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. From 2008 to 2010 we increased production from one barrel to five.
...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 made an announcement: “I know what I want to do. I want to be a winemaker. I want to make 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, still attending the wine academy and keeping a night job, 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.