So we thought we’d shed some light on it and introduce you to one of the faces behind the scene. It’s Samantha Carston: Retail buyer at Schweitzer, jazz/blues singer, and cellar rat extraordinaire.
At this stage in the winery evolution, the winery is all about taking. It takes money, time, and a lot of hard work. And we aren’t quite yet able to enjoy the fruits of the labors. It’s not giving yet.
Mostly, it takes love, constant care, and hard labor. And who better than Sam to help us out?
At Schweitzer, Sam handles the menu at Gourmandie, the gifts, the food and basicallly oversees the operation of retail at Schweitzer.
Being surrounded by wine, she became more and more curious about it, and how it is made. Last year, she took a wine tour of the Walla Walla area. There she began to explore new wines, and learn more about the different components and about identifying the characteristics.
When she heard about what we were doing, she wisely (or not so wisely) stepped up to the plate to help us out mucking in the winery. Honestly, we couldn’t have done it without her this year. Past years it was do-able but we’ve increased our production to the point we need to have a third person to pick up the slack for when one of us is consumed with our full-time job.
During harvest, it’s all hands on deck crushing and de-stemming the grapes when they come in; and then pressing the juice when it’s done fermenting.
In the photo above, Sam is taking the juice from the press and transferring it into the barrels to age. We asked her to count how many barrels she put in there. She didn’t realize we were kidding.
At other times of the year, we have to visit the winery daily; sometimes up to three times daily for various tasks.
We keep a log on the counter so we can communicate what’s happening, and Sam has been kind of enough to accept some of those duties. The more eyes, ears, and hands, the better.
“I was surprised by the manual labor involved. But it’s not to hard to learn – just a lot of fast-paced, physical work. It’s very fun and rewarding. One of the things that stood out for me was the color of the juice: The deep frothy colors and the smells (what we call the “nose”) and how each varietal is very different one from the other.”
That’s cool, don’t you think? We love having someone who takes a keen interest in what we’re doing and wants to help for nothing in exchange except some good knowledge, a bunch of fun, and eventually, some delicious Northwest wine.
By the way, Sam is a beautifully talented singer – you can find her around town locally belting out the blues and jazz. She grew up playing in her family band since she was 15. You can find her sometimes at Coldwater Creek Wine Bar, Pend d’Oreille Winery, and other local events.
Please join us here in thanking Sam for helping to bring some new Northwest wines to your table. Speaking of which! We are still working on the permitting process. It takes much longer than we knew otherwise we would have started sooner. Lessons learned – might make for a good blog post in the near future. Have you joined our email list? That is the best way to be the first to know when we have Small House Wine for sale. It’s right over there to the right ——>