WASHINGTON WINE’S NEXT GENERATION: The daughter of Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard is making a name for herself as assistant winemaker.
MEGAN HUGHES, THE youngest daughter of Deborah Barnard and Rob Griffin, distinctly remembers her first job in the wine industry.
It was in the early days of Barnard Griffin, the Richland winery, and bottles needed to be labeled. So Hughes and her sister, Elise, were recruited to help. For every label that was applied correctly, their dad slid an M&M their way.
This early understanding of what it takes to run a family business, along with the pride that goes with seeing your last name on thousands of bottles of wine, was among the early sparks that set her hurtling down a path toward winemaking.
Three to try
All three of these wines were made by Megan Hughes, daughter of Barnard Griffin’s Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard.
Barnard Griffin 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $12: A bright white wine that is a signature bottling each year. Its aromas and flavors of fresh herbs, crushed oyster shells and fresh-cut green apple pair this wine perfectly with halibut, seafood chowder or grilled scallops drizzled with a beurre blanc.
Barnard Griffin 2016 Reserve Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $23: A big, smoky white with a creamy mouth feel and a richly structured palate. Flavors of baked pear are backed with tropical fruit, particularly pineapple.
Barnard Griffin 2016 Albariño, Yakima Valley, $18: This fashionable Spanish variety is fast becoming a favorite with Washington winemakers, and this example shows why, featuring wild aromas of sweet herbs, white pepper, apricot jam and lime zest. On the palate are flavors of butter, lemon juice and tropical fruit. Perfect with crab dip and a view of the ocean. (A stunning sparkling version is available in the winery restaurant.)
And then there was the time in middle school when she defiantly refused to sign the police department’s DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) pledge declaring she wouldn’t have alcohol in her home.
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Her first winemaking experience came at Washington State University, though not in a classroom. She came home from Pullman one weekend during harvest and collected a carboy of fresh merlot juice. Hughes dragged it back to the Palouse, where she went on to make her first batch of wine, in the bathroom of the apartment she shared with her understanding roommates. Her dad didn’t understand why she didn’t just make it at the winery, where all the proper equipment was available to her. But Hughes wanted that first wine to be her own, made out of the shadow of her famous winemaking father. She recalls that it turned out pretty well.
These days, she’s deeply involved in the family business, doing most of the winemaking on the white wines, walking vineyards and working with growers to make the call on when to harvest and bring in the grapes. As a rising star in the Washington wine industry, expect Hughes to take a bigger role in the future direction of the family winery.