Keith Johnson of Devium Wines

The name Devium, Latin for wayward or out of the ordinary, is perfect for Keith Johnson’s latest wine project.  Having lost his own way while working on an engineering degree, he ended up selling wine and being drawn to the winemaking process.  After graduating from Walla Walla Community College’s enology and viticulture program in 2011, he became part of Sleight of Hand Cellars’ winemaking team, and three years later launched his own Devium Wines project with the goal of pushing boundaries and being unique.  His winemaking is rooted in history and tradition, as well as in minimalist, natural winemaking techniques, all explained in this interview.   For Keith, the grapes and vineyard must shine in the wines, whether the bottle holds white Pinot Noir or Mourvedre without any sulphur , and he produces both of these unique wines.  Because of his commitment to early picking, all of his wines are ideal for pairing with food and not too high in alcohol.

Keith is also drawn to unique and special vineyards, such as Weather Eye atop Red Mountain, which he regards as the most exciting new vineyard in Washington state.  Future plans for Devium include a Graciano blend from this vineyard— ”Rioja, meets Rhone, meets Washington”.  He will also release some sparkling wine in 2021, one of several wines that will contain new artist labels by Squire Broel and Jim German.   In this interview with one of Washington’s most unique winemakers, learn about the benefits of foot crushing grapes, eliminating sulfites from wine, spontaneous fermentation, mixing Grenache Blanc with red varietals, very old oak, diverse trellising of vines, drunken conversations, and much more.  

Listen to the Interview: