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vintner Matt Rawn

Vintner – Matt Rawn

What is the story around your winery? 
Ours is a story not completely unique to the Washington Wine Industry, but it is our own!  Our family was a long time tree fruit farming family in the Zillah area.  I helped plant our first vineyard in 2000 with my late Uncle Ron Schmidt.  Uncle Ron was close friends with the Stan Clark, a man amongst the Washington wine ‘godfathers’.  Stan and Uncle Ron convinced me to enroll in the first enology and viticulture class at Walla Walla.  I was lucky enough to commute with Stan from Zillah to Walla Walla every day.  We would talk wine, baseball, vineyards and life.  I learned so much on those daily drives.  Shortly after enrolling Uncle Ron and I decided to start making wine commercially and created Two Mountain Winery.

How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
Since 2002.  Wow, has it been that long already?

What is your favorite part of being a member of the Washington state wine community?
The quality of the grapes and wine being grow, the growth of the industry and the recognition and desire for it from around the globe. Also, the fact that it very much feels like a community trying to grow and create something. The full potential has not yet been realized.  It’s rare to have an entire industry that has success of the whole at mind as much as individual success.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine. Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
There is no limit to the future.  As a state the quality of the grapes/wine being grown and the people making it happen are second to none.  Combine that with the ever-growing knowledge of Washington wine from all parts of the county (and globe) and I’m not sure I see anything but an upward trajectory.  

As I travel around the country working with our distribution and retail partners, I see a growing appetite to not only consume but to learn about Washington wine.  Consumers increasingly want to understand the story of the wines they enjoy, and Washington has a great story to go along with the amazing wines.  Being able to have those conversation with consumers is awesome.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing? 
Not to sound too cliche’…Rose’ and Street Tacos! This is such a hard combination for me to ever pass up.  Both have lots of flavor, lots of structure, lots of nuance, and lots of versatility.  Unfortunately, to a lot of people, neither are considered terribly complicated.  However, when each are done right, we all know better!

Grower – Patrick Rawn

What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing?
We are fourth generation Yakima Valley farmers.  Our grandfather grew up farming in Zillah and our grandparents started their farm and family where our winery is located in 1951.  We have deep roots in agriculture in the valley and Zillah.  Historically the family has farmed tree fruit with the first vineyard being planted in 2000.  We converted fully to wine grape production in 2006 and really look at our role and stewards for the future.  Farming in a place that has meant so much to our family is a really important part of our “why”.

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

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. 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.

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 all our estate vineyards through Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing and are very excited to see the movement by so many starting to make similar investments.  Washington has always been a leader in sustainable farming and we just starting to talk about it to consumers.

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 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

Vineyard Worker – Eliceo Gil

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 of the year’s work come together at harvest.  My good friend, and our current irrigator, introduced me to my first opportunity to work in grapes.  The rest is history…

How long have you been working in this capacity?
I began working in the vineyard industry in 2002 and started working with Two Mountain as foreman in 2008.

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 providing education opportunities is great.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine. Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
I think our continued work on improving quality creates a really great future.  We work very hard on learning and getting better.  That can only yield continued success. A trend I have noticed over the last 10 years is the increased percentage of vineyard employees that are women. Over 60% of our team are women which is terrific. The different perspective and skillsets that a more gender diverse team brings to the farm everyday really helps us achieve our quality objectives.

What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
The effort and attention to detail it takes to grow amazing wine grapes. Growing high quality grapes takes a deep understanding of each vineyard site.  It takes a long time and lots of work to learn the needs of each site and block to maximize the quality.


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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