Robin Pollard, the former executive director of the Washington State Wine Commission, is releasing her first wine, a red blend from her 2015 harvest.
ROBIN POLLARD SPENT more than six years leading the Washington wine industry during one of its biggest growth spurts.
Now the former executive director of the Washington State Wine Commission has joined the industry she once led, planting a vineyard in the Yakima Valley and launching her own wine label in addition to her coffee-roasting business. Pollard Coffee sells her artisan-roasted coffee to small outlets across the country.
Coffee and wine: the perfect combination of Washington’s signature beverages and a natural move for Pollard, who served as the state tourism director back in the 1990s. Promoting the state, including its agricultural prowess, segued into becoming the voice of the wine industry. That’s when she came to love wine even more, and her master’s degree in agriculture from Northwest Missouri State University kicked in.
One to try
The new Pollard Vineyard red blend was made by Chris Camarda, owner of Andrew Will Winery on Vashon Island. It should be available through Seattle area wine shops or directly through the winery.
Pollard 2015 Pollard Vineyard red wine, Yakima Valley, $29: This Right Bank-style blend leads with merlot and includes cabernet sauvignon. It opens with rich aromas of plum, blackberry and cinnamon, followed by succulent flavors of ripe Rainier cherry, clove, cola and vanilla. Perfectly balanced with bright acidity and firm tannin.
When her tenure at the wine commission ended, the former Iowa farm girl bought a 10-acre alfalfa field 20 minutes from downtown Yakima, transforming it in 2014 by planting cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. Pollard’s vineyard — a high, sloping hill with a commanding view that includes Mount Adams and Mount Rainier — is managed by Patrick Rawn, who owns nearby Two Mountain Winery with his brother.
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Rather than selling her grapes to another winery, Pollard turned to her entrepreneurial bent and Midwestern work ethic. She decided to launch her own small label with the 2015 vintage, which was the first crop from her estate vines. She brought in about six tons of her own grapes, enough to produce about 600 cases.
By her side is one of the state’s most talented and longest-tenured winemakers in Washington: Chris Camarda, owner of Andrew Will Winery, who also happens to be Pollard’s life partner.
He offers guidance in the vineyard and in the cellar. He knows the area well, having planted his own estate vineyard — the 30-acre Two Blondes — a couple of miles away in 2000.
After a career spent promoting Washington’s industry from a regional curiosity into an internationally renowned wine region, Pollard loves that now she’s able to put her hands in the soil on the other end of the creative process.