Often, when we hear of a change coming to something familiar and well-liked, the news is unsettling. In this case, news of the growth and expansion of a well known small local business is welcome.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards is a winery with a popular tasting room in Leavenworth, WA. Beginning as a small family-owned and operated business, it produced good wines which pleased visitors and brought them back to enjoy not only the wines, but the winery family of Terry, Vivian and sons Patrick and Ryan. Under the guidance of Charlie Hoppes and assistant winemaker Craig Mitrakul, Patrick Flanagan was training to become the winemaker, while Ryan Flanagan managed the vineyards. Upon the untimely death of Patrick, Craig Mitrakul became winemaker.
Since 1999, Ryan-Patrick has been bottling award winning wines, as evidenced by the high scores awarded by Wine Spectator magazine, and has garnered medals and awards from a host of other credible evaluators. With all the marketplace success, the Flanagans were looking for a way to produce more wine and wanted to add other varietals to their line. At the same time, all that success in the marketplace drew the attention of the Wahluke Wine Company. Interested in adding a small quality winery to the company, they approached the Flanagans and offered to buy the winery. It would be kept as Ryan Patrick Vineyards, with both Terry and Vivian involved in daily operations. This would give them more wine and more varietals to offer their fans.
So Ryan Patrick Vineyards lives on, under a new Corporate banner rather than as a small family winery, and with the benefits of having some corporate capital behind its excellent wine making program.
What remains the same? The quality of the wine. At a recent meeting of Ryan Patrick employees, which I had the pleasure of attending, I heard the new owners' Business Development Manager, Brian Thoet, vow three things: first, to continue a program of using the same quality grapes; second, to retain in their former roles the family members Terry and Vivian Flanagan, who gave birth to the product line; and third, to maintain the Ryan Patrick tasting room presence in Leavenworth.
The meeting ended on a very positive note, with all in attendance feeling sad, yet glad at the same time, when announcements were made about the quality and variety of the wines to come. The two new Rose’ wines are already in stock in the tasting room, both standing on their own merits, and while I have a personal preference for the dry Rose’, I recently did a food pairing with some grilled shrimp and then with a salad, and found both wines well-suited to my recipes.
Soon to come is the new Barbera, one of the tasting room’s favorites from the past, which will be followed by the latest Syrah and the new Grenache. Both the Barbera and the Syrah are old time returns to the venue, but the Grenache is a brand new addition.
For me, the really exciting aspect of the new ownership is the breadth of wine varieties in the vineyards of the Wahluke Wine Company. We could be in for some serious surprises. Will there be a Riesling? Perhaps a return to the once very popular Sauvignon Blanc, or maybe even a new Pinot Grigio to expand the white line? Then there are the reds: waiting in the wings might be a Pinot Noir , a Malbec, or even a Southern Rhone blend. I’m excited just thinking about that.
Congratulations to Terry and Vivian, for knowing when change is a good thing, and to The Wahluke Wine Company: you’ve brought home a winner.