WALLA WALLA Valley wineries are well known for high-priced, high-quality red wines.
It is not unusual for a Walla Walla winery with no track record to ask for $30 or more for a first-release cab or syrah. But one little winery is bucking that trend, crafting gorgeous reds at incredible prices.
Grantwood Winery produces just 250 cases of wine, making such reds as tempranillo, zinfandel and syrah. It is not unusual for a micro-producer to charge reserve-style prices to maximize profit in the face of small volumes.
Yet Joe Grant and Doris Wood, both 75, quietly sell their wines typically under $20. How do they do that? More importantly, why?
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The two grew up in the valley. Wood was in real estate for 34 years, while Grant became a civil engineer and lived in California for 40 years. He came back to visit family and, on a lark, applied for a teaching position at Walla Walla Community College. He taught there for a decade and got interested in winemaking by reading books.
He and Wood met when she sold him a home, and they’ve been together since.
Both have done well in life, so neither feels the need to make a lot of money on their wine venture. Their grapes are grown locally at such top vineyards as Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Les Collines.
All of their equipment is small, inexpensive and labor-intensive. Grant knows to the penny what each case costs to make, and he’s more than pleased to sell his wine for prices that often are less than half of what others in the valley might charge.
“We’re happy,” he says. “We’re getting by.”
They produce only a barrel or two per wine, and they sell everything they make through their tasting room.
Grant said he isn’t opposed to expanding a bit if his wines continue to sell out quickly. He might even add a couple of barrels someday and bump his production to 300 cases.
Grantwood is just a few minutes west of downtown Walla Walla on Heritage Road. Stop by or call 509-529-5872 to have wines shipped.
Andy Perdue is a wine author, journalist and international judge. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.