Had you asked Joshua Thaut what he wanted to do with his life just a few short years ago, wine wouldn’t have even been on his radar.
A Wenatchee native, Thaut left town right out of high school with no plans to move back. He spent the next 15 years in Tacoma and Seattle, working various retail jobs. Nothing clicked. His sister, Megan Collyer, who still lived in Wenatchee and knew he was unhappy in his current line of work, made repeated attempts to coax him home.
“One day she called me and said we should open a wine bar in Wenatchee,” Thaut said. Though he had never worked at a restaurant or bar — or even drank much wine — the idea appealed to him.
“I figured I should probably start drinking wine,” Thaut said. “Up until that point I didn’t really know anything. I had worked retail long enough that I felt like I could do the customer service and run a business. And I knew enough about wine to know that it would intrigue me once I got into it.”
Norwood opened its doors in November of 2017. It was named after its founder, even though Thaut doesn’t always like to admit it.
“Norwood is my middle name,” he said, “but I like how it sounds as its own noun. I don’t always tell people it’s my name because I don’t really like the sound of Norwood’s. I don’t really want this to be named after me.”
At its core, Norwood strives to support local business and agriculture, while introducing the people of Wenatchee to a variety of wines — a mix of locally produced wines and others from outside the region.
“We are very proud of the wine and the farming that’s happening in Washington state,” said Thaut. “We want to continue to show off what Washington is capable of on a premier level, but also find some hidden gems that we can highlight and show off to people.”
Every wine poured at Norwood is Washington-made — even most of the food has been sourced locally. Thaut curates the wine list — which currently sits at around 50 wines poured by glass and another 30 or so sold by bottle only — personally. Much of his job consists of visiting wineries, tasting wines and shaking hands. From there, Thaut tries to pick wines that cross a spectrum of flavor profiles and price points. The list is constantly on rotation, though there are a few staples that tend to stick around.
“One of the keys with Washington is that it is incredibly diverse,” said Thaut. “We want to have as full a spectrum as possible of varieties of wine.”
His favorites change by the week. Currently, Thaut says he is enjoying the Upsidedown 2016 Syrah. Customer favorites include wines from Structure Cellars — a boutique winery in downtown Seattle — and Treveri Cellars, a Yakima Valley winery that focuses on sparkling wines.
Thaut hopes that he can help make the wine scene a bit more accessible to the average person. It can be easy to be intimidated by wine when so many layers of artistry, science and culture lie behind every bottle. Some people think you have to have been sipping wine for 30 years to truly enjoy it, but Thaut couldn’t disagree more.
“You don’t need to be fancy to come in here,” he said. “One of the things I like the most is when you see with someone that the wine just clicked with them. When you see someone get it, that’s amazing. I love to find those moments for people.”
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