Sometimes I have to use email to check in with some of our newer wineries with all of our hectic schedules. I threw out a few question this time to Genoa Cellars located up in the Warehouse District.
What did you do before discovering wine?
Derek and I started making wine together in 2004. We were college roommates long ago as engineering students and made beer then and after we moved to Seattle. We still both have day-jobs in technology but developed a passion for wine in the late 1990’s.
Why wine? How did you get started in wine?
In 1997, I met my wife who pulled me into the world of wine. She was an avid winetaster and my eyes were opened to the possibilities. Derek separately started getting into wine at the same time. In 1998, I launched an online Web site that sold winetasting packages and provided winetasting how-to information. In 2003 when I was a Microsoft, a co-worker asked if I’d like to get into winemaking. She was doing it as a hobby and getting fruit through the Boeing Wine Club. She mentored Derek and I for the first couple of years as we continued to make more and more wine in my garage. We also began to connect with winemakers around the state. Coincidentally, Scott Moeller, who is at Novelty Hill- Januik Winery, had written articles for my Web site while he was at UC Davis for Enology. He was also a helpful resource as we ran into challenges in winemaking during our garage days. Alex Manoni from Stomani Cellars also has been an immense help and John Patterson from Patterson Cellars as we started up commercially.
Why did you decide to focus on Super Tuscans?
We started making Sangiovese in 2004. In 2006, we decided to try blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. We we talked about wine, we realized we both loved that style of wine and decided to try it. We later submitted our 2006 “Traveler” to the International Amateur Winemaker’s competition and won Gold. This set our direction.
What does the future look like for Genoa Cellars?
We will continue to focus on Super-Tuscan-style blends. We feel that we are the only winery focused on making the best possible Sangiovese blends in the state. We get great pleasure when someone comes into our tasting room and says “I don’t really like Chianti/Sangiovese”. We say, “you haven’t tried the way we do Sangiovese”. We continue to look for ways to appeal to different palates and add to our portfolio. We are putting more focus on our wine club members. We love to see their passion for our wines and every time they bring in their friends, it makes us feel like we’re on the right track. We are on a mission to show the world how good Washington Sangiovese can be and we’re toying with the idea of a second label in the future that will enable a lower price point that can reach another segment of the market.
Is there anything you would like to tell me?
Our brand is wrapped around Super-Tuscan-style wines and Sailing. We live in the Northwest and we’re surrounded by water. All our blends are named for a sailing related component or phrase. We always tell people “we can’t tell you what you should like – you like what you like”. But we are trying to put together different blends that we will drink regularly and variety can come from the different blends. If I’m in the mood for Syrah, I can have Ketch or possibly even Flying Colors. If I’m in the mood for a Brunello-style Sangiovese, I open up Traveler. If I’m thinking Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Even Keel fits. If Cabernet Sauvignon, Danforth is what we grab for. Watch out for Crosswind (2011, that is), it might set you in a new direction.