Spokane Valley’s family owned and operated winery celebrating 40 exceptional years By Jillian Chandler | Photo By Annie Zasadny Photography
“Forty years. It is truly mind-boggling to think about what has happened in that time,” reflects Mike Conway, owner and winemaker of Latah Creek Wine Cellars. “Ellena and I started a winery—and we’re still enjoying and working at it today. We’ve been blessed with an amazing daughter Natalie and have been able to watch her excel in school and life, get married, give us two remarkable grandkids, and for the past 18 years she has been my winemaking partner. We didn’t know enough back then to even have a dream, but this would have been it.”
Latah Creek Wine Cellars has established itself as a destination winery year-round for both locals and visitors to the Inland Northwest. Established in 1982, Latah Creek Wine Cellars, Washington state’s 35th winery (there are now more than 1,000 across the state), has been pouring excellence into each glass with their affordable, award-winning wines. Joined by their daughter Natalie Barnes, they are continuing that mission four decades later.
“It's hard for me to imagine the 40-year mark, since I am only 39 myself,” smiles Natalie. “I grew up in these walls, climbing stacks of wine in the warehouse playing with Barbie dolls, bottling the wine in the summers with my high school and college friends. I can't imagine my life without the winery in it.”
At Latah Creek, sip wines while visiting with friends and neighbors in the stunning tasting room and gift shop, Ellena’s vision—the perfect gathering place to relax and taste; a space where people can mingle and make friends among fellow wine tasters, while feeling at home. Nearly 20 wines are available for tasting by the glass or bottle, or enjoy six tastes of your choice for just $10! New releases include their 2021 Pinot Gris, with its delightful tropical fruit flavors and aromas, and a vividly crisp and refreshing finish; and the 2021 Orange Moscato, utilizing Orange Muscat grapes to produce a slightly effervescent wine full of orange blossom, honey and creamsicle flavors.
Summertime at the winery is truly an experience worth discovering, with the liveliness of the out-of-town visitors who come in to taste a variety of wines and search out their favorite. In addition, this is the time of the year where Mike and Natalie make their blends, whether it is Mike's Reserve Red blend, Huckleberry d'Latah blend, their newest white blend (A Toast to Best Friends). They then bottle all of their wines by the end of August to prepare for the upcoming harvest.
“Consequently, as we are a working winery, all this wine work is done in the same location as our tasting room, giving the winery the most delicious smells!” affirms Natalie. “Every time a wine is handled, some of those aromas are released. I love arriving in the morning and smelling all the good smells from the day before, ready for another day.”
Natalie, Mike and Ellena celebrated Latah Creek's 40th anniversary this past July with their annual celebration party that featured tastings with food pairings, specials and more!
“As I take a look around and really think about it, I realize how amazing my parents are,” Natalie gleams. “My dad has produced wine so delicious that 40 years later we are still here making the same wine for a wonderfully loyal community, while my mom has worked hard to keep the winery afloat financially through ups and downs in the industry, the economy, and Covid, all while turning our tasting room into a one-of-a-kind gift shop.
“Their tenacity and dedication to staying true to their vision, no matter what other wineries are doing, is an inspiration for me. I can only hope that I can be half as amazing as they are and continue my parents’ legacy.”
Latah Creek Wine Cellars 13030 E. Indiana Ave. Spokane Valley, WA 509.926.0164 LatahCreek.com