Just in its second year of bottling, Redmond’s Northwest Totem Cellars is winning awards and accolades.
It will be a busy weekend for this up-and-coming winery, perched high on a hilltop near Woodinville Wine Country.
From 5-8 p.m. Friday, June 26, Northwest Totem Cellars owners Mike and Kate Sharadin will host a Blues of Summer concert with live music by their friend Tim Lerch, wine and a light food pairing at the Hollywood Schoolhouse in Woodinville. From noon-4 p.m. Saturday, June 27, also at the Hollywood Schoolhouse, is Northwest Totem Cellars’ 2007 Late Harvest Viognier release party.
The Late Harvest Viognier won an Outstanding award at the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards, where the winery also won Double Gold for its 2006 Longhouse Syrah. And at this year’s Washington Wine contest in Yakima, Northwest Totem Cellars garnered three bronze medals for its Syrah, Late Harvest Viognier and Syrah/Tempeanillo blend called Potlatch.
Northwest Totem Cellars was licensed in 2005 and the Sharadins have produced wines at their current Redmond home since 2006.
“It takes a couple years to get a marketable product,” Mike noted, explaining the timeline of licensing, crushing grapes, aging the wine and being ready to sell.
A retired “elite swim coach” at venues such as the 1984 Olympics and the University of Texas, Mike learned the winemaking art from mentors with ties to Chateau Ste. Michelle and Juanita Cafe. He worked as an apprentice, or “cellar master” at the latter, then started making wine with friends before turning it into a business venture.
“Nice fruit is key,” to quality wine, Mike stated. Grapes for Northwest Totem Cellars come from three vineyards within 40 miles of the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington. Unlike transporting fruit from California’s Napa Valley, this means the grapes are just-picked when they arrive for crushing, with help from friends, neighbors and others who want to take part in the process.
“In the fall, we have up to 70 volunteers. They also help with the bottling line. It’s lots of fun to get integrated into a family winery. People can also come by and watch. It’s very eclectic — it can be anyone from Microsoft to The Millionair Club (Charity). Last year, there was a lot of election talk,” said Mike.
Right now, it’s festival season for Northwest Totem Cellars and its many peers in the Washington Wine community. When the Sharadins obtained their business license, they were number 223 among Washington wineries. There now are more than 600 wineries in the state, said Mike. But “the more, the merrier,” he implied, chatting about the hectic but enjoyable process of getting “out and about” to promote their products.
He continued, “When you first start, you are most popular with every charity. It would be easy to do charity events 52 weeks a year.”
Northwest Totem Cellars has been featured at fundraisers for Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, the Northshore Public Education Foundation, Pasado’s Safe Haven, Homeward Bound Pets and others.
The Sharadins also participate in community events such as Kirkland Uncorked, coming up July 17-19 at Kirkland’s Marina Park.
“That lasts three days and is lots of fun with people enjoying the beach and the weather,” Mike said. “It’s very well-attended and a great way to sample wines without traveling 400 miles. They have a large tractor-trailer that is air-conditioned and you can also buy wine there.”
Food is closely linked to the fine wine experience. Since the Sharadins are vegans, they do many unique food pairings and dinners starring mushroom or soy-based products “with amazing flavors that have come out in the last five years,” said Mike. They are regulars at Redmond’s PCC Natural Market and Whole Foods Market, he noted.
Nearby restaurants and shops which pour Northwest Totem Cellars’ wines include Spazzo and Fine Wine and Cigars at Redmond Town Center and The Herbfarm and Barking Frog in Woodinville.
“And we go to Bremerton, Enumclaw, the San Juans … we’re constantly moving around to summer festivals and wine shops,” said Mike.
Kate designed the Northwest Totem Cellars’ label, with a painting that shows the couple’s “love of San Juans and Native American culture, communing with nature.”
Their share their home and their love with their two children and pets.
Visitors are welcome to stop by Northwest Totem Cellars for tastings, most Saturdays from noon-4 p.m. at 15810 NE 136th Pl. in Redmond. Check ahead of time, in case of an off-site event. Call (425) 877-7111 or e-mail email@example.com.