If you could wake up one day and actually have your dream job what would that be? In 2009, my partners Vilnis (Val) and Guna (Inese) Kleper asked me if I would like to create a winery with them.
We started off at a slow growth pace, planting the first of four parts of the vineyard, about 1/4th of an acre with Chardonnay and Mellon grape varietals. The next year we planted another acre and a half with more Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a touch of others just to see what would grow (primarily Pinot Munier, Riesling, Viognier, and Muscatel). Most of my fellow winemakers said that to grow in the northwest is extremely challenging if not impossible, but I always enjoy a good challenge.
After the third year we saw an ad for 2,500 Pinot Noir plants for sale and went out and promptly bought them. We dug up all the plants in the middle of the winter in Sedro Wooley with a back hoe, placed them into 3 gallon black bags, transported them to Federal Way, replanted and waited to see how many had decided to grace us with their clusters. The good news is that we only lost 6 plants in the entire process.
The planting and the harvesting of the plants is only one small part of this dream job of mine. A large portion is creating wines from what mother nature gives me to work with. Not until you taste the grapes do you have a true idea of what may come to fruition for the wine on your table.