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Originally published August 7, 2014 at 3:45 PM | Page modified August 14, 2014 at 6:42 AM

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Meet some of Washington state's finest winemakers

Take a look inside Woodward Canyon Winery, L'Ecole No. 41, DeLille Cellars, Betz Family Winery and Chinook Wines.

Special to The Seattle Times

Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times

Bottles are processed at Betz Family Winery, in Woodinville.

Seattle Times wine writer Andy Perdue sat down with winemakers from five of the state's top wineries to talk about the grapes, the hard work and the passion that go into crafting their wines. Look for Perdue's column, The Grapevine, each week in The Times' Pacific Northwest magazine. On Aug. 31, he'll tell us more about what's going on at L'Ecole No. 41 and its award-winning program.

Auction of Washington Wines

Wines from all five of these wineries will be featured at the Auction of Washington Wines Aug. 14-16, beginning at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville. The 3-day event features more than 100 wineries, sampling and tasting events, winemaker dinners, a charity fun run and a grand-finale gala. Honorary co-chairs of this year's auction are Megan and Marty Clubb from L'Ecole No. 41 in the Walla Walla Valley and Frank and Charlene Blethen of The Seattle Times. Proceeds benefit Seattle Children's Hospital and Washington State University's Viticulture and Enology Program. For information on ticket prices and other details, see www.auctionofwashingtonwines.org or contact Aimee Sheridan at asheridan@washingtonwine.org, 206-326-5747.


Rick Small, Woodward Canyon

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John Lok and Katie G. Cotterill / The Seattle Times

Rick Small is the founder and owner of Woodward Canyon Winery in the Walla Walla Valley town of Lowden. Small started Woodward Canyon in 1981, making it the second-oldest winery in the valley after Leonetti Cellars. Small grew up in the area and planted his first grapes on his father's wheat farm. After launching Woodward Canyon, his wines quickly gained a reputation for being among the best anywhere.


Marty Clubb, L'Ecole No. 41

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John Lok and Katie G. Cotterill / The Seattle Times

Established in an old schoolhouse, L'Ecole is one of the oldest wineries in Washington. Also in the town of Lowden, it was founded in 1983 by Baker and Jean Ferguson, who owned Baker Boyer Bank. Their daughter, Megan, and son-in-law, Marty Clubb, took over the operation in the late 1980s. Since then, Clubb has turned L'Ecole into one of the state's most respected wineries. This year, L'Ecole unveiled Ferguson Vineyard, a Bordeaux-style red blend that honors its founders. It already has been recognized by Decanter magazine as one of the finest wines in the world.


Chris Upchurch, DeLille Cellars

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Bettina Hansen and Genevieve Alvarez / The Seattle Times

DeLille Cellars, based in Woodinville, is one of Washington's most recognizable wineries, thanks to its dedication to high-quality red blends over the past two decades. DeLille, just a few moments' drive from Chateau Ste. Michelle, was launched by four friends in the early 1990s. One of them is Chris Upchurch, the group's passionate and artistic winemaker. In this interview, he discusses his winemaking philosophies, favorite vineyards and what is in store for DeLille.


Bob Betz, Betz Family Winery

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Bettina Hansen and Genevieve Alvarez / The Seattle Times

Bob Betz is one of the kindest and most passionate people in the Washington wine industry. Betz started his career in early 1976 with Chateau Ste. Michelle, a company he stayed with until 2003. In 1997, he launched his own operation, Betz Family Winery, which in the ensuing years has gained a reputation for some of the West Coast's best wines. Betz, who located in Woodinville, is one of the few people in the world to have earned the prestigious Master of Wine degree — and he's the only winemaker in the United States with that distinction.


Kay Simon and Clay Mackey, Chinook Winery

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John Lok and Katie G. Cotterill / The Seattle Times

In the small Yakima Valley town of Prosser, Kay Simon and Clay Mackey have quietly built Chinook Wines into one of the state's most-respected producers. Simon is a former winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, having worked there in the 1970s and '80s, and Mackey was a viticulturist for the company. The two met on the job, got married and decided to strike out on their own. Today, the couple craft wines that exude elegance over power, and their bottlings are extremely popular with restaurateurs, especially Seattle's Tom Douglas.



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