Head Winemaker/Chief Potentate – Greg Peiker

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?
For me, starting a winery has been a journey of happy accidents and bumping into opportunities.  I started my professional career by working as a civil engineer for 10 years. I then went back to school for a graduate business degree, worked in consulting for a bit, then joined Microsoft for nearly 20 years.  Late in my Microsoft career, I sensed that my time at Microsoft was winding down.  Also, my kids were getting older, so I didn’t need to drive them to soccer practice anymore. With the extra time on my hands and after a bit of reflection, I realized I had worked hard to be successful and do a good job, working within the boundaries that were provided to me.  After years of working hard at this approach, I found that I had been very successful at getting somewhere I wasn’t sure I wanted to be. I decided to indulge my life-long passion for wine and give winemaking a try. I subsequently enrolled in the winemaking program at Northwest Wine Academy. One of my graduation requirements was to complete an internship so I reached out to William Grassie (of William Grassie Wine Estates) who was a Microsoft colleague and winemaker who had also been through the program.  He offered to mentor me in his winery if I would purchase the fruit. So, I purchased 7 ½ tons of fruit and made wine.

How long have you been making wine in Washington state? 
I participated in the making of multiple vintages during my time at the Northwest Wine Academy. The first vintage for Quiddity Wines was 2018.

How did you first begin working with the grower?
I began looking for fruit in 2018 and talked to several winemakers and asked them if they knew anyone who had grapes. I was specifically interested in Rhone varietals which I discovered were a little harder to find.  Through fortuitous luck, I ended up partnering with Joe Hattrup and his Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf Vineyards.

What excites you the most about the wines you’re making?
Seeing the impact that my wines have on peoples’ lives. People text me pictures of themselves drinking Quiddity Wines at their family Thanksgiving celebrations, on boats (while moored of course), on vacations, etc.  It is tremendously gratifying to have created something that gives someone else a bit of joy, even if just for a little while.

What is your favorite part about the Washington state wine community?
It’s the community.  It is like living and working in Mayberry (I am dating myself with this answer).  I have become friends with people in the community and see them every day.  It is like walking down Main Street in Mayberry and seeing Floyd, Gomer, Aunt Bea, etc…  I also enjoy the collaborative nature of the wine industry – people sharing ideas, energy, and even their equipment.

What excites you the most about what the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Last time I was in London, I went into Fortnum and Mason, a large, old school department store.  Their wine department takes up nearly the entire basement.  They have an entire wall of French wines.  An entire wall of Italian wines.  They had a single row of American wines.  They had ½ a shelf of Washington wines.  In the vast world of wine, Washington is still very new and unknown, and a tremendous value – I think the opportunities are tremendous.  I am also excited by the creativity and experimentation I see with new varietals, new blends, and new processes.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Good wine, good food, and good friends, hopefully in a spectacular location.

Owner, Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf Vineyards – Joe Hattrup

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?
I’m at least a third to fourth generation farmer. I grew up on a diversified farm with open land crops, cattle, and orchard tree fruit production.

How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
In 1995 we had the opportunity to purchase an acreage nearby that was undeveloped sagebrush high on the south slopes of Elephant Mountain which came with a water well permit. While we had never grown grapes of any kind, I knew that this could become a world-class site for great wine production. After consulting with several experts in the industry who concurred with us on the viability of our plan and quality of the site, we drilled a well in 1996/97 and started planting Elephant Mountain Vineyards in 1998. We took our time developing EMV and as the site development neared completion, I started developing our second vineyard Sugarloaf vineyards in 2006, a couple miles west of EMV. The two vineyards compromise about 120 acres each.

How did you first begin working with this winery?
We first started working with Greg and Quiddity Wines in 2018 when he came to the vineyards to pick up fruit with a friend who was an existing customer. Greg seemed to like what he saw and asked if he might purchase some fruit going forward as he was developing his winery operation. 

What excites you the most about the grapes you’re growing or the techniques/equipment you’re using?
What we most enjoy about our grape growing experience is how well and consistently these exceptional sites produce great fruit every year and how much our customers support and appreciate our efforts in the vineyards.  We work very hard with a very diligent crew to balance the different aspects of high-quality grape growing from water and sunlight management to row orientation and canopy management.

What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
One is seeing the approval of and appreciation for what customers see and taste when they walk their rows in the vineyard and then again when they come to pick up their fruit and taste what’s in the bins.  Second is either going to industry or onsite winery tastings to be able to taste through a couple different years’ worth of vintages and see how grapes that were grown in those years are showing.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
The future for Washington state wine production looks great to me. As we continue to progress with new and expanding sites and continue discovering what varieties do well where and what new varieties this state can produce well, there seems to be no end to the great things to continue coming out of Washington.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Favorite wine and food paring… I don’t have one, the fun is having multiple options in front of you to sample with different dishes and discover what works well for the meal in the moment. Be ready to pull some corks and let the fun begin.


Foreman of Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf Vineyards – Emilio Garcia

What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard?
I come from Michoacan, a town in Mexico, and started working in the orchards when I first arrived in the U.S. I planted grape vines in 1998, which was my first foray into the vineyard industry. I continued working in the orchards until 2006 when I transitioned to working full-time in the vineyards. I loved that I was able to develop a deeper understanding of grape growing techniques and what it took to maintain quality grapes and have been working in the vineyards ever since.

How long have you been working in this capacity?
I’ve been working in the vineyard industry for 24 years.

What excites you the most about working in the vineyards?
What excites me the most is to see the extensive efforts we are putting into the vineyards coming to fruition by the wines that get created by the winemakers we partner with.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite aspect of my job is during the pruning season, as that will allow us to choose the canes and buds that will produce the canopy and fruit in the coming season.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
I see labor becoming extremely problematic. I only say this because growing quality grapes each year for winemakers is the most important factor we focus on and to grow quality grapes we need a talented crew that knows what they’re doing. With technology expanding and vineyards using modern-powered equipment instead of human labor affects vineyards like ours. Mechanized farming can have its pros such as higher crop yields and higher rate of productivity, but it can also lead to smaller workforces, potential damage to the vineyard environment, damage to the canopy itself while harvesting, and ultimately lower grape quality.

What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
I think some wine drinkers may not know the extent of the efforts, talent, and knowledge it takes to grow and manage quality grapes. Great wine always starts in the vineyards and though sometimes we are battling with mother nature (who always wins), it takes tremendous effort and skill to adapt to the ever-changing conditions to ensure that the quality of the grapes remains unaffected.


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



The Northwest Wine Benefit Foundation, DBA Auction of Washington Wines, is committed to supporting the growth and awareness of the Washington state wine industry through a series of celebrated events benefiting our community. We have raised over $63 million since our inception in 1988. 

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