Q: How did Latah Creek Wine Cellars begin?
A: Back in 1972, upon my departure from the Air Force, I took a job at Gallo Winery in California. After five years in the microbiology departments at Gallo and Franzia Brothers wineries and three years as an assistant winemaker at Parducci Winery, I was given the opportunity to start a new winery in Washington State. In 1982, after an amazing start in the Washington wine industry, my wife Ellena and I decided to venture off on our own and start Latah Creek. Here we are, 34 years later, with our daughter Natalie, and a very successful winery. Today, Latah Creek is one of only a few second-generation, family owned and operated Washington wineries.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge?
A: Competition. When we moved to Washington State in 1980 and opened what was the first winery in Spokane, there were a total of 18 wineries in the state. When we established Latah Creek in 1982, there were 35 wineries in the state. Today, we have more than 25 winery options in Spokane alone and more than 900 in the state.
Q: Has your focus or wines changed since your beginnings in 1982?
A: Our focus has always been making award-winning wines at affordable everyday prices. This has not swayed one bit. What has changed is our wine lineup. For the first decade, we produced primarily white wines, with an occasional red. This changed in the ‘90s with regular red releases. Today, our wine offerings are near a 50/50 split between red, white and reserve.
Q: What aspect of Latah Creek makes you most proud?
A: Nothing makes us more proud than seeing someone truly enjoy one of our wines. We take a lot of time and effort to make world-class wines, and when someone smiles after taking their first sip, it all becomes worthwhile.
Q: What do you see for the future of winemaking with daughter Natalie?
A: In 2008, we established our Reserve Red program. Since then we have always had three or four Reserve red options—a multi-variety blend and multiple small-lot varietal bottlings. Natalie likes to use these small-lot reds to introduce consumers to unusual, not normally seen wines. She hopes to add varietals like Nebbiolo, Mouvedre and Barbera to the Primitivo, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo wines already bottled. I look forward to continuing the tradition of operating a small single-family business and am comforted in knowing it will be in good hands with Natalie.
Latah Creek Wine Cellars
13030 E. Indiana Ave.