Brian Carter Cellars

Winemaker/Managing Partner – Brian Carter

What is your/your family’s story around your winery? How did you first become involved in the wine industry and what has your trajectory looked like?
Our first wine was a Bordeaux-style blend made from the 1997 vintage. We started out wanting to do something a little different, so we became the first winery in Washington dedicated to producing 100% blends. I really enjoy the blending process because there is such an artfulness to putting the finished wine together, as opposed to my scientific origins in producing wine.  While we do produce an occasional single-vineyard, single-varietal wine under our ONE label, overall, we are still 95% blends.

How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
Since 1980

How did you first begin working with the grower?
I began working with Patrick Rawn of Rawn Fawn Management back in 2013.

What excites you the most about the wines you’re making?
I look to Europe to find great blends and use that as an inspiration to make great blends in Washington. Food friendly aspects of wine are very important to me. I am not a big fan of monster wines with excessive alcohol, tannin, or oak. Instead, I like to focus on overall balance, complexity, and food friendliness.

What is your favorite part about the Washington state wine community?
We are a team, working together to make the wines of Washington better. I do what I can to help the industry including a long stint on the Wine Research Advisory Committee and the Foundation Block Advisory Group. I also try to make myself available to other winemakers who are seeking advice.

What excites you the most about what the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Looking at it from a historical perspective, Washington state has multiplied in vineyard acreage, wineries, and wine production incredibly over the 43 vintages I have been here. Note that there were 16 wineries here in 1980 and now over 1,000. The numbers hardly tell the story however, as it is not the quantity but the quality of the vineyards and the wine that have excelled the most. Certainly, the world wine scene has its challenges going forward, however Washington is well placed to compete in this tough marketplace. The diversity of products from delicious fruit-forward white wines to balance the age worthy reds we have are what the market is looking for (and don’t forget some of the tastiest Rosé in the world). Price wise, Washington can’t compete with the cheapest production in the world but with increasing automation, it can hit a quality/price ratio that competes with wines anywhere. The best news is we are still a young wine growing area and we have some of the smartest people both in research and in the field. As a result, the wine growing, winemaking, and quality of the wines just keeps getting better. I must give a shout out to the new Sustainable WA program in Washington, this is another great appeal, especially to the younger wine drinkers.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
My Tuttorosso (Sangiovese-based Super Tuscan style) and barbequed salmon. Another favorite is my Oriana (Viognier based blend) and crab.

Vineyard Manager/Co-Owner, Rawn Farm Management – Patrick Rawn

What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing? How did you first become involved in the wine industry and what has your trajectory looked like?
We are fourth generation Zillah farmers historically growing tree fruit. We planted our first vineyard in 2000. I moved back to Zillah in a ‘gap year’ of sorts before graduate school.  After being back for that summer I realized how much dirt was in my blood and that wine grape growing was for me.

How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
18 years

How did you first begin working with this winery?
We began working with Brian Carter in 2013.  We had a young block of a relatively new clone of Cabernet Franc that Brian began working with that he has still works with today.

What excites you the most about the grapes you’re growing or the techniques/equipment you’re using?
Our evolution towards and the achievement of sustainability certification through Sustainable WA is something I am very excited about. Being able to improve both grape quality and the positive impact on our community and the environment is a lot of fun.

What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
The camaraderie and unity in the wine industry is by far my favorite part about this community. There is a ‘rising tides’ attitude in the industry that makes the industry second to none.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
The sky is the limit for Washington wine. We are still unknown to such a large part of global consumers so that runway is exciting to me.  Sustainable WA is going to be a big part of Washington’s future.  Growers here do such a great job and have such a positive impact on the industry, so having those conversations and sharing that work with consumers is going to be great.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Cabernet Franc and grilled lamb are my favorites.

Team Leader, Rawn Farm Management – Belisario Guirao

What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard?
I started working in the vineyard during harvest in 2013.  I started in the vineyard because of how many hours you can get on the farm during harvest but ultimately stayed because I fell in love.  I had worked retail shortly before the vineyard work but learned I loved being outside and watching the plants grow over the seasons.

How long have you been working in this capacity?
I started in 2013 and became a team leader in 2021.  I spent one year working in the cellar but ultimately loved the farm too much.

What excites you the most about working in the vineyards?
Working with the team and helping them grow while working towards the common goal of harvest.  I love when the plan works and seeing the team execute all the tremendous efforts the grape growing process entails.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Working with an awesome team is by far my favorite part. The job itself evolves so much throughout the year and changes from season to season. By the time harvest rolls around every year, there is such a real sense of accomplishment.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
I think between the quality of workers we are attracting in addition to the fruit our vineyards are producing, the future is bright for Washington wine. Having a quality team directly correlates to producing amazing grapes.

What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
I think wine drinkers might not know how much technology we are using in the vineyard and how impactful is it to efficiently manage the farm. There is so much work that requires meticulous attention to detail to grow quality grapes.


2200 6th Ave Suite 411
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 741-0212


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