Townshend Cellar, like vines in a vineyard, has grown, matured and strengthened over the years. In the beginning, winemaker Don Townshend was producing just four wines with an annual case production of 1,000. Today, those numbers have increased to nearly 30 wines and 20,000 cases annually.
Over the past year, there have been a few big changes for Townshend Cellar. Don and his sons, Brendon and Michael, reopened the tasting room on Green Bluff in July 2016, after more than a year closure. The tasting room is open weekends, Friday through Sunday, noon to 5pm, and is open year round. Also, the wine production facility was moved from its former location in the Spokane Industrial Park to a building closer to town, near Spokane Community College.
Recently, Don has stepped back a bit from the family winery, while his sons have become more active in the daily management of the business. Michael manages the tasting room and marketing efforts, as well as the Diamond T Wine Club, which has been revived over the last few months. Brendon is managing the production side of the winery, overseeing all the processing steps of winemaking until the final product is bottled and labeled. He is also serving part time in the Air National Guard. As for the patriarch of the family and business, Don is still assisting with the blending and giving the final nod of approval on all of the wines before they are bottled. He looks forward to being able to fully pass the baton to his sons in the coming years.
Being in the family business has been a very positive experience, Michael says. From a young age, Don involved Brendon and Michael in the winemaking and business processes, which has allowed them to learn and develop new skills throughout their lives.
“My biggest admiration for my father is for his work ethic that is beyond anyone’s I have ever met,” says Michael. However, trying to match this work ethic can be a difficult aspect of working together, which Michael admits can be exhausting at times. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to provide customers with some of Spokane’s best wines.
The vintage reds are some of their favorites to produce, as these wines allow them to capture the essence of the specific varietal and vintage. There’s a “mad scientist” aspect of it, Michael says. “Blending red wine requires you to be able to hold on to positive characteristics of certain varietals or even as specific as individual barrels and combine them all together for something truly amazing,” he adds. It requires patience, time and, most importantly, an experienced palate. They continue to only use small oak barrels for aging, which Don has done from day one. This practice allows for very specific control of the wine from vine to bottle. T3, Vortex and Red Table have undoubtedly been the best sellers over the years. They have aided in defining the brand. These wines offer an approachable price point, making them affordable and easily accessible in the community.
“We really take pride in being approachable as a business,” says Michael. “For the wine enthusiasts and for those just beginning to learn about wine, we hope that we can provide a great experience when our wine is served.”
The motto at Townshend has been to create stellar Northwest wines at a price point that would allow everyone to enjoy a bottle or glass of wine with a meal and find a flavor they truly enjoy.
Now that the Townshend Cellar team has settled in at their new production facility and the tasting room is reopened, they plan to focus on refining their operation and improving efficiency in order to ensure they continue to meet the demand for their product. Uncompromised quality is what Townshend Cellar is known for and has been dedicated to giving its customers since its very first bottle.
Townshend Cellar Tasting Room
Colbert - 8022 E. Greenbluff Rd.
Link to Issue