A Bit of History or “Why we know our stuff!”
Willow Wine Cellars is the fruition of a passion sprouted over a decade ago. Brendan Simpers, Willow Wine’s vintner, discovered his joy in wine where he was born in Virginia after tasting wine grown out of the same soil that the country’s esteemed founders planted in-- those gents knew revolution and wine! Infused with grapey zeal he packed up his bags and went to learn in the heart of California’s Napa Valley, which, through great good fortune is where he met his co-owner and soon-to-be wife Tarnna White, herself an avid wine afficionado. After spending years working behind the scenes and in tasting rooms Simpers decided it was time to make his dream come true-- wine production. Tarnna, being a native of Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, suggested giving it a shot in Hood River where the burgeoning wine industry was starting to make international headlines!
Snap to today when Willow Wine Cellars is officially rolling! In 2011 Starview Farms gave Simpers and White the chance to nurture more than an acre of Merlot grapes that they then transformed into an excellent Rosé defined by aromas of melon and strawberry, crisp acidity, with an off-dry finish. Simpers' ebullient personality and obvious ambition made him fast allies with local growers and Willow Wine was shortly thereafter given the opportunity to buy a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Columbia Valley which they were able to press and add to oak barrels to age for approximately 14 months.
But that was all just the beginning! Now Willow Wine Cellars is asking for your help to expand production and to put their tasty wines into the hands of you and your friends!
Why we’re Kickstarting
In the coming season Willow Wine is going to add two more varieties to their cellars. The first, an Albariño, is one of their favorite white wines and will incorporate grapes from Inland Desert Nursery in Yakima Valley. This wine is characterized by a light fruity smell reminiscent of peaches and apricots. It is a perfect wine for those hot summer nights spent around a firepit with friends!
The second wine will be a Merlot made possible by Lonnie Wright in The Dalles. The region’s long summer days and refreshing cool nights create a phenomenal dark blue Merlot grape that produces a drink full of dark cherry aromas and a big, dry finish. This will be a vintage that Willow Wine Cellars wants to inspire your palate with! Dark and balanced this wine will remind you of sun even when the rains of the Pacific Northwest come pelting down. Snuggle up!
What this Kickstarter will help us achieve
The ambitious goal of adding two more varieties has prompted Simpers and White to reach out to you to help them! Of foremost importance is the purchase of a crusher/de-stemmer (Immagine de-stemming by hand! Folks in the old days had it crazy hard!), additional tanks, barrels, and bottles to put all that flavorful goodness in come spring!
So why $25,000? Here’s the breakdown of anticipated costs:
$10,000 | Grapes
$5,000 | Crusher/de-stemmer
$2,500 | Press
$1,000 - $2,000 | Barrels
$1,000 - $3,000 | Tanks
$5,000 | Packaging (bottles, corks, capsules, labels)
These are just a few of the big ticket items it takes to make quality wine.
The future of Willow Wine Cellars
Simpers and White are starting where we all start-- with a passion and a drive to make something beautiful that brings us together. But starting is hard. It takes long nights and agonizing decisions. But with your help, in five years Willow Wine Cellars aims to become a name you can find on shelves wherever you buy your specialty wine. Right now production levels are such that it’s impossible to tempt a distributor into promoting these wines-- but that means it’s up to you, our friends, family, people we’ve never met but who believe in the quality that comes out of small batches curated with passion, to work with us to get the word out and expand production!
For any contribution to our kickstarter we can’t thank you enough-- but we’re going to try! Please view our rewards and consider becoming a part of our little community. We welcome you with open arms and a raised glass of fine fine wine!
Join our community on Facebook, www.facebook.com/willowwinecellers. And please, if you have any questions about who we are, what this project is about, or why we believe so much in what we do, don’t hesitate to ask!
Risks and challenges
“Thank heaven that’s over with!”
One of the biggest challenges any winery faces is, go figure, the same challenge you face at the DMV-- paperwork. There’s a staggering number of permits and certifications to acquire in order to prove that we have a commitment to fine wine and to keeping you safe while you enjoy it. But we’ve done all that! It’s over, finished, kaput, terminado…. until next year when we have to renew it all. But they tell us it’s much less work the second time around. Here’s hoping, but we’ve all had to renew our drivers’ licenses enough times to be wary….
Ongoing brain wrinklers
Given the wide variety of beautiful wine labels out there-- some elegant, some bawdy-- you’d probably not think that getting a label approved is anything other than a snap. But it’s actually quite a challenge! There are federal restrictions on everything from font size to what information must be provided. We’re currently working with a great graphic designer, Ben Bonham, based out of Hood River who has years of experience in the dark murky bureaucracies where pleasing design is sacrificed for a “legible font on a contrasting background at least 2mm in height for a bottle of more than 187ml…” etcetera, etcetera. Seriously riveting stuff. To see the results of this ongoing saga stay tuned on our Facebook, www.facebook.com/willowwinecellars; when we get approved we’re going to shout it from the mountaintops!
Head scratches for the future
Well, ultimately growing grapes is agriculture. There’s centuries of wisdom passed down from teacher to student, but if the weather is bad then the crop suffers no matter how much knowledge one has. We chose the Columbia River Gorge because of its temperate summer climate and wide range of available grapes-- from cold weather grapes to the rising Oregon star the Pinot Noir. It’s an amazing place to grow, but oft hard to predict. And of course we will face the challenge of making this sustainable over the long haul-- developing our business acumen, as it were. We’ve got great support from local tasting rooms, growers, and vintners, and we’re confident with their experience and your generosity we will succeed. This Kickstarter campaign will get our foot in the door, but it’s up to us to take our vision into the future.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)