Great wines are born in the vineyard. Innovative minds introduce them to the world. We’d like you to meet some dedicated people in Washington State who are doing big things for Washington wine.
General Manager, Kestrel Vintners
JJ, who has lived in Yakima Valley nearly all his life, got into the wine business when he was quite young and working in a local restaurant. He claims he fell in love with wine from the food side: when he tastes a wine he immediately thinks of which foods might pair best with it. Today, as aboard member of Wine Yakima Valley and general manager at Kestrel, he looks for every opportunity to bring food and wine together in the Yakima Valley. Because he believes that great things happen when chefs, farmers, and vintners put their heads together, Yakima Valley is on its way to being a true culinary and wine destination.
Executive Director, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
Formerly a founding and managing partner of Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla, Duane contends that an organization’s success relies on three C’s: collaboration, communication, and creativity. In the past two years, Duane has applied this theory to his new post. He championed the new Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine event which debuted in June 2013. It’s an annual convergence of winemakers, wine critics, and wine enthusiasts who gather to compare and contrast the growing conditions, wine styles, and wines of Walla Walla to that of another major wine producing region. He also seeks ways to give ongoing support to local nonprofit and government entities, as well as help the efforts of local travel and tour companies.
Owner/Winemaker, J. Bookwalter Winery
John has an uncanny knack for recognizing the needs of his customers and the entire community. He believes that his best customers are those who develop a personal connection through a love of the wines and the overall tasting room experience. J. Bookwalter has two tasting rooms: one in Woodinville and one in Richland. The Woodinville tasting room is urban, with space for private events and a big patio.The Richland tasting room is more of a destination, because John saw the need for one in the quiet town of Richland. He created JBistro to offer more than artisan cheeses and charcuterie. By creating a great local restaurant with imaginative dishes using local ingredients, John has helped the town of Richland become a true destination for visitors anxious to discover the region’s wines.
Managing Partner, Brian Carter Cellars
In the three years this successful Bellevue business-man and managing partner for Brian Carter Cellars was president of Woodinville Wine Country, the association really amped up its marketing efforts. Mike has completed his three-year term, but remains active in helping promote Woodinville wines through many channels: regional TV and radio stations, print media, a dynamic website, and social media. The strategic plan he helped put in place calls for more promotional activities and events, often in cooperation with local organizations, including Celebrate Woodinville, a day-long festival debuting in August 2013.
Executive Chef, Marcus Whitman Hotel’s The Marc
Known for creating innovative wine pairings and unforgettable culinary delights, Chef Antonio seeks out the freshest seasonal ingredients he can find. From there, he and his culinary team concoct delicacies such as heirloom tomato jam, Edwards Farm silver plum jam, and spiced peach mostarda. He believes in working as a partner with the restaurant’s sommelier and manager, who is always discovering new local wines for the list. Antonio is thinking big, with hopes for a larger sustainable kitchen garden, and more house produced products like the prosciutto made from locally raised Berkshire pork.
Owner/Winemaker, Charles Smith Winery
With a list of kudos as long as a barrel thief, Charles is a true artisan and innovator in wine. Besides being an excellent winemaker, he has a keen marketer’s mind. He has launched many labels including House Wine (now owned and advanced by Precept Wine), as well as the popular Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Boom Boom! Syrah, and The Velvet Devil Merlot, all under Charles Smith Wines, which “focuses on the way people generally consume wine today: immediately.” His latest trademark triumph was the brand Vino, for his Vino Pinot Grigio, an approachable, fun, and quality wine for a great price.
Executive Chef, Willows Lodge’s Barking Frog
Chef Bobby is a tireless individual who has practiced his craft at Woodinville’s Barking Frog Restaurant since 2001. In 2008, he was invited to cook at the historic James Beard House in New York City, where he led his culinary team to prepare a five-course meal. Besides heading up one of the Northwest’s most highly regarded restaurants (it features an 18-page wine list), he conducts cooking classes on the second Wednesday of each month, with creative seasonal themes. Other Wednesdays on the calendar are Food and Wine Wednesdays, and a free-to-the-public class held in Fireside Cellars. Bobby has a way of staying ahead of culinary trends. Recently, he launched the Barking Frog Mobile Kitchen to take the Barking Frog to all kinds of events.