Dineen Vineyards

Vintner – Marissa Dineen

1. What is your/your family’s story around your winery?
Dineen Vineyards is a family operation with a passion for food, wine, friends & family. These shared interests led my parents, Patrick & Lanie Dineen, to establish our Vineyard in Zillah, in the Yakima Valley AVA.

Our vineyard location is considered one of the prominent sites in the state with several other notable vineyards as neighbors. We credit the soil, hilltop elevation and climate, but also the management practices we employ, to ensure the health of the vine and quality of the fruit. At the heart of our operation is a commitment to the highest standards of excellence. We are among the few wineries in Washington that grow our own fruit, which allows us to ensure quality from vine to glass.

In an ode to our agricultural heritage, our brand emblem is our “Big Black Truck.” The original 1950 ½-ton Chevrolet, five-window, blue streak with a sun bonnet was my grandfather’s very first truck on their farm in Wisconsin. We also name all our varietal blocks after family members as a symbol our family roots. Our commitment is to sustainability; scientifically sound and environmentally friendly wine growing.

I am the second-generation owner and share the love that inspired our first plantings over 20 years ago. Prior to working for Dineen full-time, I lived and worked in Europe, which is where I met my French husband and gave birth to the ultimate Franco-American JV, our daughter. Visiting the Old-World wine regions grounds you in the tradition of this trade and helps you understand how, over time, practices improve and change. Our family has also worked very closely with WSU which helps us to stay on top of new trends in the industry.

2. How long have you been making wine in Washington state?

We have been growing wine since 2001 and making wine since 2006. We have always used our winemaking to highlight the special aspects of our site which produces rich and dark colored wines with soft, elegant tannins and balanced acidity. We grow 12 varietals, mostly Bordeaux and Rhône varietals, over a total of 80 planted acres.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
Washington is a relatively new player to the wine industry; this gives us tremendous opportunity. When you visit Bordeaux, Burgundy or Tuscany they talk of making wine over centuries…. here we have been around for just a couple of decades. What we have in common is a belief that our regions (terroir) are special. Being new, however, doesn’t tie you to the past.

We are freer to experiment not only with winemaking but with a wide array of varietals, technologies, marketing initiatives, hospitality and more.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Washington state wine will continue to become more well-known and expand our market reach. We can grow a wide variety of grapes well, which gives consumers more choices. Our wines are also well priced for the quality which means they are accessible to more people. We are also home to world class research, the WSU Wine Science Center, which allows us to be at the forefront of new trends.

5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Asking this of a self-proclaimed foodie is like asking someone to choose their favorite child…so I’ll name a few pairings:
• If I feel like something spicy, I really enjoy a dry Riesling paired with Thai curry.
• I love a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with a rib-eye steak or dark chocolate cake.
• For comfort food, nothing beats a Bordeaux Style blend with roast chicken.


Vineyard Manager – Patrick Rawn

1. What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing?
I became the Vineyard Manager at Dineen Vineyards in 2008 after four years of farming my own family’s vineyards. Dineen was the first vineyard I managed other than our own and I have now successfully grown my vineyards under management to include 390 acres over eight sites.

My family are fourth generation Yakima Valley farmers. Historically the family has farmed tree fruit with the first vineyard being planted in 2000. We converted fully to wine grape production in 2006. We really look at our role as stewards for the future.

My collaboration with Dineen has helped us to improve quality, through scale we have been able to maintain a larger and well-trained crew. This is important as most of our vineyard tasks are done by hand. We are also able to pool purchases of equipment and keep on top of technological advances.

2. How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
I have been back in the valley farming since 2004.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
The sense of camaraderie in the wine industry is my favorite part. Because I manage multiple sites, I have the opportunity to meet winemakers and viticulturalists from very small wineries to the largest in the state.
We also have a strong relationship with WSU and are committed to learning and implementing the latest technologies and thinking in our operation.

In other regions or agricultural sectors there is much more of an attitude of competition. One of Washington’s ‘unfair advantages’ is the sense of unity within the industry. Baked into the industry’s DNA is an understanding that we are all in this together. It is really fun to be able learn so much from the ‘founders’ of the Washington wine industry while simultaneously helping those who are newer.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
The quality of the finished wines continues to improve, and I think we are just now nearing that tipping point from a Washington brand awareness standpoint on the global scale. The opportunity is boundless. Trend-wise I think the push towards sustainability is really
exciting. We have made the investment to certify Dineen Vineyards and our all our estate vineyards through the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing and are very excited to pilot the Sustainable Washington program. Our State has always been a leader in sustainable farming and we just starting to talk about it to consumers.

5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Cab Franc and anything off the grill. I think Cab Franc is such a special variety when done well. I am still in the love the elegance and how pretty a well-made Cab Franc is the glass. Pairing that elegance with simplicity of grilled meats and vegetables gets me every time.


Vineyard Worker – Eliceo Gil

1. What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard?
I started working in agriculture in high school. I have always enjoyed being outside and watching the crop grow throughout the season. It is really gratifying to see all the year’s work come together at harvest. My good friend, and our current irrigator, introduced me to my first opportunity to work at Dineen Vineyards… and the rest is history…

2. How long have you been working in this capacity?
I began working in the vineyard industry in 2002, planting vines in what is now the main Estate of Dineen Vineyards. I became the foreman for Dineen in 2006.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
My favorite part of the Washington wine industry is the sense of shared mission. The wine industry’s Latino Agriculture Education Program has been instrumental in connecting me to the broader industry and understanding what we are all trying to achieve. The Washington wine community provides educational opportunities that benefit our crew.

I also love my office. I have a picnic table outside the Dineen shop and enjoy a view over the vines, valley, and mountains.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine. Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Quality has always been important for Dineen Vineyards and we work very hard on learning and getting better. We continually adopt new and improved management practices.

We are now Certified Sustainable. We have always worked meticulously and now we are documenting this to show our commitment to quality. We have always said that you “Have to Look Good to Be Good” – that applies to the fruit on the vine and now we have the Sustainability seal as proof.

5. What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
It takes a lot of effort, attention to detail and knowledge of the site to grow amazing wine grapes.

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