery-vineyard was Horizon’s Edge started in 1984 by Tom Campbell.   The 16-acre vineyard was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Canelli, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and, eventually, Merlot.  The winery and vineyard came with 6 months of training from Tom in winemaking and grape growing.  Nearly 15 years later David decided to build a second winery facility that could accommodate events as well as wine tasting.  He found the perfect corner lot for what became Maison de Padgett, which is one of the most stunningly beautiful winery sites in WA state.   With nearly an acre of European gardens and views of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, the spacious facility can accommodate up to 400+ guests.   

David specializes in dessert wines, including late harvest, ice, and port wines.  He is probably best known for his port style wines, which come in flavors such as peach, coffee, vanilla, chocolate, blackberry, and raspberry.  They are delectable desserts in a bottle.   The wine names and labels are as memorable as the flavors.  A typical bottle lineup displays funky monkeys, singing toads, unzipped dresses, smoking guns, bite me pleas, and more.  All in an effort to make wine tasting a delicious and fun experience.   David is also known for unique wines, such as the “Unzipped” white Pinot Noir and a popular “Timeless” late harvest, which is very white and clear, but made with a blend of Sangiovese and Gewürztraminer grapes.  Maison de Padgett and Horizon’s Edge wineries are about 5 minutes apart by car, and perfect destinations for spring and summer sipping.     

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Peter Miller Books

Peter Miller of Peter Miller Books

Peter Miller is the owner of Peter Miller Books, an iconic Seattle bookshop nestled along Post Alley in Pioneer Square.  The shop specializes in books and supplies to do with architecture and design, but you will also find an array of unique items for just about any room in your house, especially the kitchen or study.  Peter can talk engagingly about an amazing spectrum of things, including food and wine.  In fact, one of the most special things about his shop has to do with food.  He and his staff prepare and eat lunch together in the shop nearly every working day.  To help others transform the workplace lunch into a social experience that revives them for the afternoon, Peter has written a cookbook:  Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Mid-day Meal.  He has also written a dinner cookbook – Five Ways to Cook Asparagus:  The Art and Practice of Making Dinner – for working people who want to integrate healthy cooking into their lives as regularly and efficiently as possible. 

Peter’s cookbooks are about much more than food.  They are a call to action, asking us to slow down, to take back part of the day and make it personal and pleasurable, and to combat distance from each other and from our food.  Peter is also a strong advocate for certain types of wine and spirits.  He favors red wines of grace and humor as opposed to those that are knee-buckling, whites like rain off the roof, and aperitifs, which he thinks have never caught on as they should in the U.S.  Listen to this interview and read his books if you want to make lunch a “moment of a little care and community,” and dinner a pleasure to cook and eat, even when you need to improvise and make do, because you haven’t had much time to plan or shop.  

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The Walls Vineyards & Winery

Ali Mayfield of The Walls Vineyards

After making kit wine in an Indiana closet, Ali Mayfield left her UPS job and headed for West Coast wine country.  A meeting with Stan Clarke convinced her that Walla Walla Community College was the ideal place to study winemaking.    The hands-on education at the college, together with internships and jobs at Corliss, Long Shadows, and the Foundry wineries, provided her with an excellent foundation for launching her own wines.  It was her Chardonnay that first intrigued Seattle attorney Mike Martin, who was looking to invest in a winery project and to contribute to the Walla Walla community.  Ali shared a business plan, they talked wine over lunches and emails, and The Walls was born, with a first vintage in 2014. 

Creativity characterizes every aspect of The Walls, from branding, to winemaking, to distributing.  The name doubles for the WA state penitentiary down the street, nicknamed both “The Walls” and “Concrete Mama,” rooting the new winery in a local landmark and local history.  Another key to Walls branding is the instantly likeable cartoon character Stanley Groovy, created by New Yorker cartoonist Joe Dator.  Stanley can be seen throughout the winery and on wine labels interacting with walls in amusing ways.  But no amount of unique branding substitutes for wine quality, and there is plenty of that in every Walls bottle.  You can taste for yourself at the spacious, recently renovated tasting room/winemaking facility, or at the new Passatempo Taverna, also owned by Mike and featuring creative cocktails, Italian food, and plenty of wines, including many Walls labels.  Find out much more about all of the above in this interview.   

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Long Shadows Wineries & Vineyards

Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows Distinguished Wineries and Vineyards

Long Shadows Named 2018 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest

At Long Shadows Wineries and Vineyards, old and new worlds meet in WA state to produce amazing wines.  Distinguished winemakers from France, Italy, Germany, Australia, and California come to Long Shadows to express our Washington terroir with their special winemaking styles.  The on-site winemaker who makes it all happen is Gilles Nicault, named winemaker of the year in 2016 by Seattle Magazine.  Originally from France’s renowned Rhone wine region, he fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and has called Walla Walla home since the mid-1990s.  After working with Rick Small at Woodward Canyon, Gilles was hired as Director of Winemaking for Long Shadows when Allen Shoup started the winery in 2003.   

Gilles is in some ways like an actor who goes in and out of different personas, in this case winemaker personas.  He makes six wines to the specifications of other winemakers:  Pedestal Merlot Bordeaux blend (Michel Rolland), Pirouette Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux blend (Philippe Melka), Feather Cabernet Sauvignon (Randy Dunn), Sequel Syrah (John Duval), Saggi super Tuscan blend (Folonari family), and Poet’s Leap Riesling (Armin Diel).  But he also makes his own wines, in particular the Chester-Kidder Long Shadows wine that blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with a touch of Petit Verdot.  In this interview, Gilles talks about why he considers his position at Long Shadows to be the dream job, the different winemaking styles featured in Long Shadows wines, Long Shadows’ second label Nine Hats, particularly the new Nine Hats tasting room and Nine Pies Pizzeria that recently opened in SODO in South Seattle, and much more.  

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Bonair Winery & Vineyards

Gail and Shirley Puryear of Bonair Winery and Vineyards

After falling in love with each other and with wine while studying abroad in Chile, Gail and Shirley Puryear settled in CA where he worked as an educator and she as a social worker.  They dabbled in wine making and then finally returned in 1979 to Washington state for an education job, determined to grow grapes and make wine in their spare time.  With a post-hole digger and a lot of hard labor, they planted their first vines among the Rattlesnake Hills in 1980 when there was only one winery in the area.  Today they farm 35 acres composed of two vineyards:  the original Chateau Puryear Vineyard and the Morrison Vineyard, the oldest vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA (planted 1968), which the Puryears purchased in 2001.  

Bonair Winery and Vineyards is today one of the most enchanting wine tasting destinations in the state.  With house and winery architecture reminiscent of England, Spain and southern France, the site offers a European feel with pond-side seating and stunning mountain views.  A short walk through vines ends at the tasting room where visitors can sample award winning and very affordable wines, especially Riesling, dry Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Bordeaux style reds, and red and white port.  If you’re looking for great everyday wines for $15 or less, you will find a nice selection here.  

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The Social Sip

Brooke Huffman of The Social Sip & Fletcher Bay Winery

Marketing maven Brooke Huffman wears many hats in our WA wine industry.  Most importantly for winemakers and wineries, she is founder and owner of The Social Sip – a business that takes expert care of marketing needs for wineries.  If you need assistance with social media marketing, website and graphic design, blogs, a newsletter, photos, label design, search engine optimization, or event planning, The Social Sip is eager to meet your needs.  In this interview, Brooke discusses key marketing strategies and social media platforms for wineries.  Brooke understands the needs of wineries very well, as she is co-owner of Fletcher Bay Winery, a Bainbridge Island winery focusing on full-bodied red wines as well as fruit wines.

A resident of Bainbridge Island, Brooke is also the Executive Director of the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island.  In this interview, she highlights how Bainbridge Island has become a wine tasting destination, especially with its not-to-miss “Wine on the Rock” events four times each year.  These events pair food and wine, an activity that Brooke loves as well.  She has written about food and wine pairing tips as wine writer for Westsound Home and Garden Magazine, and shares some pairing advice here in her interview.    As if all these hats weren’t enough, Brooke is also a member of the Washington State Wine Commission Board of Directors. 

The Social Sip - https://www.thesocialsip.org/

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Kiona Vineyards and Winery

John and Scott Williams of Kiona Vineyards and Winery

In 1972, Red Mountain offered farmers plenty of sagebrush and rattlesnakes, but no water, electricity, roads, or fellow residents.   This desert is where metallurgists John Williams and Jim Holmes decided to plant their vineyard.  They paid $200 an acre, and planted varietals such as Riesling, Lemberger and Chenin Blanc on ten of the 87 acres they purchased.  The necessary power line cost $25,000 – the price of a house back then -- so they lured others to the area to plant vines in order to share the cost.  Scott calls it a classic Huckleberry Finn “come-help-me-paint-my-fence” strategy.  People thought they were crazy, but soon other folks making wine in the state were talking about John’s and Jim’s grapes.  It was lucky for them that water was scarce on Red Mountain so they couldn’t overwater, an irrigation mistake confirmed years later by careful research.  

Today Kiona Vineyards and Winery includes 3 estate vineyards on 260 acres, and they sell to roughly 40 wineries.  A key thing they’ve learned since the early 70s is that you can’t farm from the seat of a pickup.  You need to have your feet on the ground and live where you farm.  In Scott’s words, “The best fertilizer is your footprint.”  Today they make at least 20 wines under three different labels, including 5,000 cases of estate Lemberger, three different styles of Chenin Blanc, Bordeaux blends that include Carmenere, to mention just a few.  Listen here to learn about why Lemberger has been so successful at Kiona, why Chenin Blanc makes an ideal ice wine, the virtues of vertical blending, what likely lies ahead for Red Mountain, and much more.  

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Hightower Cellars

Tim & Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars

A special book and alcoholic beverage law are responsible for getting Kelly and Tim Hightower interested in wine.  While carpooling between Columbia Winery and downtown Seattle, they hatched a business plan for Hightower Cellars, which began in a Woodinville Warehouse in 1997.  On this 20th anniversary they reflect back with no regrets and many awards for their red wines.  Red Mountain grapes were their choice of fruit from the beginning, and in 2002 they persuaded some original residents of the area to sell them 15 acres of ideal vineyard land.  Much to their surprise, they left Seattle behind and settled into a life of farming.

The original winery plan included one Cabernet wine.  Twenty years later, Tim and Kelly produce a variety of mostly Bordeaux varietal wines under two labels:  Hightower and Murray.  They share a winemaking philosophy that can be summed up by their motto “handpicked—handsorted—handmade.”  Although they source mainly from their estate vines for the Hightower wines, they also produce a Merlot from Pepperbridge Vineyards and most recently obtained some fruit from Red Willow Vineyards.  They’re committed to sustainable farming methods and building principles, as you can see from their very unique tasting room construction.  In this interview they reflect on their 20 years in the industry as a husband-wife team.

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Whidbey Island Winery

Greg Osenbach of Whidbey Island Winery

Greg Osenbach is an engineer turned winemaker, who left his north Seattle home to grow grapes and make wine on Whidbey Island.  In 1986 when he planted his first vines on the south end of the island, no one else was growing grapes on Whidbey.  He talked with one or two other Western WA winemakers before planting his vineyard to Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine, and Madeleine Sylvaner, the three varietals that still make up his estate vines today.  His Whidbey Island Winery tasting room opened in 1992, and he sold out of his first vintage of 400 cases in 6 weeks.  Greg makes 3,500 cases today, and Whidbey Island is a destination venue for sippers, with 7 wine tasting rooms and several distilleries.  

During harvest time, Greg spends a lot of time trucking fruit over the mountains, as 75% of the grapes he uses in his wines come from Eastern WA.  He’s partial to Italian red varietals, especially sangiovese, which is his flagship red wine.  A number of other Italian varietals appear on his wine list, including Primitivo, Dolcetto, and a Barbera Port.  His flagship white is the Island White, a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Sylvaner, with a touch of Riesling and Chenin Blanc.  This wine is a customer favorite that appeals to a wide range of palates.  In this interview he talks of his many diverse wines, the virtues of Whidbey Island as a weekend destination getaway, changes in the industry since the mid 80s when he planted his first vines, and much more.

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Spoiled Dog Winery

Karen & Jake Krug of Spoiled Dog Winery

After alternating between homes in Colorado and overseas, Karen and Jack Krug decided to settle on Whidbey Island so they could grow pinot noir.  They had spent time sailing around Washington’s islands and believed Whidbey to have the perfect growing season and rainfall patterns for superb pinot.  In 2003 they purchased 25 acres and started planting, producing the first "Spoiled Dog" wines in 2007.  With a copyrighted last name they couldn’t use for their winery, they turned to their very spoiled dogs, who welcome visitors and inspire an annual spoiled dog contest for special pets from around the world.  Spoiled Dog Winery is a working farm and vineyard in a stunningly beautiful setting that’s a destination place for memorable wines, farm tours, and winemaker dinners in the vineyard. 

Although Karen and son Jake specialize in both new and old world style pinot noir, they also make many other wines sourced mostly from grapes in eastern WA.  Their Deception blend named after the island pass is a Bordeaux blend, and they also make a malbec and  a malbec port, the latter fortified with their own wines distilled down the road.  The “pooch wine” is not to be missed --  house wine on tap that is excellent, inexpensive, and sold in growlers.  Taking advantage of the 100 year old orchards on the farm, they also make an apple and pear wine that is 85% apple and 15% pear.  Listen here to learn more about pinot noir clones, some advantages of growing pinot on American rootstock here in Washington, farm to table wine dinners that help local non profits, benefits of malbec for port, and much more.

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Chris Daniel Winery

Mike & Chris Stewart of Chris Daniel Winery

Chris Stewart and his father Mike say it was the combination of smoking Cuban cigars and sipping tempranillo on a Spanish beach that convinced them to open a winery on their home property near Quincy, WA.   Mike had years of experience as a vineyard and orchard consultant and Chris had a winemaking degree from WSU, as well as experience in the wine worlds of Chile and Napa.  In fact, Chris is now a winemaker both in Napa and here in WA at the new family-run Chris Daniel Winery.  Tasting room doors opened in April 2017, just a few miles off of I-90 on the Soap Lake road.  The facility was once an indoor pool, but is now filled with sand and covered with flooring and comfortable furniture to flop in while sipping Chris’s fabulous, mostly single-varietal wines.

The family property is in a climate zone too cold for vines, so grapes are sourced from vineyards Mike works closely with in the Wahluke and Royal Slope areas.  Chris and Mike plan to keep production low at 1000 cases in order to ensure quality, but they’ll be adding some new varietals to their line-up, including petite sirah and petit verdot.  In this interview they discuss key aspects of their winemaking process, such as fermenting uncrushed grapes, fermenting red wines in barrels with heads removed, barrel fermenting all their wines red and white, and much more. What you won't hear in the interview is why the clockworks on the label are fixed at 10:23 - the month and day Chris was born.

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Hedges, New Generation

Christophe Hedges and Sarah Hedges Goedhart

The family nature of Hedges Family Estate continues into a second generation with siblings Christophe Hedges and Sarah Hedges Goedhart at the helm.  Though they work closely together from offices 25 feet apart, they have very distinct roles.  Sarah is director of fermentations and Christophe is general manager and in charge of sales.  They say their sibling rivalry is healthy, in that it’s grounded in mutual respect and results in the two challenging and inspiring each other.  Sarah and Christophe have plans to increase the number of biodynamic vineyards and wines, and to add a bakery and perhaps an eatery to the estate facilities.  But one thing at Hedges will not change with this new generation:  an emphasis on the family’s Red Mountain vineyard property and the importance of people visiting the estate site where their finest wines are grown.

Hedges Family Estate is Demeter Certified Biodynamic for both its farming and winemaking practices.  It is a leader in WA state in biodynamic winegrowing, and Christophe and Sarah explain in this interview what this means for their vineyards and wines.  Their premier wine La Haute Cuvée is a biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon and they plan to produce a biodynamic Syrah within the next 2 or 3 years.  Their estate wine is a blend of grapes from all five of their vineyards, and thus contains Bordeaux and Rhone varietals.  They also produce non-estate wines such as their CMS line that are very affordable and meant for everyday sipping.  Listen to this interview to learn more about the differences between organic and biodynamic winegrowing, what biodynamic practices mean for the wine in your glass, what lies ahead for Hedges Family Estate, and much more.

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Bainbridge Vineyards

Gerard Bentryn

When the U.S. Army sent Gerard Bentryn to Europe, German caving club members introduced him and his wife JoAnn to the pleasures of wine drinking.  They fell in love with cool climate grape varietals and vineyard landscapes.  Years later after working as a water resource planner, Gerard and JoAnn pursued their dream of planting a vineyard and making estate wines.  They chose Bainbridge Island and in 1977 were the first to plant vitis vinifera on the island.  They were true pioneers, experimenting one row at a time to see which varietals would thrive in the island’s maritime climate.  Some of those varietals such as siegerrebe were new to the U.S., and thus the Bentryns had to get a Plant Importation Permit in order to grow them.  

On this 40th anniversary of Bainbridge Vineyards (formerly Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery), Gerard and JoAnn can look back on a long list of accomplishments.  One of them is the Puget Sound AVA, which Gerard was instrumental in creating in 1995.  They also were winegrowers long before anyone used the term in WA state, always believing that winegrowing was the key to the meaning of life.  For Gerard, fruit must come up from the earth through the grower/winemaker to the bottle and glass, ensuring that wine is “time and place in a bottle”.   For forty years, the winery has made only estate wines.  Regarding the Puget Sound AVA, Gerard’s dream is that one day the region will have 20 to 30 estate wineries growing wines “from fields you can see and hands you can shake”. 

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Leonetti Cellar

Gary Figgins of Leonetti Cellar

Gary Figgins has been called the “father of the Walla Walla Valley wine industry,” and with good reason.  He and his wife founded the first commercial winery in Walla Walla in 1977, his first red release in 1981 was voted best Cabernet in the nation, and this year he and his family celebrate 40 years of making world-class wine.  Since 1984 the winery count in Walla Walla has jumped dramatically from 4 to roughly 150, and the downtown is crowded with tourists instead of tumbleweeds.  A recent article on the top 26 places to retire in the U.S. includes Walla Walla on the list.

This transformation would have been hard to imagine in 1974 when Gary and his uncles planted the first acre of grapevines on the Leonetti farm started by his maternal grandparents who came to the U.S. in the early 20th century from the Calabria region of Italy.  Gary grew up from little on drinking watered down family wine, until the mature age of 9 when water was no longer added to his wineglass.  So wine was always part of a meal for Gary, and in 1974 he hoped to make it his primary business as well.  That happened in 1989 when he left his day job as a machinist for Continental Can Company and became a full-time winegrower.   In this interview, he discusses the advantages of blended wines, why Leonetti moved to a closed distribution list, the biggest challenge facing the WA wine industry moving forward, and much more.  

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Women and Wine

Sabrina Lueck, Ashley Trout, and Sheryl Frye

Are there disadvantages for women in the wine industry?  Advantages?  In what ways are women influencing the industry, both as producers and consumers?  These are just a few of the questions we explore in this interview with Sabrina Lueck, Ashley Trout, and Sheryl Frye.  These three wine professionals allow us to examine issues relating to women and wine from different perspectives.  Sabrina is an instructor in Walla Walla Community College’s Viticulture and Enology Program, Ashley currently has two wineries (Vital Wines and March Cellars) and has been in the industry for 18 years, and Sheryl is a second-year student in the Walla Walla Community College Program.  They’re all passionate about the industry, can’t imagine doing anything else, and feel optimistic about the future for women wine professionals. 

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Perennial Vintners

Mike Lempriere of Perennial Vintners

Former software engineer Mike Lempriere received so many compliments on his Seattle basement wine that he decided to become a winegrower.  In 2003 he purchased land and house on Bainbridge Island, planted a vineyard, and Perennial Vintners was born.  He still makes wine in his basement, which houses his winery, lab and tasting room in a forested setting with vineyard in sight.  The vineyard is one of the smallest in the state –maybe the smallest – and the closest one to Seattle.  It’s planted to cool climate varietals that grow well in western Washington, such as Madeleine Angevine, Siegerebbe and Melon de Bourgogne.  Mike grows the only Melon de Bourgogne in the state, as far as he knows.

Many people think it’s too cold and rainy to grow grapes in western Washington, but it’s mostly dry during the key summer months and cool climate varietals such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Madeleine Angevine (Loire Valley), Siegerrebe (Germany), Melon de Bourgogne (Loire Valley), and Müller-Thurgau (Switzerland and Germany) do well in this climate.   These wines tend to be aromatic, crisp, fruity, and high in acid, making them excellent food wines.  For example, Melon de Bourgogne is used in France to make Muscadet wine--a French favorite to have with seafood of all kinds.  Siegerrebe is similar to Gewurztraminer, with wonderful flavors of litchi nuts and spice, making it an ideal wine to pair with Asian food.  Listen to the interview to learn more about these wines, Mike’s style of Syrah and Lemberger, his Verjus for cooking, why his raspberry dessert wine is called Frambelle, and much more.

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Co Dinn Cellars

Co Dinn of Co Dinn Cellars

June 2017 marks a new beginning for winemaker Co Dinn, as his tasting room opens its doors in downtown Sunnyside, WA.  After 17 years of working first as white winemaker and then head winemaker for Hogue Cellars, Co decided to start his own Co Dinn Cellars label in order to focus on single vineyard wines from the Yakima Valley AVA.  His years at Hogue provided him with invaluable knowledge of vineyards and growers across the state, so he was in an ideal position to select the precise vineyards and growers he wanted to work with in making his wines.  There was no question that he would plant his winemaking flag in the Yakima Valley AVA, because of its amazing diversity of temperatures, soils and slopes, as well as its overall moderate climate.

Not only does the town of Sunnyside have historical significance for the wine industry, but Co’s tasting room is also housed in a fascinating historic building.  Built in 1930, the art deco inspired structure was home to the Sunnyside Water Department and the town’s two wells, remnants of which still can be seen in the tasting room basement.   A large crane is also preserved above the tasting room bar.  The venue is unique, the wines superb, but you will never hear the sound of a cork popping as you sip.  After years of doing research on wine bottle closures, Co has decided to use only Stelvin screwcaps for his wines.   Listen to this interview to find out why he abandoned corks, why he uses one-ton bin fermentation, which wine provided an AHA moment that turned him into a winemaker, and much more.

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Thrall & Dodge Winery

Troy and Kim Goodreau

Troy Goodreau was making wine long before he was old enough to drink.  As early as 8th grade, he was helping his father make wine for family consumption, especially during hunting trips.  In the late 1970s he worked for a winery in Sumner, WA, after taking food and wine science classes at Napa Valley College and Washington State University.  Kim has had a long career in social work, but now manages the Thrall and Dodge Tasting Room in Kittitas, and helps out with punch downs and other aspects of the winemaking process.  The two met over thirty years ago, but went their separate ways until recently, when they met again over wine and ended up getting married. 

Opening its doors in 2005, Thrall and Dodge is the oldest commercial winery in the Kittitas Valley, an area that now has a vintners association and at least 6 wineries and a distillery.  The winery is next to a small vineyard that grows mainly Riesling.  Many other varietals for Thrall and Dodge wines come from the Burgess Vineyard in Pasco.  Troy and Kim produce both single varietal wines and blends, including some that are co-fermented.  The lovely new tasting room is in the historic Carrico building in Kittitas, with two spacious suites above that are available for year-round rental.  It’s an ideal place to come for biking, hiking and sipping.  Enjoy this interview and learn about the Kittitas Valley as a growing area, the advantages of co-fermentation, and much more.

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College Cellars

Tim Donahue & Eli Magun

When 50 pounds of zinfandel grapes arrived at the Donahue family home in Colorado, Tim eagerly helped his father to lift the grapes and make the wine.  He was 4 years old and it was the late 70s.  The Colorado winery went commercial in 1995 and Tim went to Australia to study winemaking.  On a chance visit to Walla Walla Community College in 2010, he discovered that the wine program there needed an enology instructor, and he was hired for the position soon after.  Eli Magun worked as a research assistant after graduating from college and eventually got tired of working with mice.  He liked the combination of art and science involved in winemaking, and so left the research job to enroll in Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture Program, where he currently is a student and manages the College Cellars tasting room. 

College Cellars was the first commercial winery in the country that was also part of a two-year educational program in winemaking.  The more accurate word is “winegrowing”, because the applied, trade-based Enology and Viticulture Program at Walla Walla Community College includes “soil to bottle” education. The college owns 4 estate vineyards covering 8 acres and producing 15 different varietals.  With grapes from these vineyards and many others in the Walla Walla Valley, students make 32 different wines each year, many of which win awards.   Today roughly 84% of the program’s graduates end up working in the wine industry, with nearly 60% going into wine production, and others pursuing viticultural or marketing jobs.  Tim and Eli discuss the ideal student for this program, the best beginner varietals, why pinot gris makes a great rosé, and much more.

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Upland Estates Vineyards & Winery

Todd Newhouse

The story of Upland Estates Vineyards and Winery begins with William Bridgman, who started planting wine grapes on Snipes Mountain in 1917.  Grapes from some of those vines are still being used by the Newhouse family to make wine today.  Bridgman opened Upland Winery in 1934 when there was no other commercial winery in Eastern Washington.  He was determined to make European style vinifera wine at a time when most Americans preferred sweet, fortified wines.  Todd considers Bridgman the grandfather of WA wine, because he talked Walter Clore into shifting his research from traditional crops to wine grapes.  After several severe winters that destroyed many vines between 1949 and 1951, Bridgman caved into public demand and shifted from vinifera to sweet, fortified wines, until the winery finally closed in 1972, shortly after Bridgman passed away.

Todd’s grandfather purchased Upland Vineyards in the early 1970s, and his father greatly increased the acreage devoted to wine grapes.  Today the family farms nearly 2,000 acres of fruit, over half the acres planted to wine and table grapes.  They opened Upland Estates Winery in 2007, which makes all vineyard designated wines.  Wine names such as The Mayor, Julian, Teunis, and Inception reflect vineyard and winery history.  Todd was co-creator of the Snipes Mt. AVA and now manages the vineyards that produce at least two dozen different varietals.  In addition to managing the family farm, Todd is also Board Chair of the WA Winegrowers Association and the Wine Grape Growers of America.  Listen to the interview to find out what is unique about the Snipes Mt. AVA, what characterizes a Burgundian Chardonnay, how a Bordeaux style Sauvignon Blanc differs from others, and much more.

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