Vital Wines

Ashley Trout

Winemaker & Founder – Ashley Trout

1. What is your/your family’s story around your winery?
I started in wine when I was 18 as a part time job, doing the nighttime punch downs and totally fell in love with the job.  Six years later I started my first winery, Flying Trout and then sold it five years later, staying on as the winemaker for five more years.  I started Brook & Bull and Vital a couple of years later.  Vital is a non-profit winery whose mission is to improve healthcare access for vineyard workers and their families. Both brands have been incredibly fulfilling in different ways.

2. How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
Since September of 1999.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
I really love the ‘company culture’ of the valley.  Everyone really appreciates each other and helps each other.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Most of the country still doesn’t know Washington wines well, but when they are introduced to them, everything sells.  I think we have a decade ahead of us of easy growth opportunities.  As for winemaking, we’re going to have to learn to contend better with smoke taint for any potential future fires.

5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Malbec and steak.


Partner at Banek Winegrower Management – Ramon Esparza

1. What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing?
I worked many different jobs in the Walla Walla Valley in agriculture before working as a grape grower. But I did have some experience working with vineyards in California before moving here. During my time in this valley none of my jobs I felt were challenging me enough. So, I was constantly moving from job to job, searching for new and more interesting ones. One day, in 2000, I was reached out to by a winery owner in Milton-Freewater who was looking for a bilingual vineyard manager. This was Christophe Baron and at the time I did not know of him or his winery. The position sounded like a challenge and so I accepted. My wife Vicenta joined the crew as well to help with the vineyards and has been by my side working with vines. I worked for Christophe as his vineyard manager for Cayuse vineyards until 2010 and then decided it was time for me to start my own business. This is when I found Chris Banek and together, we formed Banek Winegrower Management.

2. How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
This is always multi layered question to answer since the Walla Walla Valley AVA goes into Oregon state as well. I’ve been a part of the Walla Walla Valley AVA since 2000 but technically in Oregon State. When we started Banek Winegrower Management in 2012 this is when I started my farming on the Washington state side of the valley.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
The constant evolvement of the community. There are so many different clients, different minds, and new people becoming a part of this community that I get to work with and know. The community is constantly growing and changing. Which challenges yourself to keep up and do the best you can do.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
More people are getting attracted to the valley because of the high-quality fruit being produced from here. A lot more white varieties are seeming to be planted.

5. What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
Wintertime is a very underrated season in this industry sometimes. The difficulty the vineyards can present during winter season make the labor during this time period a lot harder than other seasons. Sometimes there’s a lot of work to do and other times its slow. Frost control, hilling up and burying canes are all important jobs we can have at vineyards during the winter season.


Andrea Unck

Vineyard Owner, Dwelley Vineyard – Andrea Unck

1. What is your/your family’s story around your winery?
Our family has a long history in agriculture in the Walla Walla Valley.  I am a fourth generation farmer that currently farms 2,500 acres of crop land with my father / business partner.  Twenty-one years ago, my father decided to take 30 acres of prime irrigated crop land, east of the Jones family homestead on Russell Creek, and plant wine grapes.

2. How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
The vineyard was established in 2001 and is home to nine varietals.

3. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
The Washington state wine community has been wonderful.  I truly value the supportive efforts and friendly networking that everyone embraces.  I love how everyone really helps each other out.

4. What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
As the wine industry continues to grow in Washington, I think it’s essential that we work together to ensure the health and well-being of those who work in the vineyards and wineries.  Labor supply will only continue to be a challenge, and we need to ensure that those who are the backbone of the wine industry have health equity and dignity.  This is no small task, but I believe this wonderful wine community has the passion and resources to accomplish this goal.

5. What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Favorite wine and food pairings….so hard to pick just one!  I love a chilled Viognier with a cheese and cracker platter.  I also love a Sangiovese with roasted chicken.

AUCTION OF WASHINGTON WINES

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

aww@aoww.org

OUR MISSION

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 $55 million since our inception in 1988. 

OUR newsletter

Website by

Photos courtesy of Duval Images & Curbow Photo
© 2008-2022 Auction of Washington Wines
Read our Privacy Policy