Owner and Winemaker – Dennis Murphy
1. What is you/your family’s story around your winery? After being introduced to Walla Walla wines and visiting, I fell in love with the town. I could feel the energy in the wine scene emerging and moved to Walla Walla in 1999. There were just a handful of wineries at the time, so I started to make myself available during harvest and made some friends in the wine industry. In 2003 I purchased the winery estate property and in 2005 I planted my first vineyard, the Eleanor Vineyard. Caprio Cellars released our first wine in 2010 and set our sights on building a world class hospitality center. We opened our hospitality center or “tasting room” in August 2019. Caprio Cellars is focused on a couple things, providing service and hospitality second to none and making world class wines.
2. How long have you been making wine in Washington state? I have been making wine in Washington State since 2008.
3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community? The community, especially the Walla Walla valley, is filled with talented and generous people in the wine industry. It has a real collaborative feeling. I enjoy working in the agriculture industry and dancing with Mother Nature.
4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing? I am confident that Washington state can consistently produce world class wines. The bar continues to rise on the quality of wine. We are attracting attention from the Napa Valley and there are many California companies coming to Washington state because of the quality of fruit and wines. It will be exciting to watch the industry grow and reach new heights of success.
5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing? My favorite food and wine pairing is Caprio Cellars’ Eleanor Red Wine with our Executive Chef Ian Williams’ version of my grandmother Eleanor’s meatball recipe. We serve this food and wine pairing at the Caprio Cellars tasting room on a regular basis, come and check it out for yourself!
Grower – Chris Banek
1. What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing? Although I was born in Santa Cruz, I was raised in the Walla Walla Valley surrounded by the apple industry, where I acquired experience and an appreciation for farming. As I furthered my education in the agricultural industry, the valley began to transition more and more to wine grapes, and I transitioned with it. I founded Banek Winegrower Management in 2010 with my partner, Ramon Esparza, and have continued to build a team producing quality wine grapes in the Walla Walla Valley.
2. How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state? I’ve been involved in growing grapes for the Washington wine industry for over twenty years.
3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community? There are many great aspects of the Washington wine community. My favorite part is the day-to-day interaction I am able to have with so many great members of our farming team. Everyone contributes different talents and knowledge that result in the production of high-quality vineyards and wine.
4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing? The future of Washington state wine is wide open, with so many awesome possibilities. Our state is continuing to explore and experiment with varieties not typically found in this growing region. It is exciting to be a part of new planting projects involving grafted vines, a wider variety of clones, and grape varieties less common and new to the Walla Walla Valley.
5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing? My favorite food-wine pairing is elk backstrap, potatoes, and green beans from my garden, paired with a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux blend.
Vineyard Worker – Fernando Rodriguez
1. What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard? I worked in the vineyards in California a long time ago. When I moved to Walla Walla in 2004 I found a job working with orchards. I missed working with vines, so I switched over and have been working as an irrigator for Chris and Ramon since they started the business in 2012.
2. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community? I like the fellow team members I work with out in the vineyards. It takes a team to get the farming and hard work done, without the team it wouldn’t be possible.
3. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing? So many more vines are being planted in this valley every year the growth of wineries is really exploding. I think the future of this valley will produce a lot of fun and new wines that are new to this state overall.
4. What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know? With drip irrigation in the vineyards, you can really see the day to day impact additional water has on these vines. If we didn’t have drip irrigation for these vines in this area, I don’t know what the wine industry would be like. Also, working with Mother Nature can add a lot of challenges to irrigation alone. The changes of soil types just in this valley alone vary a lot and then wind are two factors that really add a challenge to your irrigation depending on where you are.