Fielding Hills

Owner/Founding Winemaker – Mike Wade

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?
The story of Fielding Hills Winery begins long before any grapes were planted, or any wine was bottled. In 1919 brothers J.M Wade and Isham (Ike) Fielding Wade moved from Tennessee to the Wenatchee Valley. They planted orchards and instilled in their families a devotion to the land. I am Ike’s grandson, the third generation in the business of growing, packing and shipping apples and cherries. In 1998, I planted Riverbend Vineyard in the middle of one of the family’s organic apple orchards, in what would come to be defined as the Wahluke Slope AVA. Riverbend Vineyard was planted with the intention of selling grapes to larger up and coming producers in the state. Eager to see if what was being grown had any potential, I harvested his first vintage in 2000. With my first production year, Fielding Hills Winery would produce 400 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a Red Table Wine. My wife, Karen, and I along with our children, family, & friends made and sold wine out of an orchard warehouse in east Wenatchee. I was named Washington state’s Rising Star winemaker by Wine Spectator with my first vintage and the demand for Fielding Hills surpassed our production ability.

How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
Our first vintage, from two-year-old estate vines, was in 2000. That year, we did about 400 total cases. Today, we produce ~3,000 cases annually and manage roughly 30 acres of vineyards.

What excites you the most about the wines you’re making?
Each vintage is its own puzzle. It’s exciting to “solve” that puzzle year after year. Right now, it’s going to be interesting to watch these wines age. With an unusually cool spring, long hot summer, and short fall it felt like we were “behind schedule” in the vineyard all year. We had to stare mother nature down a bit, waiting for Brix to come up and acid to be at a manageable level.

What is your favorite part about the Washington state wine community?
The Washington wine scene is ever changing and there is space for everyone. If you want to try a varietal, a style, or a method… odds are you can find it in Washington. You just have to know where to look. The people in the industry are here because they want to be.

What excited you the most about the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
It feels like the covid-driven disruption that had many small businesses, not just wineries, holding their collective breath has released. There’s new energy in the state around exploring wine. Perhaps it is a generational shift or it’s from people being forced to stay closer to home and discovering wines in their backyard, but consumers are curious.  The energy and curiosity that consumers have for wine is contagious, which makes sharing our story and bringing the consumer along on the journey so much fun!

Something specific to our winery: we have test blocks of Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, and Barbera that were planted in 2020. We haven’t taken any fruit from them yet, but we are excited to explore these varietals in the cellar more.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
I am notorious for prime rib and cabernet. My daughter Megan, manager at Fielding Hills, can’t wait to have a big summer salad of grilled veggies with burrata and a glass of Cabernet Franc.


Vineyard Manager – Tim Welsh

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?
A conflagration of events let me into the industry. My primary vocation was as horticulturist, growing and working with apple and cherry growers. The interest grew from friends and family; two industries that merged on the farms I was managing. First, I took a case of very nice and well-known wine to a retreat, church friends, who were not wine drinkers. If they drank wine it was diluted with Sprite (or 7up); a wine flip when I was younger. I suggested they try this without adding carbonation. They did and it was a hit.

How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
In the late 1980s, I entered into a management agreement with folks who grew grapes and simultaneously explored growing opportunities for yet unnamed, Fielding Hills.

What excites you the most about the grapes you’re growing or the techniques/equipment you’re using?
My excitement with grapes is found in what is ultimately produced. Most winemakers attribute their success to the grapes themselves, and most growers will attribute their success to the ground and environment they grow in.

What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
Sharing. I was fortunate to be a beneficiary of the expertise from generous, professional viticulturalists.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Our state usually impresses everyone who experiences our wines. We are not known around for fine wines until you take wines around the world and they shine bright. In recent international travels, I’ve been seeing wines from our state hold their own against some of the best in the world at dinner parties.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
I do love a full bodied and very robust Cab or Syrah. But if my wife chooses a light Pinot Grigio with steak I enjoy it right along with her.


Day-to-Day Operations – Joe Garcia

What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard?
I spent 12 years working with 200 acres of grapes in the Tri-Cities. My responsibilities included pruning, leaf thinning, shoot thinning, etc.

How long have you been working in this capacity?
I have worked with Mike and Tim for 28 years, 16 years with the fruit from Riverbend and Riverview Vineyard.

What excites you the most about working in the vineyards?
I currently manage 30 acres of grapes and eight different varieties. I love that each grape reacts differently during the various growing seasons and that every variety has varying degrees of challenges.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I love working with people; I love their diversity in attitudes, backgrounds, and the fact that they all ask different questions.  I enjoy helping people and sharing the unique quality of each grape.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
There are always going to be wine drinkers, so I think the future for our industry looks incredibly bright.

What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
If you have the chance to taste the grapes, do so. Every variety has a different taste and being able to taste the grapes in the vineyard, during the winemaking process, and once it is in the bottle is truly memorable.

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