Thursday, April 18, 2024

Celebrating a quarter century of winemaking excellence: Fielding Hills Winery

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CHELAN – As Fielding Hills Winery marks its 25th anniversary in 2024, founders Mike and Karen Wade reflect on a journey that began with the crushing of grapes from their estate Riverbend Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA in the fall of 2000. What started as an extension of a family business rooted in apple and cherry cultivation has blossomed into a renowned winemaking endeavor, deeply embedded in the fabric of Washington State's wine industry.

Originating from a lineage of third-generation growers, packers, and shippers, Mike Wade ventured into winemaking, driven by a desire to "make something and see it all the way to the consumer." This marked a pivot from traditional agriculture to the art of winemaking, inspired by Mike's early experiences with wine and food pairings. The transition saw the planting of Riverbend Vineyard on land formerly dedicated to Red Delicious apples in 1998.

The winery's debut commercial production in 2000 yielded 400 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Red Table Wine, with the Cabernet Sauvignon securing 91 points from Wine Spectator. This early success catapulted Mike Wade to the status of Washington State’s Rising Star winemaker.

For 13 years, the Wades, alongside their children, family, and friends, operated from an orchard warehouse in East Wenatchee before expanding to a tasting room and production facility on the shores of Lake Chelan in 2014. This growth reflects not just in location but in recognition, with accolades including placement of two wines on the top 100 Best Wines of the World list, the 2013 Merlot being named Best in Washington State, and their tasting room's distinction by “Sip” Magazine as a must-visit location.

Reflecting on the rewards of winery ownership, the Wades treasure the connections made through their wine, stating, "it is producing a great wine and sharing it with great people." They cherish memories of sharing their wine during significant occasions and recall fondly the early days of Washington winemaking, including moments spent with industry pioneer Walter Clore.

Now, Fielding Hills celebrates its evolution with a year-long celebration dubbed "Twenty-five in ‘24’," featuring 25 curated events, promotions, and experiences. These will highlight the winery's history, the team's commitment to quality, and the community's integral role in their success.

As Fielding Hills looks to the future, it's not just about commemorating past achievements but about laying the groundwork for continued excellence. With Mike and Karen Wade's youngest daughter, Megan Mitchell, stepping into a management role, the winery's legacy of crafting world-class wines is poised to endure, driven by a blend of tradition and innovation.

Fielding Hills Winery stands as a testament to the vision of its founders, the dedication of its team, and the vibrancy of Washington's wine community, marking a significant milestone with both reflection and anticipation for the next chapter in its storied winemaking journey.

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