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Julie_SmallImage credit: Bloom Vineyards

Editor’s note: We sat down with the Julie Brown, the winemaker for Bloom Vineyards in Seattle, WA. If you’ve never tried a Bloom Vineyard wine, they’re great – and we found the winemaker to be pretty impressive herself! Read on:

What inspired you to join the wine industry?

You know, that’s a really funny question. I grew up in Los Angeles and if you had asked me what I was going to do, I would have said mechanical engineering. That was my plan until it was time to actually go to college.  I went into business management, deciding I wanted to be the CEO of some business; didn’t know and didn’t care what kind. Then I moved to Washington and knew NOTHING about the wine industry. I was offered a job as a wine club manager which, after I figured out what it was, made sense with my business management background. So I said “why not?” That harvest, the winery threw me into the cellar to help out and I decided there was no way I was ever going to leave. Not only did it touch on the paperwork tracking/business side of my brain that I liked, but also the creative art side of my brain that I LOVE! Good news: as it turned out, I wasn’t half bad at it. The rest is history.

Having worked in so many different wine regions of the world, do you have a favorite?

I actually don’t. Every varietal grows so differently in every region that I have favorite regions for particular varietals and wine styles, but that is about it. Living in Washington, the Columbia Valley will always hold a major place in my heart but it still isn’t a blanket favorite.

What is your favorite variety to make? To drink?

bloomblendImage credit: Bloom Vineyards

I love to make blends. I look at it like painting. You get all these fantastic colors that on their own are gorgeous but then you get to see how they fit together and express your style. You end up making an art piece that is so different from everything you started with. Because of that, I love to try other winemakers’ blends. Through blends, you get an inside look at their true styles when they aren’t limited to a varietal or wine region style. However, if I’m sitting down for a glass of wine, it depends on what I’m doing or eating. Inside in the winter, curled up reading a book, I love a nice bold Cabernet. Outside on the patio, I’m grabbing that Pinot Grigio without hesitation. BBQ-ing, I’m leaning more toward a Chardonnay or a lighter Red Blend (I normally BBQ pork).

When you’re not making wine, what do you like to spend your time doing?

Anything and everything. I tend to have TONS of hobbies—some I’m good at, most I’m not—but I figure if you can’t laugh at yourself every once in a while, you’re not living right. I try to go on adventures with my friends like trying to find Mt. Rainier (unsuccessfully…it’s a long story), or hanging out at a local bar with my friends.

How do you “Bloom”?

I “Bloom” by painting and drawing. It was my first passion in life and something I will always do! In high school and college I took every studio art class I could take. My favorite past time is sitting on the deck (at my grandma’s house because I don’t have her view), looking over the river with a glass of wine in one hand and charcoal pencil in the other, headphones in my ears, and listening to music loud enough so that nothing else in the world existed but me, the wine, the pad of paper, and Mother Earth ahead of me!

What is your general wine-making philosophy?

grapesbloomImage credit: Bloom Vineyards

Let the wine speak for itself. If you start with great grapes, you end with great wines, and I like to let the wine tell me what it wants. During fermentation, if you taste the wine every day it will tell you what to do. After fermentation, don’t fuss with it so much. Take a step back and let it happen. I’m a big believer in tasting your wines to figure out what they want, not relying on numbers like pH or sugar levels so much. That being said, you do have to look at some numbers, just don’t put everything in them. I like to think about it like this: when you make lemonade from scratch at home I’m sure you have a basic recipe with so much sugar, so much lemon juice, and so much water, right? But when you add all that in, do you just assume it is perfect and serve it or do you taste it? It’s the same idea: taste it and see what it needs.

What are some of your favorite “wine moments” when you either discovered the magic of wine or gained a new level of appreciation for it?

My first harvest I remember walking through the vineyards with the winemaker, absorbing everything I could possibly learn from him and tasting everything. I did not know ANYTHING about what I was looking for but I tried my best to remember and hold onto that information all throughout harvest. The next year, walking through the vineyards again and tasting things, all of a sudden I knew what he was talking about I could taste the differences in the grapes. I could taste and understand what most likely would stay and what would go away as the wine developed. I thought that was the most amazing thing ever! Every year as I walk through the vineyards tasting, I pick up more and it’s the most beautiful thing.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I moved straight from Los Angeles to Prosser, Washington. And no, not for a guy. I did it all on my own accord.

Which is your favorite Bloom wine from the current vintage and why?

bloomsImage credit: Bloom Vineyards

Outside with my friends and/or family on a gorgeous summer day, nothing beats a chilled glass of Bloom Pinot Grigio! Between the acid, fruit and clean crispness of the wine, you can’t go wrong. It goes with just about any food (especially a nice cheese plate) and is so easy to drink. Cheers!