Louis Skinner of Betz Family Winery

Since its beginning in 1997, Betz Family Winery has helped to put Washington on the world wine map with its outstanding, highly sought after Bordeaux and Rhone style red wines.  Bob and Cathy Betz started the label with 150 cases, built a state-of-art-winery in 2005, and sold the winery to Steve and Bridgit Griessel in 2011.  Bob stayed on for five years as winemaker, and continues as consulting winemaker and the winery’s patriarch.  In 2016, Louis Skinner was promoted to head winemaker, and works now with Bob, Steve and Bridgit to constantly test and push winegrowing concepts in order to improve wine quality with every vintage.   If there is one word that provides a guiding light at Betz it is improvement, as you’ll see in this interview.

Louis attributes his passion for wine to a wine-obsessed friend on a mission to steer him from gin and tonics to wine.  After the friend organized a tasting of fine wines, Louis was hooked, and found himself lingering in the grocery store wine aisle, instead of passing it by.  He studied winemaking and then interned with Betz in 2010, where he learned the power of data to shape the hundreds of decisions made in any given vintage.  One new decision can revolutionize your winemaking, as Louis explains here with a recent change made at Betz in sulfur dioxide management.  The Betz team is seeking improvement and making decisions not only in the winery, but also in the vineyard, where they inspect vines and collect data once or twice each week throughout the growing season.    Listen here for information on the key role that declassifying barrels plays in raising wine quality, differences between Betz’s 4 single-site syrahs, changes made to the Betz winemaking process in the past several years, and much more.  

Listen to the Interview: