Cairdeas Winery

Cairdeas Winery

Sherrard Studios

Winemaker and Owners – Charlie and Lacey Lybecker

1. What is your/your family’s story around your winery?
Charlie & Lacey Lybecker pull their winemaking inspiration from southern France, crafting traditional and truly unique blends featuring Washington-grown Rhône varietals. Cairdeas Winery’s first vintage was in 2009 in West Seattle, but wine country was calling, and they relocated to the Lake Chelan Valley, one of the newest AVAs at the time, in 2012 to build a destination winery and plant an estate vineyard. Cairdeas (car-dis), a nod to their heritage, is Irish Gaelic for friendship, goodwill, or alliance.

2. How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
Since 2009 – just wrapped up our 12th vintage

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
We love the camaraderie of the Washington state wine industry. Everyone is willing to share, learn from each other and lift each other up.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Leaner wines, lower alcohol, less oak, and more experimentation with fermentation techniques and different aging vessels.

5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
One of our favorite food pairings is our Nellie Mae sourced from Lawrence Vineyards (Viognier/Roussanne blend) paired with Spaghetti & Clams.

 


Rick Duval

Owner, Lawrence Vineyards – Josh Lawrence

1. What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing?
Like many stories in Washington, we did not start out farming wine grapes nor was that even a consideration in the mid ‘60’s when my dad and uncle started farming on the Royal Slope. Our grape growing history started with apples (in 1980) and cherries paving the way for our interest in other permanent crops. In February of 1998, a year after I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University, a friend of mine, Jeff Jones, convinced me to go to the WAWGG convention with him and his dad, Jack Jones. They had just planted their first vineyard the year prior and were excited about the young industry. I was very intrigued and in hindsight that day changed my trajectory in life.

I had been interested in brewing beer due to the microbrewery revolution of the mid ‘90’s but hadn’t thought too seriously about pursuing that. The wine grape business allowed me to fulfill some of those interests, as well as put my family’s farm ground to better use. But as happens in life, I first took a detour. Lisa, my future wife at the time, had a great Dot Com job that lured me to Seattle in 1999 with promises of highly valuable stock options. After living there for a bit and getting married I couldn’t get the wine industry out of my mind and started a wine importing company with two college friends. Our goal was to find quality wines from obscure areas. Our first stop was Valle de Guadalupe, a wine growing region just inland from Ensenada, Mexico. The wines were surprisingly good and we were lucky enough to put a deal together with Chateau Camou who was consulted by Michel Roland. We learned a ton in this endeavor and ended up importing wine from Uruguay then Argentina, as well. No matter how great the wines though, all I could think about was being in the WA wine industry.

Lisa and I moved back to my family’s farm on the Royal Slope and in 2003 we parlayed that experience from importing wine into planting our first block of grapes on what is now the Royal Slope AVA. We hired a reputable consultant and planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, the grapes of choice that year. Nothing replaces passion and we were passionate about this project. These first two blocks have made it into many great wines and taught us what not to and what to do for all future plantings.

2. How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
We planted our first block of grapes in 2003 so we are currently starting our 19th year of growing grapes. The major issue with that and being in Washington is that almost daily I think about all the new styles of trellis or endless varieties of grapes we could be trying.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
I’ve said since the beginning that this is the most friendly and helpful industry that we are involved in. The rising tide approach of this relatively young industry has always been very refreshing. If my neighbors do well then so do I and vice versa. This is not the case in much of production agriculture.

I also really enjoy working with our vineyard clients – there is so much passion in this state for winemaking, and many of the smaller wineries I work with in the vineyard are producing some world class wines, which is fun to be a part of.

Beyond that, another favorite aspect is our ability to grow almost any vinifera wine grape in the world. This is both a blessing and a curse, but it does allow us to provide options for wineries and their customers that are very difficult to find elsewhere in the US.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
I truly believe our upside is endless. We’ve been trying to play catch-up with California for years, but what we’ve missed this entire time is we don’t need to be like CA. We can truly be our own identity and that includes delivering the best quality-to-price ratio in the world. In fact what I see coming is California moving this way for secure water rights and amazing growing seasons. We’re already seeing it. Gen X and younger are also looking to buy wine from responsible producers that they can’t find on grocery store shelves. Washington’s emphasis on DTC over the past decade or two will pay massive dividends as people continue to do their shopping online. We are also just starting to sell the experience that Napa has for years and the opportunities for rural eastern Washington are very exciting.

5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
I would say there are two: A medium rare filet mignon paired with Syrah or penne pasta with homemade pesto paired with Viognier or Roussanne.

 


Viticulturist, Lawrence Vineyards – MATÍAS KÚSULAS

1. What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard?
I have a background in Naval Engineering and Agricultural Engineering from Chile. Decided to transition into soil science and discovered the wine industry. Left my country in 2011 to become a traveling winemaker and had the chance to meet amazing people and beautiful wine regions. Finally based myself in France where I had the chance to study Viticulture and Winemaking in depth. Interacting with experienced winemakers and wine growers across the globe, taught me the importance of understanding viticulture to make memorable wines. Luckily, my career has allowed me to be on both sides of the industry and continue gaining experience growing quality fruit, which to me, is the most important variable of winemaking.

2. How long have you been working in this capacity?
I’ve been officially working on the vineyard side since 2013. There is still a lot to learn, but I do know enough to realize that every single season is completely different than the next one, ergo you can’t treat them the same way.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
I like the fact that we are a young region, and we are still growing. There are so many unplanted places to discover and luckily for all of us, Washington has a wide range of terroirs, with the potential to provide high quality fruit.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
I’ve been here only since 2016 but I think quality is improving exponentially. You see every year better practices from growers and producers, in addition to a more dynamic involvement of professionals in research and innovation, under the umbrella of WSU. I hope we can see more Washington wines not only across the country but across the globe. I believe California became the wine region it is now because it “fought” France and won. I think we need to start pushing our wines abroad instead of holding most of them in local markets in order to show the world how great of a quality Washington has to offer. In order to do that, we need to unify ourselves as a region, working together symbiotically, growers and producers, in order to consistently deliver every year a better product.

5. What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
Besides the fact that I get to play with toys like tractors and four-wheelers, which is really fun, I drive over 600 miles every week checking on vineyards which allows me to listen to around 20+ audiobooks a year and dozens of Joe Rogan experience podcasts, which I really enjoy.

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