How Structure Cellars came to be:
...as told by the winemaker's wife, Brandee:
Brian was actually a vodka guy when when we met. He had no idea what magic I was sharing with him on his birthday 2003, when I opened my coveted bottle of 1997 DeLille D2. I remember his request for vodka being just a little heartbreaking at the time.
Brian had been in the Fine Dining Restaurant industry for two decades. While he loved what he was doing, he wanted more. In 2007 after winning a wine sales contest, Brian was invited to visit Walter Dacon Cellars in Shelton, WA. That is when his interest in winemaking really sparked. Inspired by the process and discovering new wines by the day, Brian came home and stated “I know what I want to do. I want to be a winemaker. I want to make really, really good wine.”
It should have come as no surprise a few weeks later when I found him registering for wine making classes at Northwest Wine Academy. Like everything he does, he committed 110%. Within a year, he got his first taste of working at a winery with Darby Winery in Woodinville. It was 2008, Brian had been consumed every extra minute with this crazy wine idea, but somehow I was still shocked when I saw that first 1000 pounds of grapes that was (hopefully) to become wine. This was real. He WAS going to be a winemaker.
That first barrel, lovingly made in a friend's garage was like a new baby. He checked on it constantly, smelled it a lot, and worried about it nonstop. Somehow through all of the neurosis, this 100% Destiny Ridge Syrah turned out better than we could have ever imagined.
The next few years flew by as Brian gained more knowledge and advanced from volunteer status, to official "Cellar Rat" with Leroy Radford at Baer Winery. Finally in 2010 he did a full internship with Chris Sparkman at Sparkman Cellars. In 2009, he made 2 barrels, increasing production to 5 barrels in 2010.
In 2011, we finally made some big commitments! One: Let's get married! And because that wasn't enough in our glass, we decided to submit paperwork to become a real winery.
We had just bought our first home, a real “fixer upper” in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. I remember one particular day when Brian had been working all day at his restaurant job, and I had been working alone in our house. My university education in Art and Architecture afforded me just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and trigger a serious worrisome frenzy. Our "fixer upper", had become a "tear down to studs" situation, and I wondered if we had made a big mistake. When Brian arrived home that evening, I was in the midst of a serious meltdown. It was then that Brian suggested a break. We sat down on the floor among the sawdust and sheetrock and opened a bottle of the 2008 Syrah (the first wine he ever made). The flood gates opened and I spewed out a string of the day’s house misadventures while gulping down my tumbler of wine. Brian listened, nodded and showed genuine concern. When he finally did speak he said, “you know, this house is a lot like this wine, it's got good bones…great structure”. Our house may have been falling down, but at least I could see the ironic humor of the situation! This was truly the beginning of STRUCTURE CELLARS.
Finally a married couple, our first winery was our basement converted into a fermentation space and a barrel room. Often it felt like half the time was spent winemaking, and the other half was spent moving things around to have the space to make wine! If there is one thing that I can say for sure it is that when my sweet husband gets his mind stuck on something - that is it. His mind and passion for winemaking just grew with every single obstacle.
On December 13, 2014 a huge and amazing part of our dream (with a LOT of work) fell into place. We have a new winery and tasting room!
Now, as we pour ourselves into each vintage, we count ourselves lucky every single day.
We are located just south of the stadiums in Seattle at: 3849 1st Ave S. Seattle WA 98134